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Q: What ever happened to the cast of "Hee Haw"?

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Author: 
Adam Thomlison / TV Media

That's an awfully big question, since "Hee Haw" had a recurring cast of dozens and operated what seemed like open-door taping sessions at Opryland USA for its comedic and musical friends.

But the original core of the series could probably be said to have been Buck Owens and Roy Clark, hosts and performers on the series from its debut in 1969 until Owens departed in 1986.

He left to focus on his musical career with his band, the Buckaroos. Indeed, it's hard to say which he was more famous for, and indeed he reportedly said that he left the show because he feared his success as a TV star would outstrip his success as a country singer. He needn't have worried, though, as he and his Buckaroos are country legends credited with pioneering the famous Bakersfield Sound, so named after his own hometown of Bakersfield, Calif.

Owens continued to perform after the series ended, usually at his own club, museum and restaurant, the Crystal Palace, in Bakersfield. He died in his bed on March 25, 2006, just a few hours after a performance.

Clark more or less retired from the screen after "Hee Haw" finally ended production in 1992. He, too, came to "Hee Haw" as an established musician, but had already moonlighted with a little acting as well. However, when the show ended he went back to his first love, maintaining a regular touring schedule that usually included an appearance with the Jones Family Band at their annual tribute concert for former "Hee Haw" star Grandpa Jones, who died in 1998.

In fact, "Hee Haw's" 1992 series finale was a sort of grand finale for most of its stars. While the musical ones -- such as Jim and Jon Hager and Lulu Roman -- would continue performing afterward, none seems to have pursued any kind of screen or comedy work. Sadly, but not surprisingly considering the length of the show's run, many died during its run or not long afterward, including leading stars Archie Campbell, who died in 1987, and comedian Minnie Pearl, who died in 1996.

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