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These 1960s Comedians Tripped the Light Joke-Tastic

As television continued to strengthen its hold on the American culture during the 60s, comedy staked its claim to the throne of TV royalty. And for the men and women who could make us laugh, the sky was the limit. Indeed, these 1960s comedians rocketed to the top of Hollywood’s hierarchy and helped set the stage for future generations of laugh-makers.

Bob Newhart

Bob Newhart is an actor, recording artist and comedian. He was famous for his 1960s comedy albums that he released first on a series of LPs (long playing records) before adapting to the new cassette tapes format. In addition to appearing in TV shows such as “The Bob Newhart Show” and films like “Elf” and “The Librarian,” Newhart has done voiceover work for various TV and radio cartoons.

Bob Hope

The 1960s may not have been the funniest decade in American history, but it was an important one – especially if you were named “Bob.” With fellow comedians like Jack Benny and Red Skelton rapidly aging past their TV prime, it was up to a new generation of comics like Bob Hope and Lucille Ball to keep the country laughing.

Of course Hope himself was no spring chicken, having begun his career in the 1930s. But he managed to stay on top of the comedy scene well into — and beyond! — the 1960s alongside such contemporary comedians as The Three Stooges, Lenny Bruce (who was actually a little too controversial for network TV), and even Don Rickles himself – who often appeared in Hope’s specials.

For years after his retirement from stand-up, Hope continued to make regular appearances on television as a guest or host. He still made occasional forays into film and TV work in his later years before passing away at the ripe age of 100 in 2003 — many decades after he first began appearing on American screens.

Lucille Ball

And speaking of Lucy, she was one of the 1960s’ most successful comedians. In fact, after “I Love Lucy” ended in 1957, and after as series of specials with Desi Arnaz through the late 1950s, Lucy was back on the air — on her own — in 1960.

Lucy, Desi and Ricky were reunited in Hollywood for a TV special at the start of that decade. They would also make an album together before Lucy’s death in 1989 from an abdominal aortic aneurysm — almost 40 years after she first landed on American screens.

Bill Cosby

Another huge 1960s talent, Bill Cosby was a well-known comedian and actor all through the decade. He is best known (among his 60s work, that is) for starring in “I Spy” with Robert Culp from 1965 to 1968.

Bill starred on the show “Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids,” which began airing in 1972. In 1984 he created another series called “The Cosby Show,” which became a huge hit. Bill remained a successful comedian and actor into the 2000s, when he had more TV shows and films made with him in starring roles.

Dick Van Dyke

Dick Van Dyke was well-known for his 1960s work on “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” which ran from 1961 to 1966. He starred as Rob Petrie, a TV writer who lives with his family in Westchester County, New York. The show was nominated for countless Emmy Awards, taking home the hardware an amazing 15 times.

Dick also starred as Bert in “Mary Poppins,” which premiered at Christmas 1964. In fact, he reprised his role in the film’s sequel, “Mary Poppins Returns,” which was released last year.

Dick has had a long and varied career that spans many decades, but 1960s comedy is what made him famous.

Andy Griffith

Griffith was one of the 1960s’ most beloved comic actors. He starred in “The Andy Griffith Show” as widowed sheriff Andy Taylor and ran for eight seasons, from 1960 to 1968. The show was a ratings hit throughout its run, winning four Emmy Awards (a record at the time), but it also existed outside of TV – it became a TV and cultural icon.

Griffith had success in 1960s comedy, but he also tapped into the public’s parental nostalgia with children’s entertainment like “Matlock,” which ran from 1986 to 1995.

(Like 1960s Comedians? Then you might like our article on Great 1990s Comedians, click here.)

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