Hee Haw Star Gordie Tapp Dead at 94

Canadian-Born Actor Was Key Player Throughout the Show's Entire Run

A memorial service for long-running Hee Haw star Gordie Tapp will be held Dec. 30 in Burlington, Ontario. The Canadian-born comedian and storyteller died Sunday (Dec. 18) at the age of 94.

Born Gordon Robert Tapp on June 4, 1922 in London, Ontario, Tapp first made himself known as a jazz disc jockey at Hamilton radio station CHML. He was initially reluctant to switch musical formats when the station manager asked him to work a country music show, Main Street Jamboree. But he soon acquiesced and found himself adopting a rustic personality that would remain his comic calling card.

Tapp was a member of Hee Haw’s cast, along with co-hosts Roy Clark and Buck Owens, when it first went on air in 1968. Others in the cast were fellow comedians Minnie Pearl, Archie Campbell and Don Harron (also a Canadian actor). The show — with Tapp abiding as a fixture in it — ran until 1993.

(The prominent presence of Canadian cast members in Hee Haw may be attributed to the fact that the show’s creators, John Aylesworth and Frank Peppiatt, were also Canadians and, thus, familiar with the country’s large talent pool.)

With his hang-dog demeanor and rueful gaze, Tapp was a perfect comic foil on Hee Haw to gap-toothed, hair-curlered, graveled-voiced Roni Stoneman in their skits as the Naggers, the bickering husband-and-wife duo from trailer-park Hell.

In addition to his role as Lavern Nagger (Stoneman played Ida Lee Nagger), Tapp was one of the recurring doleful faces as well on the show’s “Gloom, Depair and Agony” lamentations.

Apart from acting and singing in the series, Tapp also served as a writer. According to International Movie Data Base, Tapp appeared on 90 Hee Haw episodes and helped write 78 of them.

Tapp was inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame in 1990..

Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to CMT.com.