Jim Hager, 66, one half of the Hagers duo, died last Thursday after an apparent heart attack.
With his twin brother Jon, Jim Hager rose to national fame in 1969 when they joined the cast of a new variety show Hee Haw featuring country music and a satirical take on country living.
Hee Haw went on to become a top-rated syndicated program. And, when the Hager brothers left it in 1988, they were the recipients of more fan mail than any other cast members in the show's history, said Adam Dread, a family friend and attorney.
The men fans saw on TV - constantly joking and singing - were the same with people who knew and loved them, Dread said. They found humor in everyday life.
"Jim, really both of them were just always fooling around, always laughing, always saying something to make you laugh," Dread said. "Jim was so funny but also so sincere."
Jon Hager could not be reached for comment late Thursday. But friends of the Hager brothers said Jim's loss would be deeply felt.
"When you know someone as long as I knew him, you get to know the soul of the man," said LuLu Roman, a longtime Hee Haw cast member who has known the brothers for nearly 30 years. "And he was a good soul that will be dearly, dearly missed."
Hager was found collapsed in the parking lot of the Frothy Monkey coffeehouse, Dread said. He was pronounced dead at Vanderbilt University Medical Center around 6 p.m., said Bill Snyder, a Vanderbilt spokesman.