Published Oct. 19, 2007

Joey Bishop, the deadpan comedian who was ABC's answer to NBC's late-night talk show king Johnny Carson in the late 1960s and was the last surviving member of Frank Sinatra's legendary Rat Pack, died Wednesday (Oct. 17, 2007). He was 89.

Mr. Bishop had been in failing health for some time and died at his home in Newport Beach, according to his longtime friend, Warren Cowan.

An adept ad-libber with a dry, underplayed sense of humor, Mr. Bishop achieved his greatest fame in the 1960s. He was master of ceremonies for President John F. Kennedy's inaugural gala and joined Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Peter Lawford for the Rat Pack's shows at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas.

"He wrote almost all the jokes they all did," fellow comedian Sandy Hackett said Thursday from Las Vegas, where he is portraying Bishop in the long-running stage revue The Rat Pack is Back.

The Rat Pack, who worked together whenever they were free of individual commitments, also appeared in the films Ocean's Eleven and Sergeants 3.

Recent years have brought renewed attention to the Rat Pack. The group was depicted in a popular 1998 HBO movie, and Ocean's Eleven was remade in 2003 with George Clooney and Brad Pitt in the lead roles.

"They were the ultimate in cool," said film historian Leonard Maltin.

Time magazine referred to Mr. Bishop as that swinging, fun-loving group's "top banana." Jack Benny called him "one of the funniest men I've ever seen."

Danny Thomas was so impressed that he had a situation comedy built around Mr. Bishop. He became known in the late '50s for his late-night appearances on The Jack Paar Show. Paar once likened Mr. Bishop's dour demeanor to that of "an untipped waiter."

Mr. Bishop frequently substituted as host for Paar and later for Carson. In 1967, ABC signed him to host his own 90-minute late-night talk-fest. The Joey Bishop Show, with Regis Philbin as Bishop's announcer-sidekick, ran for 21/2 years.

Born Joseph Abraham Gottlieb in the Bronx, N.Y., Mr. Bishop was the youngest of five children of Jewish immigrant parents from central Europe.

Mr. Bishop, whose wife, Sylvia, died of cancer in 1999, is survived by his son, Larry; two grandchildren; and companion Nora Garabotti.