How Foster Brooks Died of Heart Failure at 89

Foster Brooks was a famous American comedian and actor who made millions of people laugh with his hilarious portrayal of a lovable drunk. He appeared on many popular TV shows and nightclubs, and was a regular guest on The Dean Martin Show. But behind his comedic persona, he had a serious health condition that eventually claimed his life. Here is the story of how Foster Brooks died of heart failure at 89.

Early Life and Career

Foster Brooks was born in Louisville, Kentucky on May 11, 1912, to Edna and Pleasant M. Brooks. He had seven brothers. He dropped out of school after the sixth grade and did various jobs before starting a career in radio at the age of 21. He worked as a staff announcer, singer, newscaster, and disc jockey in several stations, notably WHAS in Louisville and WGR & WKBW in Buffalo. He gained fame for his reporting of the Ohio River flood of 1937, where he was featured on emergency broadcasts by WHAS and WSM from Nashville. He also performed with a country and western vocal group called the Hi-Hatters. In 1997, he was inducted into the Buffalo Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame (according to Wikipedia).

In 1952, he moved to the West Coast and launched a career as a stand-up comic and character actor. He appeared on TV comedies such as The Munsters, The Monkees, and Bewitched. He also delivered Christmas mail and phone books, managed an apartment building in North Hollywood, and worked as a security guard for the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team.

The Drunk Act

In 1969, he got his major break when singer Perry Como chose him to open for him at a Las Vegas hotel. Como had seen him perform his drunk act at a charity golf tournament, where he had impressed game show host Dennis James. The hotel owners were reluctant to hire Brooks because of his age and lack of fame, but Como insisted and they agreed. Brooks was an instant hit with his act, which involved slurring his words, stumbling on stage, and making witty remarks. He soon made his first appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, where he became a frequent guest.

Brooks also regularly appeared on The Dean Martin Show, where he often played a drunk pilot, doctor, or policeman. He received an Emmy Award nomination in 1974 for his performance on the show. He also appeared on many other TV shows and talk shows, such as The Lucy Show, The Flip Wilson Show, Laugh-In, Hollywood Squares, Match Game, and The Mike Douglas Show. He also acted in some movies, such as The Villain (1979) with Kirk Douglas and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Health Problems and Death

Despite his drunk act, Brooks was not a heavy drinker in real life. He only drank moderately and occasionally. However, he had a history of heart problems that ran in his family. His father had died of a heart attack at 52, and six of his brothers had also died of heart-related causes. Brooks himself had suffered two heart attacks in the past.

In 1996, he retired from show business due to his declining health. He spent his last years with his wife Teri at their home in Encino, Los Angeles. On December 20, 2001, he died of heart failure at the age of 89 (according to The Celebrity Deaths). He was survived by his wife, six children from two marriages, nine grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.


Foster Brooks was one of the most beloved comedians of his time. He made millions of people laugh with his unique and hilarious drunk act. He was admired by his peers and fans for his talent and kindness. He was also a generous philanthropist who supported many charities and causes.

He left behind a legacy of laughter and joy that will never be forgotten. As Dean Martin once said about him: “He’s the funniest man I ever met.”.

Doms Desk

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