Bill Skiles, 79, the wacky half of the Skiles and Henderson comedy duo, who entertained audiences for five decades with his sound effects, mimicry, and improvised musical instruments, died Monday at home in St. Cloud, Fla.

The cause was kidney cancer, said his wife, Arlene.

Mr. Skiles and Pete Henderson began their collaboration in Orange County, Calif., where they grew up. Starting as an act at Disneyland in the late 1950s, they worked their way up to Las Vegas showrooms, national television, and touring as the opening act for the Carpenters and the New Christy Minstrels.

Most of their humor was improvised, with Henderson trying to tell a story amid Mr. Skiles' nutty distractions.

In 1960, they made their professional debut at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas. That launched a 50-year career that brought television appearances with Ed Sullivan, Dean Martin, Rowan and Martin, and Bob Hope. Later, they were frequently seen on shows hosted by Johnny Carson, Mike Douglas, and Merv Griffin. - Los Angeles Times