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Foster Brooks
Born May 11, 1912(1912-05-11)
Louisville, Kentucky
Died December 20, 2001 (aged 89)
Encino, California
Years active 1952-1996
Spouse(s) Loretta Brooks (1933-1950)
Terri Brooks (1950-2001)

Foster Brooks (May 11, 1912 – December 20, 2001) was an American actor and comedian most famous for his portrayal of a lovable drunken man in nightclub performances and television programs.



Foster Brooks was born in Louisville, Kentucky, on May 11, 1912. He was one of eight sons. His career started in radio, most notably with station WHAS (AM) in Louisville. Brooks was a staff announcer, but his deep baritone voice was well-suited for singing as well. Brooks gained some measure of fame for his reporting of the Ohio River flood of 1937, where he was featured on emergency broadcasts by WHAS and also WSM (AM) out of Nashville, Tennessee. In 1952, Brooks appeared on local television in a short-lived spoof of Gene Autry and his "Singing Cowboys." He later worked in local broadcasting as a radio and TV personality in Buffalo and Rochester, New York before moving to the west coast to launch a career as a standup comic and character actor.

On the syndicated Steve Allen show of the 1960s, Allen introduced Brooks as an important movie producer. Brooks stumbled on stage doing his drunk act, fooling some of the other guests. Brooks claimed to be the executive in charge of editing movies for television. His biggest success, he said, was the famous movie The Three Commandments.

Singer Perry Como discovered Brooks in 1969, giving the comedian his major break. Como chose Brooks to open for him, and when a manager balked at the newcomer, Como refused to perform. The manager acquiesced, and Brooks was an instant hit.

Brooks regularly appeared on The Dean Martin Show (Celebrity Roast) television program in the 1970s, as well as many situation comedies, talk shows, and a few films. Although he had only one basic signature character, he exhibited such extraordinary timing and subtlety that he was instantly recognized as one of the great comic performers of the time. His signature routine was the basis of a hit comedy album entitled "Foster Brooks, The Lovable Lush," released in the early 1970s.

As his "Lovable Lush" character, Brooks usually portrayed a conventioneer who had had a few too many drinks — not falling-down drunk, but inebriated enough that he would mix up his words to comedic delight. Brooks drew upon his own battles with alcohol for his act, but during his period of greatest fame, Brooks rarely drank. Of giving up drinking to win a bet in 1964, Brooks said, "Fellow made me a $10 bet I couldn't quit, and I haven't had a drink since. At the time I needed the $10." He would occasionally make cameo appearances in which his character was perfectly sober, such as his appearance in a 1968 episode of Adam-12 playing a straight-laced citizen who tries to get out of a parking ticket by dropping the name of an officer senior to the main characters.

In character, Brooks asked Dean Martin to join his group “Alcoholics Unanimous,” a play on Alcoholics Anonymous. He boasted he and Martin were charter members of the DUI Hall of Fame.

Brooks slurs to Martin, "his close friends are members of the CHP and LAPD" for his large number of DUI tickets.

Brooks appeared in the 1977 Johnny Cash television special, A Concert: Behind Prison Walls, where he portrayed himself as a drunken man and also sang the song "Half as Much".

Public sensibilities had changed regarding alcoholics and public drunkenness by the 1980s, so Brooks moved away from his drunk character. He had a recurring role as Mr. Sternhagen, Mindy's boss on Mork & Mindy. For many years, his name was a moniker on a Louisville celebrity golf tournament benefiting Kosair Charities.

Brooks's brother, Tom, was a well-known entertainer in Louisville for many years. Tom Brooks played "Cactus," a hayseed character and sidekick to Randy Atcher on T-Bar-V Ranch and Hayloft Hoedown, two popular local shows on WHAS-TV for many years in the 1950s and 1960s.

Years later Brooks was referred to on the Cartoon Network television show Space Ghost Coast to Coast (episode 45, "Switcheroo II"). He was featured in a scene that was cut before being aired, but the scene was later included on the Space Ghost Coast to Coast volume 3 DVD release.[1] He is also referenced on an episode of Get a Life (TV series) called Paperboy 2000. On the March 1, 2010 episode of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart referred to Senator Sheldon Whitehouse's mispronunciation of a constituent's name by saying, "It's not supposed to end on a Foster Brooks hiccup."

Brooks died on December 20, 2001, at his home in Encino, California. He was 89, and had been suffering from heart trouble.[2]


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