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Posted at 6:54 PM ET, 01/29/2011

Impressionist David Frye dies at 76

By Matt Schudel
Matt Schudel

Not many young people remember David Frye these days, but in the late 1960s and early 1970s he was one of the country's top comedians -- and, without question, its finest political impressionist.

He was particularly known for his dead-on impersonation of President Richard Nixon, whom he skewered mercilessly and with devastating psychological insight.

Frye was all over the TV in those days and appeared on the final episode of the "Ed Sullivan Show" in 1971. Frye was a true artist, who did more than create vocal impersonations of his subjects: He inhabited their characters like an actor.

Of course, nothing ages faster than topical humor. If you don't remember those days, when everyone knew that LBJ came "to you tonight with a heavy heart" and that Nixon wanted to "make this perfectly clear," David Frye's humor may be lost on you. But no one practiced the art of political impersonation better than he did.

There are other examples on the Internet, but this early 1967 appearance on the Smothers Brothers show demonstrates Frye's amazing range:

By Matt Schudel  | January 29, 2011; 6:54 PM ET
Categories:  Matt Schudel  
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Comments

I still call them "roofers" from one of David's Nixon bits. He did good and made us laugh. Thanks.

Posted by: avlisk | January 29, 2011 7:48 PM | Report abuse

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