Henry Gibson was an American actor and songwriter, well known as a cast member of Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In and for his recurring role as Judge Clark Brown on Boston Legal.
Gibson's performing career began at the age of seven. He appeared in many stage and theater productions. His career took off when he performed in the 1963 Jerry Lewis film The Nutty Professor. Gibson also appeared on The Dick Van Dyke Show, reading the poem "Keep A Goin'", which he turned into a song in the movie Nashville. Gibson appeared in four films by Robert Altman: The Long Goodbye, Nashville, as well as A Perfect Couple and Health. He also appeared in The Incredible Shrinking Woman. He was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Nashville and won the National Society of Film Critics award for his role of country music singer Haven Hamilton.
He spent three years as part of the Laugh-In television show's cast. He often played "The Poet," reciting poems with "sharp satirical or political themes". Gibson would emerge from behind a stage flat, wearing a Nehru jacket and "hippie" beads and holding an outlandishly large artificial flower. He would state the "[Title of poem] — by Henry Gibson", bow stiffly from the waist, recite his poem, and return behind the flat. Gibson's routine was so memorable that John Wayne actually performed it once in his own inimitable style: "The Sky — by John Wayne. The Sky is blue/The Grass is green/Get off your butt/And join the Marines!", whereupon Wayne left the scene by smashing through the flat. Gibson also regularly appeared in the "Cocktail Party" segments as a Catholic priest, sipping tea. He would put the cup on the saucer, recite his one-liner in a grave and somber tone, then go back to sipping tea. He also made recurring appearances in the 1969-1974 anthology Love, American Style.
In the 1989 Tom Hanks/Joe Dante comedy, The 'Burbs', Gibson played the villain. In 1980 he played the leader of the "Illinois Nazis" in the John Landis film The Blues Brothers. Most younger audiences associate him with this film in particular due to its popularity. He made a brief appearance in Paul Thomas Anderson's Magnolia as an eccentric barfly. He also worked frequently as a voice actor in animation, most notably portraying Wilbur the pig in the popular children's movie Charlotte's Web (1973). He also worked on the cartoon The Grim Adventures Of Billy & Mandy as Lord Pain.
Gibson re-teamed with director Dante a few years later when Gremlins 2 was released in 1990. He performed a cameo as the office worker who is caught taking a smoking break on camera and fired by the sadistic boss. He later had a leading role in a Season 5 episode of Stargate SG-1 entitled "The Sentinel", as the character Marul.
Gibson's most recent roles were alongside Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn in the 2005 comedy hit Wedding Crashers, and as supporting character Judge Clark Brown on the TV show Boston Legal.