Lyle Waggoner, foil on ‘The Carol Burnett Show,’ dies at 84

LOS ANGELES — Lyle Waggoner, who used his good looks to comic effect on ‘‘The Carol Burnett Show,’’ partnered with a superhero on ‘‘Wonder Woman,’’ and became the first centerfold for Playgirl magazine, died Tuesday. He was 84.

Mr. Waggoner, who was battling cancer, died at his Los Angeles-area home, a family statement said.

A household name in the 1970s, Mr. Waggoner went on to become a successful entrepreneur. He built a business that provides custom trailers that keep stars comfortable during production breaks. Playing on his surname, he called it Star Waggons.


In the mid-1960s, the Kansas-born Mr. Waggoner was appearing in run-of-the-mill movies and was a finalist to play “Batman” in the campy TV series that eventually starred Adam West. Then he was called to audition for Burnett’s variety show.

Get Fast Forward in your inbox:
A look at the news and events shaping the day ahead, delivered every weekday.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

The actress-comedian recalled that she wanted an announcer for the show who could do more than introduce the commercials. He had to also be good-looking, so she could do her ugly-duckling, romance-besotted character with him, and funny.

‘‘In walked Lyle Waggoner,’’ she recalled in her 2010 book, ‘‘This Time Together.’’ ‘‘Gorgeous? Yes. But so much more. He was incredibly funny. He had a sly, tongue-in-cheek delivery that told you he was putting himself on and not taking himself seriously.’’

As the series evolved, she said, he showed such great comic instincts that he got roles in sketches and became a full member of the cast. He stayed with the show from its beginning in 1967 to 1974 (it ran on CBS another four years.)

Along the way, he made history of sorts in 1973 when the fledgling Playgirl magazine chose him as his first centerfold, calling him ‘‘the stuff of which sexual fantasies are made, a 6-foot-4 hunk of gorgeous beefcake.’’ The Chicago Tribune studied his unclothed but discreet pose behind a desk, and reported he looked “slightly embarrassed at having it widely known that he sits at his desk in the nude.”


In 1976, he was picked to star in ‘‘Wonder Woman,’’ based on the venerable comic book heroine. Lynda Carter was Wonder Woman, who came from a lost island where she was one of a band of Amazon women with superpowers. Major Steve Trevor (Mr. Waggoner), crashed onto the island during World War II. Wonder Woman joined him on his return to the United States, where she mostly fought Nazi agents with her secret powers while posing as Steve’s secretary.

In 1977, ‘‘Wonder Woman’’ moved from ABC to CBS as ‘‘The New Adventures of Wonder Woman’’ and from the ‘40s to contemporary times, with Carter still the superhero and Mr. Waggoner as Steve Trevor Jr., his previous character’s son. The series ended in 1979 and he focused on his rental company, with acting jobs on the side.

Star Waggons were up to 40 feet long, cost as much as $100,000, and included leather easy chairs and satellite television. He eventually sold hundreds of them, customized to meet special requests. Martin Sheen, who played the president in ‘‘The West Wing,’’ and a real president, Bill Clinton, both used them; Clinton during a 1996 trip to California.