Raised in Fresno, CA, yet born in Denver, CO, Phil Austin is best known as part of the Firesign Theatre comedy troupe. Attending Bowdoin, an Ivy League men's college in Maine, on a swimming scholarship, Austin performed in several productions, wrote for the college newspaper and literary journals, and hosted his own radio show on the college station. In the early '60s, Austin was directing a producing "plays by dead authors" and involving David Ossman, another actor, poet, and radio host in the L.A. area. Producing, writing, and performing on KPFK's Radio Free Oz, Austin soon joined with Ossman, Peter Bergman, and Phil Proctor to become Firesign Theatre. Of all the characters Austin played in the group, Nick Danger Private Eye probably remains his favorite, having grown from his interest in hard-boiled film noir detectives. He has reprised the same role several times, whether with the group or in solo radio spots for National Public Radio. In 1974, Austin released a solo comedy album, Roller Maidens from Outer Space, though the other three Firesign members performed on it. Austin also teamed up with Ossman to tour in 1975 as a comedy act. Austin continued to work steadily for years thereafter, writing and performing for television and radio. He died from an aneurysm in June 2015 at 74 years of age.
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