October 18, 2005

Beloved Comic Actor Louis Nye Dies

Former Steve Allen Sidekick was 92

Louis Nye

Los Angeles, CALouis Nye, the veteran actor and comedian who brought laughs to generations of television viewers, has died at his Los Angeles home at age 92. According to his son, Peter Nye, the cause of death was lung cancer.

A comic performer whose career spanned more than half a century, Nye, a native of Hartford, Connecticut, began as a radio personality and eventually moved into television, where he became a national cause célèbre when he coined the booming catch phrase “Hi-ho, Steverino,” as a salutation to Steve Allen on Allen’s popular 1950s talk show.

Nye, who appeared opposite Allen from 1956-1961, adopted the phrase in the guise of Gordon Hathaway, an arrogant adman whose business suit and beaming smile lampooned the popular image of the foursquare American executive defined by the novel The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit.

When his association with Allen, whom he originally met in an elevator, ended, Nye became a regular guest on TV game shows, in films and as a regular on The Ann Sothern Show and the first season of The Beverly Hillbillies.

Over the past thirty-plus years, Nye continued to work regularly in nightclubs and on television. Most recently he had a recurring role in the HBO comedy Curb Your Enthusiasm as the father of Jeff Garlin’s character, a role he played from 2000 to 2002.

His many television credits include short-lived 1970 variety show Happy Days and Needles and Pins, a sitcom set in the garment industry, opposite Norman Fell. Renowned for his mastery of foreign accents and humorous vocal renditions, he also provided various voices for the animated series Inspector Gadget, and guest starred on such series as The Munsters, Laverne & Shirley, The Love Boat and St. Elsewhere.

Nye’s film credits included Cannonball Run II, Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood, A Guide for the Married Man, Good Neighbor Sam and O.C. and Stiggs.

In addition to his son, an artist based in San Francisco, Nye is survived by his wife, pianist and songwriter Anita Leonard.

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