Ruth Buzzi and Ringo Starr in Laugh-In (1967)

Who could ever forget Gladys Ormphby, that feisty spinster, a favorite of Dan Rowan and Dick Martin’s “Laugh-In.”

“Gladys Ormphby never met a celebrity she didn’t feel compelled to smack senseless,” wrote Nick Tomas a few years ago, referring to the diminutive Omphby’s lethal pocketbook.  

It was a character that the amazingly talented Ruth Buzzi developed into not only a “Laugh-In” regular (along with other characters she played during the show’s five-year run from 1968 to 1973), but also on other shows, like Dean Martin’s Celebrity Roasts.

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As WUN celebrates National Women’s History Month, we’re honoring many women who have played significant roles in our area, from the sports field to politics, the stage and government, from the court room to the board room. They are focused, tenacious, smart, and courageous. And in today’s case, very funny.

Meet Ruth Buzzi, born in Westerly Hospital on July 24, 1936, and raised in nearby Connecticut. She attended Stonington High School, where she was a cheerleader, moving on at the age of 17 to the Pasadena Playhouse for the Performing Arts, where her classmates included Dustin Hoffman and Gene Hackman. 

During her remarkable career, she appeared on hundreds of television shows, on Broadway and worked alongside some of the giants in entertainment. Ruth Buzzi received five Emmy nominations and won a Golden Globe Award for best female performer (comedy or variety) in 1973.

She’s toured with Rudy Vallee, appeared with Dom DeLuise in a popular comedy routine, and appeared with performers like Debbie Reynolds, Joan Rivers, Carol Burnett, Barbara Streisand, and in the Broadway production of Sweet Charity with Gwen Verdon.

Many remember her on Sesame Street, where from 1993 to 1999, she played Ruthie, the owner of the Finders Keepers store, and in The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland. She also performed the voice of Suzie Kabloozie and her cat, Feff, in recurring Sesame Street inserts.

The 86-year-old Buzzi, according to several articles, lives on a 600-acre cattle and horse ranch, about 60 miles outside of Dallas, Texas with her husband, Kent Perkins. Today, according to reports, she and Kent are investors in a shopping center, ranch, farm, oil and gas wells, minerals, and other ventures in Texas. They also reportedly own a car collection, valued at $2.5 million. She and her husband support several charities in Texas.

This story was originally published on March 15, 2021. It has been updated.