Jack Carter was 'one of the last great multi-talented performers'

Carter, who frequently appeared on variety shows and game shows of television's early era, died on June 28. He guest-starred on TV shows through the decades, all the way up to such contemporary programs as 'Parks and Recreation' and 'New Girl.'

Reed Saxon/AP
Comedian Jack Carter arrives at the memorial service for Bob Hope in Los Angeles in 2003.

Comedian and actor Jack Carter has reportedly died.

According to Deadline, Carter, who hosted NBC’s “The Jack Carter Show” and “Cavalcade of Stars” and acted in various stage shows, died on June 28. 

Carter was an extremely versatile personality who took on almost every medium in entertainment. In addition to his TV and stage work, he also appeared in various films, including the 1964 film “Viva Las Vegas” and the 1981 Mel Brooks movie “History of the World: Part 1” and directed such projects as a production of the play “A Thousand Clowns” and episodes of the CBS Lucille Ball series “Here’s Lucy.”

He also appeared on such game shows as “The $10,000 Pyramid” and “The Match Game” as well as guest-starring on various shows over the decades, from “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” and “The Dick Van Dyke Show” to “Desperate Housewives,” “Parks and Recreation,” and “New Girl." 

Deadline writer Jeremy Gerard wrote that “it was on television … that Carter was ubiquitous, whether in dramatic or comic roles, or hosting variety shows.” Yahoo! TV writer Ken Tucker also noted Carter’s range, calling him “one of the last of the great multi-talented performers,” while New York Times writer Dennis Hevesi mentioned his “versatility” and UPI writer Marilyn Malara wrote that “Carter's career branched out to all media outlets of the time.” 

In addition, Carter’s guest stints on game shows of the time and variety shows exposed him to even more audience members than would have seen him in guest-starring roles on sitcoms or TV dramas. The variety show format doesn’t really exist on TV anymore in prime-time (though one hosted by Neil Patrick Harris is coming this fall) and shows on which Carter appeared, like “The $10,000 Pyramid” and “The Match Game” relied on celebrity appearances and were the perfect venue for Carter’s quick comedic timing and one-liners. Gerard noted he was a “familiar face” on the game show programs, while Malara wrote that he was “best known for his work on several variety shows and musicals.”

Game shows aren’t normally a vehicle for celebrities anymore (you don’t see Channing Tatum popping up on “Jeopardy”) and the closest we have to variety shows is late-night shows, on which celebrities might drop by every so often if they’re promoting a movie or TV show, but not often more than that. The format of early television and popularity of such shows as game shows and variety programs allowed Carter to appear as frequently in the medium as he did.

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