LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Lyle Waggoner, who used his good looks to comic effect on "The Carol Burnett Show," partnered with a superhero on "Wonder Woman" and was the first centerfold for Playgirl magazine, died Tuesday. He was 84.
Waggoner, who was battling cancer, died peacefully Tuesday at his Los Angeles-area home with his wife of 60 years, Sharon, at his side, according to a family statement.
A household name in the 1970s, Waggoner went on to become a successful entrepreneur. He built a behind-the-scenes business that provides custom trailers that keep stars comfortable during production breaks. Playing on his surname, he called it Star Waggons.
In the mid-1960s, the Kansas-born Waggoner was appearing in run-of-the-mill movies such as "Swamp Country" and "The Catalina Caper" and was a finalist to play “Batman” in the campy TV series that eventually starred Adam West. Then he was called to audition for Burnett's variety show.
The actress-comedian recalled that she wanted an announcer for the show who could do more than introduce the commercials. He had to also be good-looking, so she could do her ugly-duckling, romance-besotted character with him, and funny, so he could contribute laughs.
"In walked Lyle Waggoner," she recalled in her 2010 book, "This Time Together." "Gorgeous? Yes. But so much more. He was incredibly funny. He had a sly, tongue-in-cheek delivery that told you he was putting himself on and not taking himself seriously."
As the series evolved, she said, he showed such great comic instincts that he got roles in sketches and became a full member of the cast. He stayed with the show from its beginning in 1967 to 1974 (it ran on CBS another four years.)
Along the way, he made history of sorts in 1973 when the fledgling Playgirl magazine chose him as his first centerfold, calling him "the stuff of which sexual fantasies are made, a 6-foot-4 hunk of gorgeous beefcake." The Chicago Tribune studied his unclothed but discreet pose behind a desk, and reported he looked “slightly embarrassed at having it widely known that he sits at his desk in the nude.”