Mostly Credited As: Arte Johnson
Sometimes Credited As: Artie Johnson
Birth Name: Arthur Stanton Eric Johnson
Date Of Birth: January 20, 1929 (Age 85)
Country Of Birth: USA
Birth Place: Benton Harbor, Michigan
Comic actor and voice-over artist Arte Johnson was born in Benton Harbor, Michigan (full name Arthur Stanton Eric Johnson). He attended the University of Illinois (he graduated in its class of 1949), and worked at the campus radio station as well as in the U. of Illinois Theater Guild, with which his brother, Cos, was also involved.
In New York City, after a stint at Viking Press and as copywriter in the advertising industry, Arte Johnson won a role in the Broadway play, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. He moved on to become a cast member of Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, a popular American TV show which ran between 1968 and 1973. On the weekly show, he played various characters including a Nazi soldier whose stock comment was “Verrry interesting...”, and variations thereof—spoken while smoking a cigarette.
Johnson reprised the Nazi character’s role with an incarnation called Virman Vunderbar in an episode of Justice League Unlimited. His other unforgettable Laugh-In character was Tyrone F. Horneigh, the trenchcoat-wearing “dirty old man” who importuned actress Ruth Buzzi’s park-bench sitting dowager to “come up and see my enchanted Walnetto”, weekly (and weakly, perhaps) inventing ever-more ridiculous ways to seduce the reluctant old gal. Arte took many bops on the noggin with a purse at the hands of his bench-bound muse.
Arte and his brother, Cos Johnson, both earned Emmy Awards while working on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In.
In 1976, Arte Johnson did the voice-over for the formally-dressed cartoon character Misterjaw, a shark with a German accent, on De Patie-Freleng Enterprises’ The Pink Panther Laugh and a Half Hour and a Half Show. In the 1970s, Arte hosted a game-show on NBC, Knockout. Arte Johnson also did the voice-over for “Newt", a hunting-dog on Animaniacs, who loved an unattainable mink named Minerva.
Arte Johnson has performed more than eighty audio-book readings, including the notable Absurdistan by Gary Shteyngart, in 2006.
Few people alive in the 1960s and 70s who watched American television will ever forget the catch-phrases made famous by Arte Johnson’s vividly portrayed characters; they are still being uttered by Baby Boomers today. Arte’s contributions to popular culture are numerous and varied, making him one of America’s all-time favorites.