Gordie Tapp, Cousin Clem on ‘Hee Haw’, Dead at 94
Gordie Tapp, a Canadian comedian and musician known for playing Cousin Clem on Hee Haw, has died. He was 94 years old.
CTV News reports that Tapp passed away in Burlington, Ontario, Canada, on Sunday (Dec. 18) due to complications from pneumonia.
Born in London, Ontario, in 1922, Tapp began his career in radio, then moved into TV. During the 1950s, he helped found the Hamilton-based Main Street Jamboree radio and TV program, and in 1956, he began hosting Country Hoedown, a Hee Haw-like musical variety show. Country Hoedown ran until 1965, after which Tapp headed to Nashville.
Hee Haw aired on CBS from 1969 to 1971, followed by 20 years in local syndication. Tapp was both a writer and performer on the show.
"A lot of people in this business sound like your best friend, and they're really nice people, but it's just a persona," Bob Bratina, who worked with Tapp in radio, tells the CBC. "[But] he was a genuinely fun loving, happy guy. He never put on any airs that he was something special. He was always a down-to-earth guy."
Tapp became a member of the Order of Canada in 1998, in recognition of his work with humanitarian organizations and medical charities; he was also a member of the Canadian Country Music Association Hall of Fame. The CBC reports that, although he and his wife Helen were living in a retirement home, Tapp continued to perform until about a month before his death. In addition to his wife, Tapp is survived by his children, Kate, Jeff and Barbara.
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