Pat Paulsen Poster


Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (1)  | Trade Mark (1)  | Trivia (6)  | Personal Quotes (2)

Overview (4)

Born in South Bend, Washington, USA
Died in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico  (colon cancer)
Birth NamePatrick Layton Paulsen
Height 5' 8" (1.73 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Pat Paulsen was a comedian specializing in satire who thrived on television in the late 1960s. The highlight of his career came in the watershed year 1968 when - emulating Gracie Allen''s quixotic 1940 Presidential bid as the Surprise Party candidate - he launched his own campaign for the U.S. presidency on the STAG (Straight Talking American Government) ticket. His campaign started out as a filmed gag run weekly on "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour," lampooning the pretensions of American politicians. One sequence had Pat making a campaign stop, unfolding the small ladder-stool he used to stand on while speaking to the voters, and addressing an empty rail-yard. Since there was a camera there, it didn't really matter, as Newt Gingrich found out in his own rise in politics in the 1980s, when he made a name for himself addressing speeches to members of the House in an empty chamber. Since it was filmed by Congressional video cameras, it appeared Gingrich was taking on powerful people who were, in reality, not even there. As a politician, Pat Paulsen was ahead of his time.

Patrick Layton Paulsen was born on July 6, 1927 in South Bend, Washington, a small fishing town, to.Beulah Inez (Fadden) and Norman Inge Paulsen, who worked for the Coast Guard. His father was a Norwegian immigrant and his maternal grandmother was English. The family moved to California when he was 10, and after graduating from high school, Pat joined the U.S. Marine Corps during the waning days of World War II. Demobilized after the war, Paulsen worked a variety of jobs, including postal clerk, truck driver, hod carrier, and miner. Two jobs that prepared him for the campaign trail that lay in his future were Fuller brush salesman, toiling door to door selling his product with a smile on his face, and photostat operator, making numerous copies of documents. He attended San Francisco City College on the G.I. bill. After his college studies, Paulsen joined an acting company before forming a comedy trio that included his brother Lorin (who continues to entertain with a one man show as Abraham Lincoln). Paulsen went solo after the trio broke up, and established himself during the late 1950s and early 1960s, performing in clubs featuring folk music and satiric comedy inspired by the likes of 'Jean Shepherd (I)' and 'Mort Sahl'. A guitarist, he delivered comedic monologues at some of the hottest clubs on the circuit, including Los Angeles' Troubadour and San Francisco's Purple Onion.

His shtick was similar to that of Tom Smothers and his brother Dick Smothers, "The Smothers Brothers," whom he met while performing at The Purple Onion. Paulsen sold them two songs for $40, and the two acts would become forever linked in the public consciousness. Eventually, when "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" premiered on CBS-TV in 1967, Paulsen was one of the cast members. Long before there was a news desk at Saturday Night Live, the Smothers Brothers' show featured Paulsen as an editorialist, providing double-talk commentary on the issues of the day.

At the urging of the Smothers Brothers, Paulsen launched his 1968 Presidential campaign. The emphasis of the campaign was comedy, but lurking below the surface was serious commentary. Satire was what closed on Saturday night, but Paulsen brilliantly managed to slip satire into his comedy, without the abrasiveness of Sahl or Lenny Bruce. He was sending up the professional politicians, peppering his campaign talks with obvious lies, double-talk, and tongue-in-cheek attacks on the "real" candidates. His work as the "reel" candidate of the tumultuous, frequently absurd political year that was 1968 was the highlight of his career and gave him a place in the national consciousness and history. For his work on "The Smothers Brothers' Comedy Hour," he was awarded a special Emmy Award in 1968.

After The Smothers Brothers were canceled due to their outspokenly liberal politics in 1969, Paulsen rebounded with his own show, "Pat Paulsen's Half-a-Comedy Hour." The show was innovative and very funny, but times had changed and the mass audience was no longer receptive to Pat's brand of satire, which laid bare the foibles of the American people and their culture. It was canceled after half a season.

Pat ran another bid for the presidency by entering the New Hampshire primary in 1972, but his time had passed. He did continue to work regularly, appearing in nightclubs, theaters, and conventions throughout the country. He also appeared each summer at the Cherry County Playhouse Muskegon, Michigan, which he co-owned. At the theater, he produced and starred in 25 plays, including "The Fantastics", "The Odd Couple", "Harvey" and "The Sunshine Boys."

Pat Paulsen was too good to ever be forgotten, and he received the International Platform Association's prestigious "Mark Twain Award" for his outstanding work in the field of comedy. Prior winners included Art Buchwald, Mark Russell and Steve Allen. On April 24, 1997, Pat died in 1997 from pneumonia after an 18-month battle with colon cancer. He was 69 years old.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jon C. Hopwood

Family (1)

Spouse Noma Littell Henriques (22 October 1990 - 24 April 1997)  (his death)
Linda Chaney (20 July 1988 - 1989)  (divorced)
Betty Jane Cox (1959 - 1988)  (divorced)  (3 children)

Trade Mark (1)

Deadpan (often highly political) humor delivered with an expressionless face.

Trivia (6)

Always ran for President of the United States, starting in 1968. No one for sure ever knew if he was serious or not.
Had three children, Terri, Justin and Monty with Betty Jane Cox.
Won an Emmy award ("Special Classification of Individual Achievements" tying with Art Carney for The Jackie Gleason Show (1966)) for his work during the 1967-1968 season of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour (1967).
Former owner of the Cherry County Playhouse, a theater located in Traverse City, Michigan.
His last running mate (in his 1996 Presidential campaign) was fellow Sixties personality Tiny Tim.
His father was a Norwegian immigrant and his maternal grandmother was an English immigrant. Through his maternal grandfather, he had deep roots in the United States, including English, Dutch, and Irish ancestry.

Personal Quotes (2)

"If elected, I will win." - statement during his "Pat Paulsen for President" campaign.
[Commenting on the Vietnam war during his 1968 campaign] "A lot of people say we have to save face in Vietnam. Personally, I think we should save something a little more sensitive than face."

See also

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