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Ruth Buzzi’s Husband Says Strokes Left Her Bedridden

Ruth Buzzi is an 86-year-old actress, comedian, and singer best known for her performances on the iconic comedy-variety program Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. She appeared on the show from 1968 to 1973, and for her work on that series, she was awarded with a Golden Globe in addition to five Emmy nominations.

In 2015, Buzzi told Closer that her single greatest goal in life was to help people enjoy their lives through laughter. While she has largely been absent from the public eye in recent years, it’s pretty clear that Buzzi has accomplished that goal and then some.

After suffering from several strokes back in July of 2022, it’s been reported that Ruth is currently bedridden and incapacitated. Despite the difficult circumstances that she currently finds herself in, Buzzi’s husband of more than 43 years, Kent Perkins, says that she is handling her situation ‘bravely’ with humor.

In this facts-packed video, we’ll be taking a look back at Ruth Buzzi’s remarkable career while also checking in with her to see how she is coping with her ongoing health problems.

Buzzi’s Husband Says She’s Not In Pain

Kent Perkins has been by his wife’s side for the better part of the last half-century, and he’s not about to walk out on her now that she’s facing her greatest moment of need. Perkins recently told Closer that despite the fact that she is currently confined to her bed and isn’t able to do much on her own, Ruth is still able to treat her struggles with a sense of humor.

Kent further revealed that Ruth isn’t experiencing any pain and that she is is aware of all of the well-wishes that her fans have been sending her way. He went on to say that she can still speak, understand things, and recognize all of her loved ones and friends.

From Theater To Television

Ruth Buzzi was born in Westerly, Rhode Island, on the 24th of July, 1936. She’s the daughter of Angelo Peter Buzzi and Rena Pauline. Her father, a nationally recognized stone sculptor, came from an Italian family who immigrated from Anzo, Switzerland, back in 1923.

Ruth was raised in a quaint little village called Wequetequock in the town of Stonington, Connecticut, in a charming little stone house that overlooked the sea at Wequetequock Cove. There, her father owned a business called Buzzi Memorials. Following his death, Ruth’s eldest brother Harold continued to operate the business until entering into retirement in 2013.

In high school, Ruth was head cheerleader. At the age of 17, she enrolled at the Pasadena Playhouse, where she eventually graduated with honors.

Before she even graduated from college, Buzzi had already begun working as an actress. She held a union card in musical and comedy revues and was determined to make it in show business. At the age of 19, she scored her first gig traveling with singer Rudy Vallee in a live comedy and musical act.

She then moved to New York City shortly after graduating. There, she was hired for a lead role in an off-Broadway musical revue. This would be the first of 19 off-Broadway musicals that she would perform in around the East Coast.

Ruth worked alongside several other young aspiring performers who were likewise just getting started with their careers at the time, including Joan Rivers, Bernadette Peters, Barbra Streisand, Dom DeLuise, and Carol Burnett.

She soon was performing in New York musical variety shows. This led to her appearing in numerous television commercials, a few of which were honored with national awards, including the prestigious Clio Award.

Buzzi’s first taste of national recognition on TV came in 1964 when she appeared on The Garry Moore Show, not long after Carol Burnett was replaced on the series by Dorothy London. Buzzi played Shekundala the Silent, a hapless magician’s assistant to her comedy partner Dom DeLuise who portrayed the character ‘Dominic the Great’.

From 1964 to 1965, Buzzi made frequent appearances on the CBS variety program The Entertainers. From 1966 to 1967, she appeared in Sweet Charity alongside Bob Fosse’s wife Gwen Verdon as an original cast member. On that program, she had a few minor roles, including that of ‘the singing fairy’.

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Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In

Buzzi appeared in eight episodes of The Steve Allen Comedy Hour in 1967. The variety show, which was fairly short-lived, starred Steve Allen. Her character roles in the Steve Allen sketches eventually led her to be cast in NBC’s new variety show Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In.

Ruth ended up being the only featured player to appear in each and every episode of Laugh-in including it’s pilot and the Laugh-In TV special. She played numerous characters on the show including Flicker Farkle, the youngest member of the Farkle Family, Busy-Buizzi, a Hedda Hoppa-inspired gossip columnist, Doris Swizzler, a cocktail-lounge regular who always got soused with her husband Leonard (played by Dick Martin) and a Burbank Airline Stewardess who could be quite inconsiderate to passengers.

Buzzi’s most famous character was a spinster named Gladys Ormphby. Gladys was always seen wearing a particularly drab shade of brown with her bun up-do covered up by a hairnet conspicuously knotted in the middle of her forehead.

Buzzi first introduced this look when she was playing the character Agnes Gooch in a school production of the play Auntie Mame. In the majority of sketches, Gladys would use her purse as a weapon. She’d frantically flail her handbag vigorously in the direction of anyone who drew her wrath.

Gladys was also frequently the unwilling object of affection of Arte Johnson’s hilarious ‘dirty old man’ character Tyrone Horneigh. NBC ended up referring to these two characters collectively as ‘The Nitwits’ when they were included in the mid-1970s animated series Baggy Pants and the Nitwitz. Both Johnson and Buzzi voiced their respective roles in this short-lived cartoon.

Buzzi’s character Gladys was frequently featured in the Dean Martin Roasts hosted at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. Throughout those various roasts, she ranted about stars like Frank Sinatra, Muhammad Ali, and Lucille Ball. Each and every time, she aggressively attacked the roastee with her purse. She would also take a swing at Martin whenever he would make a wisecrack about her looks or romantic prospects.

Post-Rowan & Martin Success

Buzzi was a semi-regular on the ABC sitcom That Girl. In that series, she played Mario Thomas’s friend Margie ‘Pete’ Peterson. She also shared the screen with Jim Nabors in The Lost Saucer, which aired from September 11, 1975 to September 2, 1976.

In 1979, Ruth Buzzi co-starred in the Canadian children’s sketch-comedy program ‘You Can’t Do That On Television. In 1981, she guest-starred as the character Chloe, the wife of phone company career employee Henry Beesmeyer on CBS’s Alice.

In 1985, she guest-starred in the fantasy sitcom Down To Earth.

Branching out from acting, Buzzi recorded a single titled ‘You Oughta Hear The Song’ in 1977 which ended up reaching no. 90 on Billboard’s US Country Music Chart. Humorously in 2022, Buzzi joked that she wanted to send her thanks to the ‘millions and millions’ of people who didn’t buy a copy of her record as that meant she got to spend her time at home in 1978 instead of having to face, as she put it, ‘all of those aggravating audiences’.

Buzzi went on to guest star in numerous television series, including The Flip Wilson Show, The Dean Martin Music and Comedy Hour, Donny & Marie, The Carol Burnett Show, and Tony Orlando and Down – just to name a few. She also occasionally made appearances on game shows such as The Gong Show.

In the 80s, Buzzi voiced the Hanna-Barbera character Nose Marie in the animated series Pound Puppies. She also provided the voice of Mama Bear in the 1985 Berenstain Bears cartoon. In addition to those two programs, Buzzi voiced hundreds of characters in other animated series, including The Angry Beavers, The Smurfs, and Mo Willems’ Sheep in the Big City.

In the 90s, Buzzi joined the Sesame Street cast as the shopkeeper, Ruthie. Her character ran a little shop called Finders Keepers, which sold items that were previously owned by iconic nursery rhyme and fairy tale characters.

Retirement And Ailing Health

In 2021, Buzzi announced on social media that she was officially retiring from acting. A little over a year later on July 19, 2022, she suffered a series of strokes. Two weeks later, the 86-year-old posted a photo on Twitter accompanied with a message that gave her fans a humorous and uplifting update on her health.

The post read ‘Some people have strokes of luck; I had the other kind’. The picture included with the update was that of herself and her pet cat. Buzzi went on to thank all of her devoted fans for their outpouring of love, messages, cards, letters and Tweets.

She wrapped up her message by joking once again that while her final arrangements include cremation, she’s not yet ready to ‘make an ash’ out of herself.

Hopefully, Ruth Buzzi can continue to recover and heal following her strokes. It’s nice to see that regardless of the gravity of the situation, she’s still got her signature sense of humor intact.

With that, we’ll go ahead and wrap this video up. However, we’d love to hear from you! Do you consider yourself a fan of Ruth Buzzi and Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In? If so, what are some of your favorite moments featuring Buzzi’s performances in that groundbreaking show? Let us know in the comments.

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