Ruth Ann Buzzi
July 24, 1936
Westerly, Rhode Island, U.S.
|Years active||1955–2009, 2017–2021|
Ruth Ann Buzzi (// BUZZY; born July 24, 1936) is an American actress, comedian, and singer. She has appeared on stage, in films, and on television. She is best known for her performances on the comedy-variety show Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In from 1968 to 1973, for which she won a Golden Globe Award and received five Emmy nominations.
Buzzi was born at Westerly Hospital, Westerly, Rhode Island, the daughter of Rena Pauline and Angelo Peter Buzzi, a nationally recognized stone sculptor. Her father, who came from an Italian family, immigrated from Arzo, Switzerland in 1923. She was raised in the village of Wequetequock in the town of Stonington, Connecticut, in a rock house overlooking the ocean at Wequetequock Cove, where her father owned Buzzi Memorials, a business that her older brother Harold operated until his retirement in 2013.
Before graduation from college, Buzzi was already a working actress with a union card in musical and comedy revues. Her first job in show business was at 19, traveling with singer Rudy Vallee in a live musical and comedy act during her summer break from college; it allowed her to graduate with an Actors' Equity Association union card. She moved to New York City after graduation and was hired immediately for a lead role in an off-Broadway musical revue, the first of 19 in which she performed around the East Coast. She worked alongside other young performers just beginning their careers at the time, including Barbra Streisand, Joan Rivers, Dom DeLuise, Bernadette Peters, and Carol Burnett. She performed in New York musical variety shows, and she made numerous television commercials, some of which won national awards including the Clio Award.
Her first national recognition on television came on The Garry Moore Show in 1964, just after Carol Burnett was replaced by Dorothy Loudon on the series. She performed as "Shakundala the Silent", a bumbling magician's assistant to her comedy partner Dom DeLuise, who played "Dominic the Great". Buzzi was a member of the regular repertory company on the CBS variety show The Entertainers (1964–65). In 1966–67, she appeared in Sweet Charity with Bob Fosse's wife Gwen Verdon in the original cast. She had several small roles, including "the Singing Fairy".
In 1967, Buzzi appeared in all eight episodes of The Steve Allen Comedy Hour, a variety series starring Steve Allen. Her character parts in the Allen sketches led her to be cast for NBC's new show Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In. She was the only featured player to appear in every episode of Laugh-In including the pilot for the show and the Laugh-In television special. Among her recurring characters on Laugh-In were Flicker Farkle, youngest of the Farkle family; Busy-Buzzi, a Hedda Hopper-type Hollywood gossip columnist; Doris Swizzler, a cocktail-lounge habituée who always got smashed with husband Leonard (Dick Martin); and one of the Burbank Airlines Stewardesses, inconsiderate flight attendants.
Her most famous character was "spinster" Gladys Ormphby, clad in drab brown with her bun hairdo covered by a visible hairnet knotted in the middle of her forehead. Buzzi first used this look when she played Agnes Gooch in a school production of Auntie Mame. In most sketches, she used her purse as a weapon, with which she would flail away vigorously at anyone who incurred her wrath. She most often was the unwilling object of the advances of Arte Johnson's "dirty old man" character Tyrone F. Horneigh. NBC collectively called these two characters The Nitwits when they went to animation in the mid-1970s as part of the series Baggy Pants and the Nitwits. Buzzi and Johnson both voiced their respective roles in the cartoon.
Buzzi was featured as Gladys in many of the Dean Martin Roasts from the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, ranting about notable roastees including Muhammad Ali, Frank Sinatra, and Lucille Ball. In each case, Gladys pugnaciously attacked the honoree with her purse, and she would also hit Martin when he made disparaging remarks about her looks and her romantic prospects.
Continued success on television
Buzzi was featured as a semi-regular on the comedy That Girl as Marlo Thomas's friend Margie "Pete" Peterson.[better source needed] She starred with Jim Nabors as the time-traveling androids Fi and Fum in The Lost Saucer produced by Sid and Marty Krofft which aired from September 11, 1975, until September 2, 1976 (16 episodes).
In 1979, she co-starred on the Canadian kid's comedy show You Can't Do That on Television (also known as Whatever Turns You On).
Buzzi also guest-starred as Chloe, the wife of phone company worker Henry Beesmeyer (Marvin Kaplan) on Alice in 1981. She was also a guest star on Down to Earth in 1985. Dean Martin's producer Greg Garrison hired her for his comedy specials starring Dom DeLuise. She recorded the single "You Oughta Hear The Song" in 1977 which reached number 90 on Billboard's national Country Music chart; Buzzi joked in 2022 in hindsight: "Here’s a medley of my hit song: I’d like to thank the millions and millions of you who didn’t buy a copy. I got to spend quality time at home in ‘78 instead of standing in front of all those aggravating audiences."
Buzzi was a guest star on many television series, including Donny & Marie, The Flip Wilson Show, The Dean Martin Music and Comedy Hour, the Dean Martin Roasts, The Carol Burnett Show, Tony Orlando and Dawn, The Monkees, Emergency!, and variety series hosted by Leslie Uggams and by Glen Campbell. She also appeared occasionally on game shows and was a celebrity judge on The Gong Show. She appeared on Lucille Ball's last comedy Life with Lucy as Mrs. Wilcox in the episode "Lucy Makes a Hit with John Ritter". She appeared eight times on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and has made more than 200 other television guest appearances.[better source needed]
Buzzi voiced the character Nose Marie in the Hanna-Barbera animated series Pound Puppies (1986). She also voiced Mama Bear in Berenstain Bears (1985) and performed hundreds of guest voices for many other cartoon series, including The Smurfs, The Angry Beavers, and Mo Willems' Sheep in the Big City.[better source needed]
She joined the cast of Sesame Street in 1993 as shopkeeper, Ruthie, as part of the Around the Corner set expansion. Ruthie ran Finders Keepers, which sold items previously owned by fairy tale and nursery rhyme characters. After the set was removed in 1999 she continued to appear on the show, often in inserts, usually in costume as other characters. She also voiced Suzie Kabloozie and her pet cat, Feff in animated inserts that were shown on the show from 1994 to 2008. She reprised her role as Ruthie in Sesame Street Stays Up Late, Sesame Street's All Star 25th Birthday: Stars and Street Forever and Elmopalooza as well as the direct-to-video production, The Best of Elmo and the feature film The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland.
Buzzi performed in numerous national television commercials, most notably for Clorox 2, Clairol, Ban roll-on deodorant, and Santa Anita Park, and she voiced Granny Goodwitch in television commercials for Sugar Crisp cereal. She originated the Goodwitch character in the animated TV series Linus the Lionhearted (1964–65).[better source needed]
Buzzi appeared in the "Weird Al" Yankovic video "Gump" and similarly appeared in other music videos with the B-52's and The Presidents of the United States of America. She appeared on Saved by the Bell, The Muppet Show, two episodes of You Can't Do That on Television in 1979 (as well as the entire run of the You Can't Do That On Television's spinoff Whatever Turns You On), and numerous other television shows. She played the role of the eccentric Nurse Kravitz on NBC's daytime soap opera Passions. In 2006 and 2007, she made guest appearances on the children's TV series Come on Over.[better source needed]
Buzzi had a successful nightclub act across the United States, including at Las Vegas's Sahara and at the MGM Grand hotels. She performed the act for one year. Her shows all sold out and she was reportedly offered an extended stay but declined.
She had featured roles in more than 20 films, including Chu Chu and the Philly Flash, Freaky Friday, The North Avenue Irregulars, The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again, The Villain, The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland, and a number of westerns for the European market known as the Lucky Luke series in which she plays the mother of the Dalton Gang.[better source needed]
In 2021, she announced on her social media account that she officially retired from acting.
|1969||It's Tough to Be a Bird||Soprano||Performs "When the Buzzards Return to Hinckley Ridge", a parody of "When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano"|
|1970||The Aristocats||Frou-Frou||Singing voice|
|1976||Freaky Friday||Opposing Coach|
|1977||The Rescuers||German Mouse||Voice; uncredited/unconfirmed|
|1979||The North Avenue Irregulars||Dr. Rheems|
|The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again||Old Tough Kate, aka 'Granny'|
|The Villain||Damsel in Distress|
|1980||I Go Pogo||Miz Beaver / Miss Mam'selle Hepzibah||Voice|
|1981||Chu Chu and the Philly Flash||Consuelo|
|1983||The Being||Virginia Lane|
|1984||Surf II||Chuck's Mom|
|1986||Bad Guys||Petal McGurk|
|1988||Pound Puppies and the Legend of Big Paw||Nose Marie||Voice|
|1989||Up Your Alley||Marilyn|
|My Mom's a Werewolf||Madame Gypsy|
|1990||Diggin' Up Business||Widow Knockerby|
|1994||The Best of Elmo||Ruthie||Direct-to-video|
|1999||The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland||Ruthie|
|2000||Nothing but the Truth||Lois Troy|
|2004||Adventures in Homeschooling||Gertie Hemple||Short Film|
|2020||Glenn's Gotta Go!||Grandma Polly|
|2021||One Month Out||Agnes||Final role before retirement|
|1964||The Garry Moore Show||Herself||season 6, episode 32|
|1964–1965||Linus the Lionhearted||Granny Goodwitch||3 episodes|
|1967–1973||Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In||Regular Performer||141 episodes|
|1967||The Steve Allen Comedy Hour||Herself|
|1967||The Monkees||Mrs. Weatherspoon||1 episode|
|1967–1968||That Girl||Pete Peterson||5 episodes|
|1968–1973||The Carol Burnett Show||Various characters||5 episodes|
|1969||That's Life||1 episode|
|1969||In Name Only||Ruth Clayton||TV Movie|
|1970–1982||Walt Disney anthology television series||Granny||6 episodes|
|1970–1974||The Dean Martin Show||Herself||16 episodes|
|1970–1973||Love, American Style||Beverly||2 episodes|
|1971||Night Gallery||Hungry Witch||1 episode|
|1972||The Singles||TV Movie, also starring Michele Lee and John Byner|
|1972||Here's Lucy||Annie Whipple||1 episode|
|1973–1976||Medical Center||Rose Jenkins||2 episodes|
|1974||Lotsa Luck||Wilma Wallachek||1 episode|
|1974||Paradise||TV Movie, also starring Luther Adler|
|1974||ABC Afterschool Special||Cleaning Lady||1 episode|
|1975–1976||The Lost Saucer||Fi||16 episodes|
|1976||Emergency!||Amy Merkle||1 episode|
|1976||The Muppet Show||Guest Star||season one, episode 4|
|1977–1978||Baggy Pants and the Nitwits||Gladys||16 episodes|
|1977||Once Upon a Brothers Grimm||Queen Astrid||TV Movie|
|1978–1987||The Love Boat||Herself||2 episodes|
|1979||Legends of the Superheroes||Aunt Minerva||Part Two of a Two Part TV Special|
|1979||You Can't Do That on Television||Ms. Fitt||2 episodes|
|1979||Whatever Turns You On||Miss Fit|
|1980||Myra||Mrs. Paige||Animated Short|
|1981||Alice||Chloe||Henry's Bitter Half|
|1981||Aloha Paradise||Herself||1 episode|
|1982||Trapper John, M.D.||Laura Morley||1 episode|
|1983||Gun Shy||Mrs. Mound||1 episode|
|1983||Days of Our Lives||Leticia Bradford||unknown episodes|
|1983||Alvin and the Chipmunks||13 episodes|
|1984||Don't Ask Me, Ask God||Jonesey's Wife||TV Movie, also starring Pat Robertson and Steve Allen|
|1985||Paw Paws||Aunt Pruney Paw||unknown episodes|
|1985||George Burns Comedy Week||Juliette||1 episode|
|1985-1987||The Berenstain Bears||Mama Bear||52 episodes|
|1985||The Jetsons||1 episode|
|1986||Check It Out!||Tiffany Cobb, Mrs. Cobb's Daughter||1 episode|
|1986||Life with Lucy||Mrs. Wilcox||1 episode|
|1986||Kids Incorporated: Rock in the New Year||Blanche||TV Movie|
|1986–1987||Pound Puppies||Nose Marie||26 episodes|
|1987||Milroy, Santa's Misfit Mutt||Mrs. Claus (voice)||TV Short (also starring Buddy Ebsen)|
|1988||Rockin' with Judy Jetson||Felonia Funk (voice)||TV Movie|
|1988–1990||The Munsters Today||Dracula's Mom||2 episodes|
|1988–1991||Out of This World||Mrs. Miller, Mabel T Stone||3 episodes|
|1989||Marvin: Baby of the Year||Chrissy's Mother (voice)||TV Short|
|1990||Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers||Mrs. Sweeney (voice)||1 episode|
|1990||Gravedale High||voice role||unknown episodes|
|1990||Saved by the Bell||Roberta Powers||1 episode|
|1991||They Came from Outer Space||Carol||1 episode|
|1991||The New Adam-12||Mrs. Woolridge||1 episode|
|1992||Lucky Ed's Tabloid News||Sample Lady||TV Movie|
|1992||Darkwing Duck||Alien Crow (voice)||2 episodes|
|1992||Lucky Luke||Ma Dalton||1 episode|
|1992||Major Dad||Mattie Fae Tillman||1 episode|
|1993||I Yabba-Dabba Do!||Additional Voices||TV Movie|
|1993||Wild West C.O.W.-Boys of Moo Mesa||1 episode|
|1993||Hollyrock-a-Bye Baby||Additional Voices||TV Movie|
|1993||The Pink Panther||1 episode|
|1993–2008||Sesame Street||Ruthie, voice of Suzie Kabloozie and Feff, Gladys Ormphby, The Fairy Godplant||Buzzi played the role of Ruthie from 1993 to 2001 but segments featuring Suzie Kablozzie and Feff were repeated on the show until 2008.|
|1993||Sesame Street Stays Up Late!||Ruthie|
|1994||Sesame Street's All-Star 25th Birthday: Stars and Street Forever!||Ruthie||TV Special|
|1995||Savage Dragon||Various Voices||unknown episodes|
|1997||The Jamie Foxx Show||Judge Lekeisha Roshanda Jackson||1 episode|
|1998||Sabrina the Teenage Witch||Delilah||1 episode 6 Good Will Haunting|
|1998–2001||7th Heaven||Telephone Operator||2 episodes|
|1999||Boys Will Be Boys||Mrs. Rudnick||TV Movie, also starring Randy Travis and Mickey Rooney|
|1999||Diagnosis Murder||Liz Summers||1 episode|
|2000||Rocket Power||Dog Owner||1 episode|
|2000||100 Deeds for Eddie McDowd||Old Lady||1 episode|
|2000||The Angry Beavers||Mrs. Beaver||1 episode|
|2000–2001||Sheep in the Big City||Delilah||7 episodes|
|2003||Passions||Nurse Kravitz||2 episodes|
|2006–2007||Come on Over||Ruthie||2 episodes|
- Five Emmy Award nominations and won the Golden Globe Award from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association in 1973 for her work on Laugh-In
- On November 22, 2014, Women in Film (Dallas, Texas chapter) awarded Buzzi their highest achievement honor, the Topaz Award, at their annual gala.
- She was inducted in 2002 into the NAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame, which bestowed the honor to the producers, director and entire cast of Laugh-In
- In 1971 she was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame.
- Lifetime Achievement Award by the Pasadena Playhouse of the Performing Arts
- Clio Award for Best Spokesperson in a television commercial for her series of Clorox-2 commercials, and was among the first of only a few Caucasian women to ever win an NAACP Image Award
- Buzzi was named a "Distinguished Woman of Northwood" by the Board of Regents of Northwood University in 2008
Personal life and health
Buzzi is a charter member of the Pasadena Playhouse Alumni Association. Buzzi paints as a hobby; she has never offered her oil paintings for sale to the public, but has donated original works to charity, where they have sold in excess of $6,000.
Buzzi supports numerous children's charities including Make a Wish Foundation, the Special Olympics, The Thalians, St. Jude's Hospital, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and is a children's art summer camp sponsor through Dallas Museum of Biblical Art. She is active in fundraising for the Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch in Medina, Texas and other animal causes.
Buzzi lives with her husband Kent Perkins on a 600-acre (240 ha) cattle and horse ranch near Stephenville, Texas. Buzzi and her husband are avid automobile collectors. Their collection focuses on post-war English vehicles including Bentley and Rolls-Royce and Jaguar, although it also includes several American convertibles and muscle cars. Some of her vehicles have been in television commercials, featured in parades, and her blue Bentley convertible was featured on the cover of Vogue with Jessica Simpson behind the wheel. with some of their cars having been donated and/or loaned to and displayed at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California including a red, fuel-injected 1957 Chevrolet convertible that was exhibited (from 1993 to 2011) as part of the display honoring the cars of Steve McQueen. Buzzi's 1960 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud drophead coupe convertible was on display for the "Century of Elegance" exhibit.
The museum featured a 1965 Chrysler Imperial convertible previously owned by Katharine Hepburn, donated to the museum by Buzzi and Perkins in 2001 and the vehicle remains there for special exhibition. Buzzi and Perkins won first place in their category with their 1961 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud II drophead coupe at the Concours d'Elegance national championship in Amelia Island, Florida. The vehicle won first place in the Los Angeles Rolls Royce Owners Club's "most elegant car" competition.
Buzzi has been name-dropped in numerous songs, including House of Pain's "I'm A Swing It", The Bled's "Ruth Buzzi Better Watch Her Back", and the Loretta Lynn/Conway Twitty duet "You're the Reason Our Kids Are Ugly".
On July 19, 2022, Buzzi suffered a series of strokes.
- "Celebrity birthdays for the week of July 18–24". ABC News. Associated Press. July 12, 2021. Retrieved April 19, 2022.
- Steele, Lee (December 23, 2018). "Ruth Buzzi, Stonington native and 'Laugh-In' star, is far from both Hollywood and her hometown". Connecticut Post. Bridgeport. Retrieved April 19, 2022.
- https://www.babcocksmithhouse.org/GraniteIndustry/NewspaperSeries/graniteweek48aBuzzi.pdf[bare URL PDF]
- Riggs, Thomas (2006). Buzzi, Ruth. Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. Cengage Gale. p. 103. ISBN 978-0787690458.
- White, Brooke Constance (September 12, 2016). "New Buzzi Memorials owner to carry on tradition of craftsmanship". The Westerly Sun. Retrieved December 18, 2020.
The business, which his father established in 1933, is well known locally for its iconic "Buzzi Memorials" billboard sign seen from Route 1. Many also recognize the name because Harold’s younger sister is the famous comedian and actress Ruth Buzzi, who starred on "Laugh In."
- Fyke, Corey (November 6, 2013). "Ruth Buzzi: Comedienne and Former Stonington High School Cheerleader!". Patch.
- Littleton, Darryl J.; Littleton, Tuezdae (2012). Comediennes Laugh Be a Lady. Applause Theatre & Cinema Books. p. 65. ISBN 9781480329744.
- Ruth Buzzi at IMDb
- Here’s a medley of my hit song: I’d like to thank the millions and millions of you who didn’t buy a copy. I got to spend quality time at home in ‘78 instead of standing in front of all those aggravating audiences.
- After 2021, she said she is retired on her official social media accounts.
- Hernandez, Al Carlos (March 14, 2011). "Golden Globe winning Comic Icon Ruth Buzzi". Herald de Paris. Retrieved September 15, 2012.
- Oates, Diana (January 16, 2014). "Museum of Biblical Art throws swinging 8x8 art auction and party". CultureMap Dallas. Retrieved December 18, 2020.
- "We Salute Our Pen Sponsors". Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch. Archived from the original on July 16, 2012. Retrieved September 15, 2012.
- Thomas, Nick (March 5, 2017). "At Age 80, Ruth Buzzi Settles Down In Texas". The Post-Journal. Jamestown, NY. Retrieved April 6, 2018.
- "Buzzi loves pulling up in an eye-catching Rolls". Deseret News. Salt Lake City. June 22, 2003. Retrieved September 15, 2012.
- "North Texas actor Ruth Buzzi showing 'improvement' after suffering series of strokes". MSN.