Comedian Frank Fontaine, 58, who won national fame as the cheerful drunk "Crazy Guggenheim" on the old Jackie Gleason television show, died Friday in Spokane. Wash, after apparently suffering a heart attack.
He had just come off the stage after appearing at the international convention of the Fraternal Order of convention of the Fraternal Order of Bagles at the Spokane Opera House when he collapsed.
Mr. Fontaine, who had a history of heart problems and was hospitalized in 1970 and again in 1977, had accepted a $25,000 check from the FOE while on stage and had announced he would donate it to heart research.
He appeared on the Gleason show in the 1900s. With his turned-up hat, contorted face and slurred "hiya, [WORD ILLEGIBLE]." Mr. Fontaine was the drunken customer unloading all his woes on Gleason the bartender.
Mr. Fontaine also appeared frequently on the Jack Benny show and had his own radio show in the early 1960s. Later be appeared in Las Vegas nightclubs, where he performed as a singer as well as a comedian.
Born in Cambridge. Mass, he began his show business career at the age of 16 when he won a Major Bowes Amateur Hour competition by doing impressions of well-known actors. He also played in nightclubs in the Boston area.
During World War II, he served with the Army and participated in war bond, shows. After the war, he toured as a comedian with the Vaughn Monroe band and was on Ed Sullivan's "Toast of the Town" television show.
Mr. Fontaine went to California in 1948 and appeared in a number of movies, including "Here Comes the Groom," "Nancy Goes to Rio" and "The Model and the Marriage Broker."
But he returned to the Boston area later, again hitting the nightclub circuit and making guest television show appearances with Benny, Jerry Lewis, Jack Parr, Gary Moore and others.
At the time of his death, Mr. Fontaine reportedly was working on a children's show that he hoped would be seen coast to coast.
Mr. Fontaine, whose hometown was Winchester, Mass., was married and had 11 children.