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October 4, 2015

A Match Game fan remembers Fred Travalena

by Joel Keller, posted Jun 29th 2009 3:06PM
Fred TravalenaThe sad news just keeps on coming: comedian and impressionist Fred Travalena passed away yesterday, losing a battle with cancer at the age of 66. For those of you who have no idea who I'm talking about (and, believe me, those numbers are legion), Travalena was big on the talk show and game show circuit in the '70s, doing impressions of everyone from Robert De Niro to George Burns to Jimmy Carter.

As a nerdly kid who rarely left the house after school, however, Travalena is best known to me as a panelist during the latter years of my favorite game show, Match Game. After the jump is the only MG-related clip I could find with Travalena, where he does an impression of De Niro on the short-lived Match Game Hollywood Squares Hour in the early '80s. (Warning: you need to turn the volume up to hear it).

The loopiness and loose nature of the show was a good place for him to showcase his impressions; heck, he did his Carter impression so many times that if you weren't looking, you'd think the president himself was sitting to Brett's right and writing "Boobs" on his card to get a laugh.

Travalena (and Rich Little, for that matter) fell off the pop culture radar at some point in the eighties. But he kept on working, appearing on the Late Show during Impressionist Week in 2006 (video is below):

As you can see from the clip, Travalena's older impressions (JFK, Carter, De Niro) were much better than his more recent ones (Clinton, George W. Bush, Rumsfeld). That's the problem with impressionists; their best impressions lose cultural impact and their newest ones aren't as good as the old ones. But gotta give them credit; at least they keep trying.

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Fred Travalena is one of those celebrities you haven't thought about in quite some time, but when you are reminded of them, you recall just how entertaining they were. He will be missed.

June 30 2009 at 9:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
David Holtz

Now THAT is funny!!!

June 29 2009 at 4:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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