The old saying goes that laughter is the best medicine, and Hollywood has always had its share of capable “physicians” who have doled out laughter for decades.
Like the medical profession, many of these comedy doctors have particular specialties from the slapstick antics of Lucille Ball and Abbott and Costello to the likable outrageousness of the late Chris Farley and the laid-back cool vibe of Bill Cosby, Steve Allen and Johnny Carson.
There have always been the bad boys – and girls — of comedy. Roseanne Arnold — now known as Roseanne Barr — made people think with her ground-breaking sitcom about a blue-collar family, but many winced at her off-stage shenanigans such as her wacky marriage to Tom Arnold and her off-key rendition of the "Star-Spangled Banner" at a San Diego Padres game.
John Belushi was a multi-talented delight on “Saturday Night Live” and in films such as “National Lampoon’s Animal House,” but his genius was drowned by excess. Richard Pryor smashed barriers with his urban wit, but he also lived fast. For a while, his off-stage life was perfect fodder for his routines, but he eventually succumbed to his demons, famously setting himself on fire during a crack-fueled bender that left him running in flames from his San Fernando Valley home.
But the enduring popularity of many of the comics honored on the Walk of Fame is a testament to the famous adage: Always leave ‘em laughing.
— Greg Braxton, who has covered television and entertainment for the Los Angeles Times for more than a decade
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