Carol Burnett Wanted an Announcer Who Was More

Lyle Waggoner worked his way up to full cast member
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 17, 2020 7:20 PM CDT
Announcer Became a Player on Carol Burnett
Lyle Waggoner arrives at the "The Carol Burnett 50th Anniversary Special" in Los Angeles in 2017.   (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP, File)

Lyle Waggoner, who used his good looks to comic effect on the Carol Burnett Show, partnered with a superhero on Wonder Woman and was the first centerfold for Playgirl magazine, died Tuesday. He was 84. Waggoner, who was battling cancer, died Tuesday at his Los Angeles-area home with his wife of 60 years, Sharon, at his side, according to a family statement. A household name in the 1970s, Waggoner went on to become a successful entrepreneur. He built a behind-the-scenes business that provides custom trailers that keep stars comfortable during production breaks. Playing on his surname, he called it Star Waggons. In the mid-1960s, the Kansas-born Waggoner was appearing in run-of-the-mill movies such as Swamp Country and The Catalina Caper and was a finalist to play “Batman” in the campy TV series that eventually starred Adam West. Then he was called to audition for Burnett's variety show.

The actress-comedian recalled that she wanted an announcer for the show who could do more than introduce commercials. He had to also be good-looking, so she could do her ugly-duckling, romance-besotted character with him—and funny. "In walked Lyle Waggoner," she recalled in her 2010 book, This Time Together. "Gorgeous? Yes. But so much more. He was incredibly funny. He had a sly, tongue-in-cheek delivery that told you he was putting himself on and not taking himself seriously." As the series evolved, she said, he showed such comic instincts that he got roles in sketches and became a full member of the cast. Along the way, he made history of sorts in 1973 when Playgirl magazine chose him as his first centerfold. In 1976, Waggoner was picked for Wonder Woman, which starred Lynda Carter. Later, he focused on his rental business. "I was always looking for a backup because I knew the (television) series—they don't last forever," he once said. (One of Hollywood's most prolific actors died Monday.)

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