The finest impressionists in comedy skits spoofing movies and TV series was a forerunner to Saturday Night Live's parody skits. Memorable parodies included ALL IN THE FAMILY with George Kirby (an African-American) as Archie Bunker and Marilyn Michaels as Edith. Marilyn Michaels was the only woman in the group and played most female roles ranging from Gracie Allen (with Rich Little as George Burns) to Lily Tomlin to Barbara Streisand. She had a strong singing voice and made music a major part of her solo skits. Niteclub favorite Frank Gorshin (The Riddler on TV's BATMAN) was noted for doing Kirk Douglas, Burt Lancaster, and Peter Faulk (as COLUMBO). Rich Little soon rose as the lead star and introduced new characterizations each week. Quite simply, he could do anyone. Though many of the Kopycats did the same impressions there was a real support system evident as if they belonged to a special club, which they did. In fact, "dueling impressions" was a frequent source of comedy. In one episode Raymond Burr (PERRY MASON, IRONSIDE) was the guest and each of the Kopycats surrounded Burr with their impression of him. Rich Little and Frank Gorshin were the best in the country and it was a marvel to seem them work together and with such able support from the rest of the cast. It seemed that everyone in the country was doing impressions of Rich Little doing someone else, Rich Little's Richard Nixon perhaps the most famous. Rich Little introduced young impressionist Fred Travalena on the show who seemed destined to walk in Little's shoes equally adept at comedy and singing parodies from Jim Nabors (both as squeeky Gomer Pyle and his baritone singing voice) to Glen Cambell. Impressionists have never been better or funnier.
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