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“Laugh-In” comedienne Deutsch leaves the world laughing

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Comedienne Patti Deutsch has passed away.

If you were around in the late 1960s into the mid-1970s, you definitely know who she was.

Deutsch was all over TV starting in about 1967 or so, when the comedy troupe the Ace Trucking Company was appearing on variety shows on all the networks, and she was a semiregular on “This Is Tom Jones” as part of Ace. The success that she had with Ace as its lone female member enabled her to go out on her own.

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With her girl next door looks and high, nasal vocal delivery, Deutsch found her way into commercials and doing voices for cartoons, but her big break came in 1972, when she joined the almost completely revamped cast of “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In” during the 1972-73 season, its final season on the air.

Deutsch, who honed her comedic craft with Ace, was able to show it all off on “Laugh-In,” and she played a number of characters on the show, including that of one of the female members of the Farkle Family.

But with such a cast changeover–Gary Owens and Ruth Buzzi, and, of course, Dan Rowan and Dick Martin were the only holdovers from the first season, and there were only a few returnees from succeeding seasons–the once cutting-edge show dropped in the ratings, and Rowan and Martin decided to pull the plug on the series.

Undaunted, Deutsch moved over to another once hot series that in its revival, became hot all over again–“Match Game.”

Deutsch usually sat on the bottom row either on the right side or the left side of her “Laugh-In” counterpart, Richard Dawson. She was on the game show so much that while she wasn’t considered a regular, she was as near to a regular as one could be, appearing on numerous episodes.

Her answers to the fill-in questions usually did not match what the contestants said, and were often convoluted, making her sort of the “dumb redhead” of the show.

Deutsch also appeared on another game show with some frequency–“Tattletales,” in tandem with her husband, actor/writer Donald Ross.

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When that show ended its run, Deutsch moved almost wholly into cartoon voice work, including being on very successful “The Smurfs” cartoon show.

She also appeared in numerous films, including a small role in “Mr. Mom.”

Wikipedia erroneously includes in her bio that she appeared on some episodes of “The Merv Griffin Show” talking about her childhood in East McKeesport, Pa. The entry writer confused her with Donna Jean Young, another last season “Laugh-In” alum, who actually put out an LP related to her upbringing there.

Whatever the case, Deutsch was a very funny lady, and you can still see her in numerous reruns of “Laugh-In,” and “Match Game.”

Deutsch was 74 when she died on July 26.

Lawrence Lapka

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