CHELSEA BROWN, OF ‘LAUGH-IN’ FAME
Chelsea Brown, an actress and dancer remembered as a cast member on “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” in the late 1960s and as Rosey Grier’s love interest in the memorably strange 1972 low-budget horror film “The Thing With Two Heads,” died on March 27 in Chicago. She was 74.
The actress Lee Purcell, a friend, said the cause was pneumonia.
Ms. Brown joined the frenetic sketch show “Laugh-In” in 1968, appearing with performers like Ruth Buzzi, Jo Ann Worley and Alan Sues and dancing in a bikini alongside a similarly clad Goldie Hawn.
George Schlatter, “Laugh-In’s” executive producer, said in an interview on Friday that he had met Ms. Brown when she auditioned for an NBC special called “Soul,” which starred black performers including Redd Foxx. He was so impressed with Ms. Brown, he said, that he cast her for the second season of “Laugh-In.”
“The fact that she was black was incidental,” he said. “The fact that she was cute and funny and sexy was what hit me right away.”
Ms. Brown’s race did sometimes come up in sketches, Mr. Schlatter said. He recalled one: “We had her playing chess with Arte Johnson, and he said: ‘Hey, Chelsea, here’s how it goes. White men move first.’ And she said, ‘It figures.’ ”
In that film, the head of an ailing bigot, played by Ray Milland, is grafted onto the body of a death-row inmate played by Mr. Grier, a former defensive lineman in the N.F.L. Car chases, gunfights and bickering ensue.
Mr. Grier and Mr. Milland eventually reach Ms. Brown. At first undaunted by Mr. Grier’s second head, she moves in for a kiss, then quickly withdraws and deadpans, “Honey, I know you don’t like to answer a lot of questions — but, but, how did that happen?”
Ms. Brown married the actor Vic Rooney in the mid-1990s. He died in 2002, and Ms. Brown moved back to Chicago. No immediate family members survive.