Dan Rowan was orphaned at age 11. During World War II, Rowan served as a fighter pilot. He scored two kills against Japanese aircraft before he was shot down and seriously wounded over New Guinea. After his discharge, he returned to California where he teamed with Dick Martin and started a comedy nightclub act. The team had appeared on television before, but it was not until the success of a summer special in 1967 that they found fame on Laugh-In.