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Henry Gibson, 1935-2009

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Most people who remember Henry Gibson — who has died of cancer at age 73 — remember him as the winsome poet (“by Henry Gibson”) on Laugh-In. That was a good bit — a sort of Percy Dovetonsils for the age of cool — but fans of Robert Altman films knew he could be funny and tough, too, as the manipulative therapist in The Long Goodbye (“Sign the check, Roger, sign the check, Roger…”) and the quietly megalomaniacal singing star Haven Hamilton in Nashville, for which Gibson wrote two echt country songs, including the amazing 200 Years. His performance style was usually a little detached, which was useful both for broad comedy and for suggesting that a character was at least somewhat insane.

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