Alan Sues, a flamboyant and wacky member of the comic ensemble that made Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In a big hit for NBC in the late 1960s, died Thursday at his home in West Hollywood of an apparent heart attack. He was 85.
Sues was a regular on the comedy-variety show from 1968 until 1971, playing such characters as Uncle Al the Kiddies’ Pal, a hung-over children’s entertainer, and Big Al, an effeminate sportscaster. He left Laugh-In before its final season.
Rather than relying on a series of tightly scripted song-and-dance segments, Laugh-In offered up a steady, almost stream-of-consciousness run of non-sequitur jokes, political satire and madhouse antics from a cast of talented young actors and comedians that also included Goldie Hawn, Lily Tomlin, Ruth Buzzi, Arte Johnson, Henry Gibson and Jo Anne Worley.
Presiding over it all were veteran nightclub comics Dan Rowan and Dick Martin, whose stand-up banter put their own distinct spin on the show.
A native of Ross, Calif., Sues did theater in Pasadena before making his Broadway debut in Elia Kazan’s Tea and Sympathy in 1953. He appeared in such TV shows as The Wild, Wild West and The Twilight Zone — in the notable episode “The Masks,” where a wealthy eccentric forces his greedy heirs to wear masks at a Mardi Gras party or else be cut off from their inheritance — and in the 1964 film The Americanization of Emily.
George Schlatter, who was producing Laugh-In, spotted Sues in the off- Broadway musical comedy revue The Mad Show with Worley and offered him a job.
After Laugh-In, Sues appeared in such TV series as The Brady Brides, Punky Brewster and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch and played Professor Moriarty in a revival of William Gillette’s Sherlock Holmes on Broadway in 1975. He also appeared a loopy commercial for Peter Pan peanut butter in the ’70s.
Sues is survived by his sister-in-law, Yvonne.