Brooks regularly appeared on The Dean Martin Show television program in the 1970s (for which he garnered an Emmy Award nomination in 1974) as well as many situation comedies, talk shows, and a few films.
His signature routine was the basis of a hit comedy album titled Foster Brooks, The Lovable Lush (later retitled Los Angeles Earthquake), released in the early 1970s. As his “Lovable Lush” character, Brooks usually portrayed a conventioneer who had had a few too many drinks — not falling-down drunk, but inebriated enough to mix up his words and burp to comedic delight. Brooks is most affectionately remembered for his appearances on The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast during the 1970s, where he roasted other comedians, such as Don Rickles, Johnny Carson and Lucille Ball,or serious personalities such as author Truman Capote or consumer activist Ralph Nader.
Brooks drew upon his own battles with alcohol for his act. During his period of greatest fame, Brooks rarely drank. Of giving up drinking to win a bet in 1964, Brooks said, “A fellow made me a $10 bet I couldn’t quit, and I haven’t had a drink since. At the time I needed the $10.”
He would occasionally make cameo appearances in which his character was perfectly sober, such as his appearance in a 1968 episode of Adam-12 playing a strait-laced citizen who tries to get out of a parking ticket by dropping the name of an officer senior to the main characters. He also played the character Harry Sachs in a 1969 episode of Adam-12 in which he performed as a highly intoxicated man standing in the middle of a street, waving his suit jacket at oncoming traffic, as if he were a bullfighter. In a later Adam-12 episode, he plays a stoned man, stopped for erratic driving, who tries to hide the burning marijuana “joint” in his suit’s front pocket. In a more serious Adam-12 appearance, he portrayed a drunken driver who killed another driver in an accident on Christmas Eve.
On the comedy series Green Acres in the 1969 episode “Economy Flight to Washington”, Brooks’ boozy, bobble-headed character meets and befriends the pig Arnold Ziffel in a hotel bar. In the scene, ostensibly through the haze of alcohol, Brooks mistakes the anthropomorphic pig for a US Air Force lieutenant, since the animal is sitting on a barstool and is wearing a white leather aviator’s cap, goggles, and a red scarf. Brooks acted again on Green Acres in 1969, this time giving a “sober” performance as Charlie Williams, a chemist, in the episode “The Milk Maker.” The following year he returned to his whiskey-soaked persona on the television western The High Chaparral. Brooks asked Dean Martin to join his group “Alcoholics Unanimous”, a play on Alcoholics Anonymous. He boasted he and Martin were charter members of the DUI (Driving Under the Influence) Hall of Fame.
In 1979, Brooks appeared in the film The Villain as a bank clerk.
Public sensibilities had changed regarding alcoholics and public drunkenness by the 1980s, so Brooks moved away from his drunken character. In 1983, Brooks appeared in the film Cannonball Run II with comedians Louis Nye and Sid Caesar as fishermen in a rowboat. He had a recurring role as Mr. Sternhagen, Mindy’s boss on Mork & Mindy. His name was a moniker on a Louisville celebrity golf tournament benefiting Kosair Charities. Brooks was a Shriner and member of the Al Malaikah Shriners, Los Angeles. He also made occasional guest appearances on TV shows in which he would demonstrate his singing voice.
Brooks’ last performance was at a celebrity roast in Las Vegas for Zsa Zsa Gabor.
“Funniest Foster Brooks bit on Dean Martin Roast of Don Rickles”