Charlie Callas dies at 83

Comic was the voice of Pete's Dragon

American comedian Charlie Callas, who worked with Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin –– as well as opening several of Frank Sinatra’s Vegas shows – has died at the age of 86.

A professional drummer before becoming a stand-up, Brooklyn-born Callas was most famous for his comic stutter and sound effects. Patton Oswalt paid tribute to that talent this morning, tweeting: ‘Can't believe Charlie Callas is dead. RIP.’

Callas, who died in care centre in Las Vegas yesterday, provided the voice of dragon Elliot in Seventies family film Pete’s Dragon, while his other movie credits include Mel Brooks’ High Anxiety and Silent Movie. He also had a string of TV guest appearances to his name, but when a 2002 episode of The Simpsons, The Old Man And The Key portrayed him as a washed-up entertainer, it was Dan Castellaneta who provided his voice.

Callas was a chat-show regular – once appearing on the Des O’Connor Show –  and was a regular on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show in the Seventies until he upset the notoriously demanding host. Failing to get laughs from the studio audience, Callas deliberately gave Carson a shove – and he never appeared on the show again.

Here he is performing probably his most famous routine on the Jackie Gleason Show in the early Sixties:

Here is on the Tonight Show before he got dumped:

And here he is doing a plate-spinning routine:

Published: 28 Jan 2011

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