Chelsea Brown, a dancer and actress who was on the NBC sketch-comedy show “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” and later found her biggest success performing in Australia, has died in Chicago, her hometown.
Her death Wednesday was confirmed by George Schlatter, who was an executive producer of “Laugh-In,” the groundbreaking series that gave an early-career boost to Goldie Hawn and Lily Tomlin.
She was variously reported as 69 and 74 and, according to a death notice, died of complications from dementia.
Chelsea Brown was her stage name. She was born Lois Brown.
She appeared as a dancer in the movies “Head” — playing an uncredited belly dancer in the 1968 vehicle for The Monkees — and “Sweet Charity” early in her career.
On “Laugh-In,” she did comedy sketches and, like Hawn, was frequently seen as a go-go dancer, performing in a bikini with her body painted with graffiti.
“She was a great dancer, and she was adorable,” said Schlatter, who hired her for “Laugh-In.”
As a regular on the series for one season, 1968-69, the iconic series’ second year, Ms. Brown was one of few African-American performers on network television at the time.
“The fact that she was black was incidental,” Schlatter told The New York Times. “The fact that she was cute and funny and sexy was what hit me right away.”
After that, she had guest-starring appearances on various episodic TV dramas and comedies — including “The Flying Nun,” “Love, American Style,” “Marcus Welby, M.D.,” “Mission: Impossible,” That’s My Mama” and “Ironside” — and also co-starred with former football star Rosie Grier in the 1972 horror movie “The Thing With Two Heads,” then moved in the 1970s to Sydney, Australia.
She starred on the Australian hit TV soap opera “E Street,” where she met co-star Victor Rooney, whom she married. She also appeared in the 1997 Australian movie “Welcome to Woop Woop” and the TV series “Grass Roots.”
She moved back to Chicago in 2002 after Rooney’s death, according to the Daily Mail Australia and The New York Times, and had a role in the 2015 Australian TV miniseries “Peter Allen: Not The Boy Next Door.”