This man is the best impersonator on the planet in my lifetime but he is probably unknown to most people under 35. Dropping out of the limelight in the Eighties probably contributed to it. Lately, impersonation comedy has be relegated to a lesser status. Think about it. Have you really seen any on Comedy Central lately? Most of these acts are either in Vegas (Danny Gans namely) where they’re seen as hacks or they do voices for cartoons (Maurice LaMarche, Harry Shearer). I don’t have cable/satellite television anymore so if I’m wrong, please let me know, I’m curious to see who may earn the title from him.
When I was a little kid, Rich Little had his own sketch-comedy show on NBC which my parents enjoyed watching. Skewering Nixon (or in my house, Tricky Dick) was a frequent routine. Little never let up on mocking the former president, even after the resignation. Then he created a favorite traditional show on the young HBO network, his version of A Christmas Carol. All the principal characters were replaced by celebrities (living and deceased) he imitated. He tried to duplicate its success with a version of Robin Hood but it didn’t go over well since I never saw it repeated like his holiday special.
Despite his semi-retired status, Rich did appear as himself imitating Howard Cossell for the new Futurama DVD and he still makes the rounds on talk shows. The biggest piece of flattery he received in his career was potraying Johnny Carson for the movie Late Shift.