Comedian and writer Phil Austin, best known as a member of the surrealist comedy group Firesign Theater, passed away today at his home in Washington State. He was 74. Austin, who played detective Nick Danger in the radio noir parody The Further Adventures of Nick Danger, succumbed to various forms of cancer, according to fellow Firesign Phil Proctor.
Beverly Hills, California TO ALL OUR DEAR FRIENDS AND FIRESIGN FANS:
Nick Danger has left the office.
Our dear friend and Firesign Theatre partner for over 50 years succumbed to various forms of cancer early this morning at his home on Fox Island, Washington, with his wife Oona and their six beloved dogs at his side. It is a tremendous and unexpected loss, and we will miss him greatly; but in keeping with his wishes, there will be no public memorial.
Rest in Peace, Regnad Kcin.
Austin was born in Denver, Colorado grew up in Fresno, California, and attended Bowdoin College and UCLA. While working at KPFK radio in Los Angeles in 1966, he met Peter Bergman, David Ossman, and Philip Proctor. The began broadcasting a weekly radio program, Radio Free Oz, and as the Firesign Theater went on to record such classic albums as I Think We’re All Bozos On This Bus and How Can You Be In Two Places At Once When You’re Not Anywhere At All?
|Austin Powers. Phil Austin, a founding member of the Firesign Theatre satirical comedy troupe, died June 19, 2015, of cardiac arrest following a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 75. His most popular character was Nick Danger, a zany detective with the mysterious power of a third eye.
Born in Denver, Austin grew up in Fresno and studied drama at Fresno State and UCLA. He began performing in plays and in 1966 appeared with fellow actor Philip Proctor and documentary filmmaker David Ossman on Radio Free Oz, Peter Bergman’s late-night talk program on KPFK. The four began doing improvisational comedy.
After several more radio appearances, they became the Firesign Theatre and started performing at local clubs such as the Ash Grove and the Magic Mushroom. They landed a recording contract with Columbia and eventually released more than 20 albums for various labels. Eight of those albums appeared on Billboard’s Top 200 chart. The biggest wasI Think We’re All Bozos On This Bus, which reached #50 in 1971.
In 1967, Radio Free Oz moved to KRLA, where it aired on Sunday nights in 1967 and to KMET in 1968. The troupe starred in The Firesign Theatre Radio Hour on KPPC in 1969. They returned to KPFK in 1970 with a short-lived weekly comedy program titled Dear Friends. The best segments were released on an album. During the 1980 Presidential race, the troupe’s satirical political commentaries were heard on NPR. The Firesign Theatre also released four books and starred in 16 films. (Written by Steve Thompson, LARadio Rewind)