On January 24, 2011, David Frye, best known as a comic satirist and President Nixon impressionist, passed away in Las Vegas at the age of 76.
David Frye began his comedy career while in school at The University of Miami, performing his bits at campus shows and clubs. After serving in the Army, he moved back home to New York and performed for free in nightclubs doing impersonations of entertainers like Kirk Douglas and Rodney Dangerfield. In the mid 1960s Frye introduced politics into his act and his popularity soared with his realistic impressions of Robert F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Nelson Rockefeller, Hubert H. Humphrey, and of course Richard Nixon. He had a knack for mimicking the minute intricacies and mannerisms of characters. For example, with Nixon Frye perfected the President’s vocal tones, darting eyes, surly lips and flaring brows. In one of his famous Watergate routines Frye would impersonate Nixon saying, “My administration has taken crime out of the streets and put it in the White House where I can keep an eye on it.” David Frye’s popularity and uncanny impersonations caught the attention of Ed Sullivan who first had the comedian on the show on December 11, 1966. The performance was so popular David Frye ended up making over 10 appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show from 1966 to when the show went off the air in 1971.
Here’s to a good friend of the show and an excellent comedian “who had an ear for people’s voices and an eye for their movements.”