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Henry Gibson (21 September 193514 September 2009; age 73) was the prolific character actor who played Nilva in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine sixth season episode "Profit and Lace". He was also an occasional songwriter.

Outside of Star Trek, he is best remembered as a regular performer on the television variety series Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In from 1968 through 1971. He went on to appear in a large number of films, including several from Robert Altman and Joe Dante. His best known film role is country singer "Haven Hamilton" in Altman's acclaimed 1975 musical drama Nashville.

Douglas S. Cramer, the Executive in Charge of Production on Star Trek: The Original Series who worked with Gibson on the television series Wonder Woman, referred to Gibson as a comic genius of the 1960s and 1970s. [1]

Early life

Gibson was born James Bateman in Germantown, Pennsylvania. When he was eight years old, he began touring with the Philadelphia-based Mae Desmond Theater Company. He earned a bachelor's degree from Catholic University in 1957, after which he served in the US Air Force as an intelligence officer stationed in France.

As a struggling actor in the early 1960s, Bateman shared an apartment with his college friend and fellow rising actor Jon Voight. Together, Bateman and Voight thought of an idea to launch their careers: they would pose as "two brothers from the Ozarks who represented the United States on cultural tours and caused riots wherever they went." [2] Voight gave Bateman the name "Henry Gibson," while he would assume the identity of Harold. The two ultimately booked an appearance on NBC's The Tonight Show, but Voight opted not to continue the act, leaving Bateman to continue solo. Nonetheless, Bateman kept the name Henry Gibson as his stage name.

Early career

At the start of his career, Gibson became known for an act in which he portrayed a poet with a Southern accent who would recite comic poems while clutching a stuffed alligator. In 1963, Gibson made his film debut in the the 1963 Jerry Lewis comedy The Nutty Professor, in which Gibson and TOS guest actresses Julie Parrish and Celeste Yarnall played college students.

In 1964, Gibson appeared in the comedy film Kiss Me, Stupid, also featuring Ray Walston and John Fiedler. Gibson had worked with Walston earlier that year on an episode of My Favorite Martian, in which Walston played the star role. In 1965, Gibson appeared in the Three Stooges film The Outlaws Is Coming, with Nancy Kovack and Rex Holman. Gibson also made appearances on various television shows throughout the 1960s, including The Beverly Hillbillies, The Dick Van Dyke Show, and Bewitched.

Gibson joined the cast of Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In in 1968, where he often played "The Poet," reciting satirical poems while wearing a Nehru jacket and "hippie" beads and brandishing an outlandishly large artificial flower. For his act, Gibson emerged from behind a stage flat, stated the title of his poem, noted that it was "by Henry Gibson", bowed stiffly from the waist, recited his poem, and returned behind the flat. Gibson departed Laugh-In in 1971, but not before receiving a Golden Globe nomination for his performance on the show.

Notable film work

Like his fellow DS9 co-star Rene Auberjonois, Gibson worked with director Robert Altman on several films, beginning with The Long Goodbye in 1973. Gibson and Altman reunited on the aforementioned Nashville, in which Gibson performed with fellow Star Trek alumni Keith Carradine, Robert DoQui, and Bert Remsen. Gibson's portrayal in Nashville as country music singer Haven Hamilton earned him a National Society of Film Critics Award as Best Supporting Actor as well as a second Golden Globe nomination. Gibson also wrote and performed several songs for the film, which allowed him to share a Grammy Award nomination for Album of Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or Television Special.

Gibson again worked with Altman on 1979's A Perfect Couple (starring fellow DS9 guest star Paul Dooley) and 1980's HealtH (with Dooley, Alfre Woodard, Georgann Johnson, and Robert Fortier). Along with Robert Picardo and Dick Miller, Gibson also appeared in several Joe Dante films, including Innerspace (1987, with Pat Kehoe, Mark L. Taylor, Wendy Schaal, William Schallert, Kenneth Tobey, Andrea Martin, and Bruce Botnick), The 'burbs (1989, with Cory Danziger, Charles L. Hughes, Pat Kehoe, Wendy Schaal, Carey Scott, Bruce Botnick, and Tom Cranham), and Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990, with Zach Galligan, John Glover, Keye Luke, Kenneth Tobey, Leslie Neale, Ron Fassler, and Time Winters); of interesting note, all three movies featured music composed by Jerry Goldsmith, orchestrated by Arthur Morton, and edited by Kenneth Hall.

Other films in which Gibson appeared include The Blues Brothers (1980, with Charles Napier and James Avery, featuring stunt work by Charles Picerni, Bobby Bass, Victor Paul, Tom Steele, Dave Perna, Bill Couch, Sr., and Gary Epper, and matte paintings by Albert Whitlock and Syd Dutton), National Lampoon's Vacation (1983, with Miriam Flynn), Magnolia (1999, with Jim Beaver, April Grace, Pat Healy, and Don McManus), and Wedding Crashers (2005, with Ron Canada, Ellen Albertini Dow, Noél De Souza, Richard Riehle, and Tiffany Turner). His final movie was the 2007 comedy Big Stan, which also featured Richard Riehle and starred Jennifer Morrison.

Later television work

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was not Gibson's only foray into science fiction television. In 1999, he guest-starred on Total Recall 2070, and he subsequently appeared on Stargate SG-1, playing Marul in the 2002 episode "The Sentinel". Gibson also appeared in a number of fantasy-based shows ranging from Fantasy Island (working with series star Ricardo Montalban and fellow guest star John Schuck) and Wonder Woman (including the pilot and an episode with Vaughn Armstrong) to Sabrina, the Teenage Witch (in the recurring role of the Witch Judge) and Charmed (in an episode directed by John Kretchmer and co-starring Tim Kelleher).

Other television shows on which Gibson guest-starred include Love, American Style (on which he was a frequent guest), The Dukes of Hazzard, Magnum, P.I. (in an episode with Claudette Nevins), Quincy M.E. (which starred Robert Ito and Garry Walberg), Knight Rider, Murder, She Wrote (with Ron Glass and William Windom), Newhart, MacGyver, Sisters (with Ashley Judd), and The John Larroquette Show. One episode of MacGyver in which he appeared also featured TOS star James Doohan. Gibson had previously worked with Doohan's TOS co-star, William Shatner, on an episode of Shatner's first post-TOS series, Barbary Coast, in 1975.

Gibson also lent his voice to a number of animated television series, including the short-lived science fiction-oriented Galaxy High School, in which he and David L. Lander were part of the regular cast. Years later, Gibson voiced the recurring role of eye-patched reporter Bob Jenkins on the animated Fox series King of the Hill, which also featured the voices of Pamela Segall and Stephen Root. Gibson voiced on many other series, including Aaahh! Real Monsters (as Mayor Lendt) and Grim & Evil (as Lord Pain).

From 2004 to 2008, Gibson had a recurring role on Boston Legal, which starred the aforementioned William Shatner. Rene Auberjonois and John Larroquette, both of whom Gibson worked with in the past, also starred on the show at different points. On this series, Gibson played a peculiar, elderly judge who frequently tried cases involving Shatner's Denny Crane, who took delight in calling Gibson's character a "namby pamby." Gibson's DS9 co-star Armin Shimerman played a fellow judge in two of Gibson's Boston Legal episodes.


Gibson died on 14 September 2009 at his home in Malibu, California, following a brief battle with cancer. He was 73 years old. [3] He was survived by three sons from his forty-one-year marriage to Lois Joan Geiger, who passed away in 2007, as well as three sisters and two grandchildren. [4] Gibson was remembered in the "In Memoriam" section at the 16th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on 23 January 2010.

Other Trek connections

Additional projects in which Gibson appeared with other Star Trek performers include:



External links