Arte Johnson was an American actor and comedian.
Johnson began his career in show business working in New York nightclubs and off-Broadway revues.
His early television credits include appearances on such series as Dr. Kildare, The Andy Griffith Show, McHale’s Navy, The Jack Benny Program, The Twilight Zone, Bewitched, The Dick Van Dyke Show, and The Donna Reed Show.
Johnson was best known as one of the cast members of NBC’s sketch comedy/variety series Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. Johnson won an Emmy Award in 1969 for his work on the show.
Among his most popular characters on Laugh-In was Wolfgang, a cigarette-smoking German soldier who believed that World War II was still in progress, as he spied on the show while hidden behind bushes. He would then comment on sketches and jokes with the drawn-out catchphrase “Verrrry interesting …,” which Johnson claimed was inspired by a Nazi character who spoke the line during an interrogation scene in the 1942 film Desperate Journey (with Errol Flynn and Ronald Reagan).
His other iconic Laugh-In character was Tyrone F. Horneigh, a white-haired, lecherous old man who repeatedly sought to seduce Gladys Ormphby (Ruth Buzzi's prim spinster character) on a park bench. Those sketches would inevitably end with Gladys hitting Tyrone with her purse and he would fall off the bench, usually with a plea for help.
Johnson left Laugh-In in 1971, but continued to work as an actor through the 1990s, focusing mostly on voice-over work later in his career. He retired from acting in 2006.
Johnson died July 3, 2019, in Los Angeles, California. He was 90.