LOS ANGELES - Dick Martin, the zany half of the comedy team whose

Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In

took television by storm in the 1960s, making stars of Goldie Hawn and Lily Tomlin and creating such national catch-phrases as "Sock it to me!" has died. He was 86.

Martin, who became one of TV's busiest directors after splitting with Rowan in the late 1970s, died last night of respiratory complications at a hospital in Santa Monica, spokesman Barry Greenberg said.


, which debuted in January 1968, was unlike any comedy-variety show before it. Rather than tightly scripted song-and-dance segments, it offered a steady, almost stream-of-consciousness run of non-sequitur jokes, political satire and madhouse antics from talented young actors and comedians including Ruth Buzzi, Arte Johnson, Henry Gibson, Jo Anne Worley and announcer Gary Owens.

Presiding were Rowan and Martin, nightclub comics whose banter put a distinct spin on the show.

Like all straight men, Rowan was the voice of reason, striving to correct his partner's absurdities. Martin, meanwhile, was full of bogus, often risque theories about life, which he appeared to hold with unwavering certainty.