Dan Rowan

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Dan Rowan
Dan Rowan
Birth name Daniel Hale Rowan
Born (1922-07-22)July 22, 1922
Beggs, Oklahoma
Died September 22, 1987(1987-09-22) (aged 65)
Siesta Key, Florida
Years active 1952-1982
Spouse Phyllis J. Mathis (m.1946)
Adriana Van Ballegooyen (1963-1971)
Joanna Young (1974-1987)

Daniel Hale "Dan" Rowan (July 22, 1922 – September 22, 1987) was an American comedian. He was featured in the television show Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, where he played straight man to Dick Martin, and won the 1969 Emmy for Outstanding Variety or Musical Series.

Early life and career

Born on a carnival train near the small town of Beggs, Oklahoma, under the name of "Daniel Hale David", Rowan toured with his parents, Oscar and Nellie David, who performed a singing and dancing act with the carnival. He was orphaned at the age of 11, spent four years at the McClelland Home in Pueblo, Colorado, then was taken in by a foster family at the age of 16 and enrolled in Central High School. After graduating from high school in 1940, he hitchhiked to Los Angeles, California, and found a job in the mailroom at Paramount Pictures, quickly ingratiating himself with studio head Buddy DeSylva. A year later he became Paramount's youngest staff writer.

World War II

During World War II, Rowan served as a fighter pilot in the United States Army Air Forces. He flew Curtiss P-40N Warhawk 42-104949 currently recorded under N537BR and shot down two Japanese aircraft before he was downed and seriously wounded over New Guinea. His military decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Air Medal, and the Purple Heart.

Comedy team

Dan Rowan and Dick Martin as caricatured for NBC by Sam Berman

After his discharge, Rowan returned to California where he teamed up with Dick Martin and started a comedy night-club act. The team had appeared on television before but it was not until the success of a summer special in 1967 that they found fame on Laugh-In.

Personal life

In 1946, Rowan married the 1945 Miss America first-runner-up Phyllis J. Mathis. They had three children: Thomas Patrick, Mary Ann, and Christie Esther. He and Mathis were later divorced. In 1963, Rowan married Australian model Adriana Van Ballegooyen. They divorced eight years later. In 1974, he married model and TV spokeswoman Joanna Young, and remained married until his death. His daughter Mary was briefly married to Peter Lawford. His son Tom Rowan is an entertainment lawyer.

Later years and death

Rowan retired in the early 1980s and spent the remainder of his years between his residence in Florida and his barge in the canals of France. In his 40s he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, which led to his becoming insulin dependent. He died of lymphoma in 1987 in Siesta Key, Florida.

In 1986, a book of letters written between himself and author John D. MacDonald was published entitled A Friendship: The Letters of Dan Rowan and John D. MacDonald, 1967-1974.

Portrayals in film

Rowan was portrayed by Jonathan Whittaker in the 1995 HBO movie Sugartime as a purported rival of gangster Sam Giancana (John Turturro) for the love of Phyllis McGuire (Mary-Louise Parker) of the McGuire Sisters vocal trio. Turturro's character jealously asks the CIA to tap Rowan's phone to see if he is contacting McGuire as part of a deal to buy mob assistance in a plan to kill Fidel Castro at the CIA's behest.


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