John Regis, a comedian and entertainer who performed on talk shows, cruise ships and headlined the Playboy Club circuit, died on Aug. 19 in Los Angeles, magician Kerry Ross announced. He was 94.
A road comic in the 1960s and 1970s, Regis was a regular at San Francisco nightclubs Purple Onion and Hungry i, toured Canada in a comedy show with Lyle Wagoner, and opened for the likes of Bob Hope, Ray Charles, Rosemary Clooney , Stan Kenton, Woody Herman and Peter Marshall during his career.
He also appeared in the 1991 movie Joey takes a cab, starring Lionel Stander; on talk shows hosted by Steve Allen, Della Reese, David Frost, and Alan Thicke; and on stage in regional productions of Kiss me Kate, Under the Yum Yum tree, Sunday in New York and other plays.
Born John Ray and raised in the Ozarks, Regis produced “Tops in Blue” variety shows during his nine-year stint in the United States Air Force, helping to discover the likes of Jerry Van Dyke, Ronnie Schell, and Frank Gorshin.
After his discharge, he changed his name so as not to be confused with the singer Johnnie Ray. He then went on to demonstrate his musical talents and ability to perform mid-air splits at lounge shows in Las Vegas as the leader of John Regis and the Registers.
A memorial ceremony with military honors for Regis will be held at Los Angeles National Cemetery on October 17 at 2:30 p.m.