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Encyclopedia > Ernie Kovacs

Ernest Edward Kovacs (January 23, 1919January 13, 1962) was a creative and innovative entertainer in the early days of television. His on-air antics would influence later TV shows such as Laugh-In, the Uncle Floyd Show, Saturday Night Live and TV hosts like David Letterman. Image File history File links Broom_icon. ... Image File history File links (PD)) A nice 35mm slide colour shot by my Uncle Malachi taken of Ernie between takes on his hit 1958-62 series on the Dumont/ABC network. ... is the 23rd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1919 (MCMXIX) was a common year starting on Wednesday (link will display the full calendar). ... January 13 is the 13th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1962 (MCMLXII) was a common year starting on Monday (the link is to a full 1962 calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Rowan & Martins Laugh-In was a United States comedy television show broadcast from January 22, 1968 through 1973 over the NBC Network. ... Floyd Uncle Floyd Vivino (b. ... Saturday Night Live (SNL) is a weekly late night 90 minute American comedy-variety show based in New York City that has been broadcast live by NBC on Saturday nights since October 11, 1975. ... David Michael Letterman (born April 12, 1947, in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA) is an award-winning American comedian, late night talk show host, television producer, philanthropist, and IRL IndyCar Series car owner. ...


Born in Trenton, New Jersey, the Hungarian-American Kovacs became a pioneer of television comedy as a distinct medium. Earlier television comedians had mainly continued the comedy styles of vaudeville, film or radio. Location of Trenton inside of Mercer County Coordinates: Country United States State New Jersey County Mercer County Founded circa 1719 Government  - Mayor Douglas H. Palmer Area  - City  8. ... The word comedy has a classical meaning (comical theatre) and a popular one (the use of humor with an intent to provoke laughter in general). ... A comedian, or comic, is an entertainer who amuses an audience by making them laugh. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Film is a term that encompasses individual motion pictures, the field of film as an art form, and the motion picture industry. ...


His shows were innovative because of their ad-libbed routines; experimentation with video effects (including superimpositions, reverse polarity, and reverse scanning which flipped images upside down); the use of quick "blackouts" and running gags; abstraction and non-sequitur; and a willingness to break the "fourth wall" by allowing viewers to see activity beyond the set - including crew members and, on occasion, outside the studio itself. He would also talk to the off-camera crew, or introduce segments from the control room. Ad lib (and ad-lib) are terms derived from the Latin ad libitum, meaning at ones pleasure. Ad lib is the adjective or adverb; ad-lib is the verb or noun form. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Set construction is a process by which a set designer works in collaboration with the director of the production to create the set for a theatrical production. ... For the illustrated magazine, see Studio Magazine. ...

Contents

Visual Humor and Characters

The famous "tilted table" routine
The famous "tilted table" routine

Kovacs invented many camera tricks that are still common today. One of his most popular gags was a bit where Kovacs (as one of his characters, "Eugene") sat down at a table to eat his lunch. He took items out of his lunch box and one by one, each item mysteriously rolled down the table into a gentleman reading the newspaper at the other end. Kovacs then started to pour a glass of milk. The milk appeared to pour from the thermos in an unusual direction. The visual trick, which had not been seen on TV before, was created with a tilted table and a camera tilted to the same angle as the table. Image File history File links Ernie_milktable. ... Image File history File links Ernie_milktable. ... Large format camera lens. ...


Kovacs constantly sought new techniques and accomplished many visual tricks with primitive and improvised means to create effects that later would be done electronically. He once attached a kaleidoscope to the camera lens with cardboard and tape; the resulting abstract images, set to music, were very much ahead of their time. A toy kaleidoscope tube Pattern as seen through a kaleidoscope tube Pattern as seen through a kaleidoscope tube Pattern as seen through a kaleidoscope tube The kaleidoscope is a tube of mirrors containing, loose coloured beads or pebbles, or other small coloured objects. ...


Kovacs was rarely seen without a cigar, which he often incorporated as a prop. In one memorable segment, he was seen sitting in an easy chair, calmly reading a newspaper. After a short interval, he took the cigar out of his mouth and exhaled smoke. The unique feature of this otherwise ordinary sequence was that it took place entirely underwater. (The "smoke" was actually milk that Kovacs had filled his mouth with prior to submerging.) Four cigars of different brands (from top: H. Upmann, Montecristo, Macanudo, Romeo y Julieta) An airtight cigar storage tube and a double guillotine-style cutter Individual Woodtip Swisher Sweets Cigar A cigar is a tightly rolled bundle of dried and fermented tobacco, one end of which is ignited so that...


Other popular bits included such gems as an all-gorilla version of Swan Lake; a poker game set to Beethoven's Fifth Symphony; The Nairobi Trio, three derby-hatted apes miming mechanically to the tune "Solfeggio"; the Silent Show, in which a nerdy character interacts with the world accompanied solely by music and sound effects; parodies of typical TV commercials and movie genres; and various musical segments with everyday items (such as kitchen appliances or office equipment) moving in sync to music. He used everything from long, extended sketches and mood pieces to quick "blackout" gags lasting a few seconds. (One famous example was a bit involving a used-car salesman, a jalopy, and a breakaway floor -- a bit that cost $50,000 to produce and lasted 6 seconds on screen!) There were no wasted moments in a Kovacs show, with humor starting during the opening theme song and continuing even into the midst of the ending credits (which frequently incorporated bizarre fake credits and comments interspersed between the legitimate crew names and titles). Type species Troglodytes gorilla Savage, 1847 distribution of Gorilla Species Gorilla gorilla Gorilla beringei The gorilla, the largest of the living primates, is a ground-dwelling omnivore that inhabits the forests of Africa. ... Tamara Karsavina as Odile and Pierre Vladimirov as Prince Siegfried in the original Petipa/Ivanov production of Swan Lake, St. ... Ludwig van Beethoven Ludwig van Beethoven (baptized 17 December 1770; died 26 March 1827) was a German composer of classical music, who lived predominantly in Vienna, Austria. ... The Nairobi Trio The Nairobi Trio was a skit Ernie Kovacs performed several times for his TV shows. ... // Music is an art form consisting of sound and silence expressed through time. ... Jalopy may refer to: Lemon (automobile), a defective automobile Jalopy, a 1953 film starring The Bowery Boys Category: ...

Some of the many faces of Ernie Kovacs
Some of the many faces of Ernie Kovacs

Recurring characters created by Kovacs included fey and lisping poet Percy Dovetonsils; German disc jockey Wolfgang von Sauerbraten; horror show host Auntie Gruesome; bumbling magician Matzoh Heppelwhite; Miklos Molnar, the sardonic Hungarian host of a cooking show; Frenchman Pierre Ragout; the silent character Eugene (above); and Mr. Question Man, who would answer queries supposedly sent in by viewers. Image File history File links Kovacsmontage. ... Image File history File links Kovacsmontage. ... Percy Dovetonsils Percy Dovetonsils is a fictional character created and played by television comedian Ernie Kovacs. ...


Use of Music

Kovacs loved music and its possibilities as accompaniment for humor. His musical choices were certainly eclectic. His main theme song was called "Oriental Blues," by Jack Newlon, which borrows heavily from "Rialto Ripples Rag", a quirky piano number by George Gershwin. The German song "Die Moritat von Mackie Messer" from The Threepenny Opera (a song later anglicized to the well-known "Mack the Knife") frequently underscored series of blackout sketches. Robert Maxwell's "Solfeggio" became so associated with the infamous derby-hatted apes that it became better known simply as "The Song of the Nairobi Trio". An unusual treatment of "Sentimental Journey" by Mexican bandleader Juan García Esquivel accompanied video of an empty office in which various items (pencil sharpeners, water coolers, wall clocks) seem to come to life in rhythm to the music. The piece de resistance were tunes by Leona Anderson, such as "Rats in My Room". Leona was reportedly a kind and gentle soul, whose singing voice, in contrast, could be unfavorably compared to fingernails on a blackboard. Naturally, Kovacs used her songs at every opportunity. This article includes a list of works cited or a list of external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks in-text citations. ... Die Dreigroschenoper, original German poster from Berlin, 1928. ... Mack the Knife, originally Die Moritat von Mackie Messer, is a song composed by Kurt Weill with lyrics by Bertolt Brecht for their music drama Die Dreigroschenoper, or, as it is known in English, The Threepenny Opera. ... Robert Maxwell (born April 19, 1921) was a harpist and songwriter, who wrote the music for two well-known songs: Ebb Tide and Shangri-La. ... In music and sight singing solfege is a way of assigning syllables to degrees or steps of the diatonic scale. ... Sentimental Journey was the first solo album by former Beatle Ringo Starr. ... Juan García Esquivel (January 20, 1918 – January 3, 2002) often known as simply Esquivel!, was a Mexican band leader, pianist, and film composer. ...


Kovacs also incorporated classical music into his shows, often as background for dialogue-less sketches or abstract visual images and montages. Some selections used were the "Concerto for Orchestra" by Béla Bartók, music from the opera "The Love for Three Oranges" by Sergei Prokofiev, the finale of Igor Stravinsky's suite "The Firebird," and Richard Strauss' "Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks." The classical piece most often associated with Kovacs is Haydn's "String Quartet, Opus 3, Number 5" (the "Serenade," actually composed by Roman Hoffstetter[1]), which was used in his memorable Dutch Masters commercials. Béla Bartók in 1927 Béla Viktor János Bartók (March 25, 1881 – September 26, 1945) was a Hungarian composer, pianist and collector of Eastern European and Middle Eastern folk music. ... Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev (Russian: , Sergej Sergejevič Prokofijev; April 27 (April 151 O.S.), 1891–March 5, 1953) was a Russian and Soviet composer who mastered numerous musical genres and came to be admired as one of the greatest composers of the 20th century. ... Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky (Russian: Игорь Фёдорович Стравинский, Igor Fëdorovič Stravinskij) (June 17, 1882 – April 6, 1971) was a Russian composer, considered by many in both the West and his native land to be the most influential composer of 20th-century music. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... This article is about the German composer of tone-poems and operas. ... Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche (Till Eulenspiegels Merry Pranks), Op. ... Portrait by Thomas Hardy, 1792 Franz Joseph Haydn[1] (March 31, 1732 – May 31, 1809) was one of the most prominent composers of the Classical period, and is called by some the Father of the Symphony and Father of the String Quartet. A life-long resident of Austria, Haydn spent... Roman Hoffstetter (1742-1815) was a classical music composer and Benedictine Monk who also admired the famous composer Joseph Haydn almost to the point of imitation. ... Dutch Masters is a brand of cigar. ...


Kovacs served as host on a jazz LP record to benefit the American Cancer Society. Released in 1957 and entitled Listening to Jazz with Ernie Kovacs, the 15 minute recording features jazz luminaries Jimmy Yancey, Sidney Bechet, Bunk Johnson, Django Reinhardt, Duke Ellington, and Cootie Williams. The release was recorded for 1957 Cancer Crusade. Both the Library of Congress and the National Library of Canada have copies of this recording in their respective collections. This article needs additional references or sources for verification. ... An album or record album is a collection of related audio or music tracks distributed to the public. ... It has been suggested that Childrens gramophone records be merged into this article or section. ... The American Cancer Society (ACS) is a medical organization with a corporate attitude in the United States. ... James Edwards Jimmy Yancey (c. ... Sidney Bechet Sidney Bechet (May 14, 1897 – May 14, 1959) was a jazz saxophonist, clarinetist, and composer. ... Willie Gary Bunk Johnson ( 1879/1889–July 7, 1949) was a prominent early New Orleans jazz trumpet player in the early years of the 20th century who enjoyed a revived career in the 1940s. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington (April 29, 1899–May 24, 1974) was an American jazz composer, pianist, and band leader who has been one of the most influential figures in jazz, if not in all American music. ... Charles Melvin (Cootie) Williams (1910-1985) was an American jazz and rhythm and blues trumpeter. ... The Library of Congress is the de facto national library of the United States and the research arm of the United States Congress. ... Library and Archives Canada (in French: Bibliothèque et Archives Canada) is a cultural institution created by the Parliament of Canada in 2004 (S.C. 2004, c. ...


First marriage

Kovacs married his first wife, Bette Wilcox, on August 13, 1945. When the marriage ended, he fought for custody of their children, Bette and Kippie. The courts awarded Kovacs full custody of them, which was extremely unusual at the time (in fact, setting a legal precedent), since it was decided that his former wife was mentally unstable. Wilcox then kidnapped the children, taking them to Florida. After a long and expensive search that included many trips there, Kovacs regained custody. is the 225th day of the year (226th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1945 (MCMXLV) was a common year starting on Monday (link will display the full calendar). ...


Second marriage

Ernie and Edie in an early NBC show
Ernie and Edie in an early NBC show

Kovacs married actress and singer Edie Adams on September 12, 1954 in Mexico City. The ceremony was presided over by former New York City mayor William O'Dwyer, and performed in Spanish, which neither Kovacs nor Adams understood; O'Dwyer had to prompt each to say "Si" at the "I do" portion of the vows. Adams, who had a very white-bread middle-class upbringing in suburban New Jersey, was smitten by the quirkiness and eccentricities of the Hungarian Kovacs. They remained together until his death. (Adams later said about Kovacs, "He treated me like a little girl, and I loved it -- Women's Lib be damned!"). The couple had one daughter, Mia Susan Kovacs, in 1959. Ernie frequently incorporated his wife into sketches on his TV shows, including being a member of the Nairobi Trio. He always referred to her in a businesslike way, as "Edith Adams". She was always game for anything Ernie dreamed up for her to do, and was just as likely to take a pie in the face or a pratfall as she was to sing a serious and beautiful song or do a celebrity impersonation (she did an excellent Marilyn Monroe, among others). Image File history File links Ernieandedie. ... Image File history File links Ernieandedie. ... Kovacs or Kovács, or in its Slavic variant spelling Kovač or Kovac, is a common family name. ... Edie Adams (born Elizabeth Edith Enke) is an American singer and light comedienne who was born on April 16, 1927, in Kingston, Pennsylvania. ... is the 255th day of the year (256th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1954 (MCMLIV) was a common year (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Nickname: Motto: Ciudad en movimiento Location of Mexico City in central Mexico Coordinates: , Country Mexico Federal entity Federal District Boroughs The 16 delegaciones Founded c. ... New York, New York and NYC redirect here. ... ODwyer (left) visiting a cancer-ravaged Babe Ruth in 1948. ... Kovacs or Kovács, or in its Slavic variant spelling Kovač or Kovac, is a common family name. ... Look up Adams in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Physical comedy is comedic performance relying mostly on the use of the body to convey humor. ... Marilyn Monroe (born Norma Jeane Mortenson on June 1, 1926 – August 5, 1962), was a Golden Globe Award-winning American actress, singer, model and pop icon. ...


Writing, TV, and Movie Credits

Kovacs wrote a novel entitled, "ZOOMAR (A Sophisticated Novel About Love and TV)" in 1956, published by Doubleday in 1957, and based on the life and career of television pioneer Pat Weaver. While he worked on several other projects in book form, his only other published title was"How To Talk At Gin", published posthumously in 1962. During 1955-1958 he wrote for Mad Magazine, including the recurring "Strangely Believe It!" (a parody of Ripley's Believe It or Not! that also was featured on Kovacs' TV show) and "Gringo," a board game with ridiculously complicated rules that was renamed "Droongo" for the TV show. Kovacs contributed to the collection, Mad for keeps: a collection of the best from Mad magazine, writing the introduction. Crown Publishers published this volume in 1958. Year 1956 (MCMLVI) was a leap year starting on Sunday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1957 (MCMLVII) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link displays the 1957 Gregorian calendar). ... Sylvester Pat Weaver (December 21, 1908 - March 17, 2002) was the father of actress Sigourney Weaver. ... Year 1955 (MCMLV) was a common year starting on Saturday (link displays the 1955 Gregorian calendar). ... Year 1958 (MCMLVIII) was a common year starting on Wednesday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Harvey Kurtzmans cover for the first issue of the comic book Mad Mad is an American humor magazine founded by publisher William Gaines and editor Harvey Kurtzman in 1952. ... For the TV series, see Ripleys Believe It or Not (TV series). ... A board game is a game played with counters or pieces that are placed on, removed from, or moved across a board (a premarked surface, usually specific to that game). ...


The London based publisher Transworld Publishers published a 316 page novel T.V. Medium Rare, with Kovacs as its author, in 1961 as no. GN1023 in its Corgi Books series. This seems to be simply a British edition of ZOOMAR, since the cover design and illustration are identical to Bantam's ZOOMAR edition and the main character is the same. Kovacs or Kovács, or in its Slavic variant spelling Kovač or Kovac, is a common family name. ...


Some of his television programs included Three to Get Ready (local Philadelphia TV, 1950-1952), Time for Ernie in 1951, Ernie in Kovacsland in 1951, The Ernie Kovacs Show in 1952, The Tonight Show (as a 2-day per week substitute for Steve Allen) from 1956 to 1957, and the game show Take a Good Look from 1959 to 1961. He also did several TV specials, including the famous Silent Show in 1959, and a series of monthly half-hour specials for ABC in 1961-62. (These last shows, done on videotape and utilizing unprecedented editing and special effects techniques for the time, are said by many to be his best TV work.) Kovacs' comedic style was lost on many 1950s TV viewers, who were used to a steady diet of sitcoms and variety shows. (His friend Jack Lemmon said that no one ever understood his work because "he was always 15 years ahead of everyone else.") Consequently, while he always had a small, hard-core fan base who "got" what he was trying to do, he never had a long-lasting or highly-rated TV series. Time Out is a 1959 album by The Dave Brubeck Quartet, based upon the use of time signatures that were unusual for jazz (mainly waltz or double-waltz time, but also 9/8, and most famously 5/4). ... Year 1951 (MCMLI) was a common year starting on Monday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Comedy show first hosted by comedian Ernie Kovacs in Philadelphia during the early 50s, then shown on national televison, still hosted by Kovacs, during the rest of that decade. ... 1952 (MCMLII) was a Leap year starting on Tuesday (link will take you to calendar). ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Stephen Valentine Patrick William Allen (December 26, 1921 – October 30, 2000) was an American musician, comedian and writer instrumental in innovating the concept of the television talk show. ... Take A Good Look is the debut album of singer-songwriter, Alyson. ... Year 1959 (MCMLIX) was a common year starting on Thursday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1961 (MCMLXI) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... The American Broadcasting Company (ABC) operates television and radio networks in the United States and is also shown on basic cable in Canada. ... John Uhler Lemmon III (February 8, 1925 – June 27, 2001), better known as Jack Lemmon, was a two-time Academy Award-winning American actor. ...


In the last few years of his life, Kovacs found modest success as a character actor in Hollywood movies, often being typecast as a swarthy military officer in such films as Operation Mad Ball and Our Man in Havana. But he also garnered critical acclaim for roles such as the perennially inebriated writer in Bell, Book and Candle and as the cartoonishly evil head of a railroad company in It Happened to Jane. His own personal favorite was the offbeat Five Golden Hours (1961), in which he portrayed a larcenous professional mourner who meets his match in professional widow Cyd Charisse. Kovacs or Kovács, or in its Slavic variant spelling Kovač or Kovac, is a common family name. ... Our Man In Havana is a 1958 novel by Graham Greene. ... For the religious phrase, see Bell, book, and candle. ... It Happened to Jane is a 1959 romantic comedy film starring Doris Day, Jack Lemmon and Ernie Kovacs directed by Richard Quine and written by Norman Katkov and Max Wilk. ... Cyd Charisse Cyd Charisse is an American dancer and actress. ...


Shortly before his death, Kovacs had been chosen to appear as "Melville Crump" in Stanley Kramer's star-packed comedy It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, along with real-life spouse Edie Adams portraying his screen wife "Monica Crump". The role eventually went to comedian Sid Caesar. Kovacs or Kovács, or in its Slavic variant spelling Kovač or Kovac, is a common family name. ... Stanley Kramer (September 29, 1913 – February 19, 2001) was a Jewish-American film director and producer. ... Its a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World is an American motion picture directed by Stanley Kramer about a madcap pursuit of $350,000 of stolen cash by a diverse group of strangers. ... Edie Adams (born Elizabeth Edith Enke) is an American singer and light comedienne who was born on April 16, 1927, in Kingston, Pennsylvania. ... Sid Caesar (born Isaac Sidney Caesar on September 8, 1922) is an Emmy-winning comic actor and writer, best known as the leading man on the 1950s television sketch comedy series Your Show of Shows. ...


Lost and Surviving TV Work

Most of Kovacs' early shows, such as the local morning show he hosted in Philadelphia from 1950-52, do not survive as they were done live. Only a few short film clips of these shows still exist. Some, though not all of his later 1950s shows exist in the form of kinescopes. Videotapes of his 1960s ABC specials were preserved, but other videotaped shows such as his quirky game show "Take a Good Look" exist only in piecemeal fashion. After Kovacs' death, his widow Edie was horrified to find that the networks were starting to systematically erase and reuse the tapes of Ernie's shows. At great expense and effort, she managed to buy up the rights to the surviving footage and ensure that future generations would not forget her husband's work. The term kinescope originally referred to a type of early television picture tube. ... Videotape is a means of recording television pictures and accompanying sound onto magnetic tape as opposed to movie film. ... “Quiz show” redirects here. ...


Death

Kovacs died in a car accident on January 13, 1962, 10 days before his 53rd birthday, in Los Angeles. He was driving a Chevrolet Corvair Lakewood station wagon. During a rare Southern California rainstorm, he lost control of the car while making a fast turn and crashed into a power pole at the corner of Beverly Glen and Santa Monica Boulevards. Kovacs was thrown halfway out the passenger door and died almost instantly -- his chest and head taking fatal injuries. A photographer was on the scene moments later, and a morbid image of Kovacs' dead body appeared the next day on the front pages of newspapers across the United States. His close friend, actor Jack Lemmon, identified Kovacs' body at the county morgue when his wife proved unable to do so. At the time of his death, he owed the IRS several hundred thousand dollars in back taxes. Kovacs had always felt the tax system was unfair, and had simply refused to pay, resulting in the eventual garnishment of up to 90% of his wages. Edie Adams eventually paid off the taxes herself, refusing monetary help (in the form of a benefit concert) from their celebrity friends, though many of them rallied to help her with film and television work. Kovacs or Kovács, or in its Slavic variant spelling Kovač or Kovac, is a common family name. ... January 13 is the 13th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1962 (MCMLXII) was a common year starting on Monday (the link is to a full 1962 calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... d Los Angeles and L.A. redirect here. ... The Chevrolet Corvair remains one of General Motors most unusual creations. ... Kovacs or Kovács, or in its Slavic variant spelling Kovač or Kovac, is a common family name. ... Kovacs or Kovács, or in its Slavic variant spelling Kovač or Kovac, is a common family name. ... John Uhler Lemmon III (February 8, 1925 – June 27, 2001), better known as Jack Lemmon, was a two-time Academy Award-winning American actor. ... Kovacs or Kovács, or in its Slavic variant spelling Kovač or Kovac, is a common family name. ... Seal of the Internal Revenue Service Tax rates around the world Tax revenue as % of GDP Part of the Taxation series        “IRS” redirects here. ... Kovacs or Kovács, or in its Slavic variant spelling Kovač or Kovac, is a common family name. ... A garnishment is a means of collecting a judgment for money in which some third person (the garnishee) is ordered to pay money to the plaintiff which the garnishee owes to the defendant. ... Edie Adams (born Elizabeth Edith Enke) is an American singer and light comedienne who was born on April 16, 1927, in Kingston, Pennsylvania. ...


Kovacs is buried in Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles. His epitaph reads "Nothing in moderation-We all loved him". Kovacs or Kovács, or in its Slavic variant spelling Kovač or Kovac, is a common family name. ... Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills Cemetery is located at 6300 Forest Lawn Drive in Los Angeles, California, on the south edge of the San Fernando Valley by Burbank (and on the north side of the Santa Monica Mountains from Hollywood). ...


Kovacs' daughter with Adams, Mia, was killed in 1982--ironically also as a result of an automobile accident (off Mullholland Drive). His daughter Kippie died in 2001, after a lingering illness and an adult lifetime of poor health. She is buried next to her father and younger half sister. Ernie has one grandchild, Keigh, the daughter of Kippie and screenwriter Bill Lancaster (deceased), the son of actor Burt Lancaster. Kovacs or Kovács, or in its Slavic variant spelling Kovač or Kovac, is a common family name. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...


TV-Movie Bio and Retrospectives

In 1984, a TV-movie was made about Kovacs' life called Ernie Kovacs: Between the Laughter, which starred Jeff Goldblum as Kovacs. It focused on his private rather than his creative life, in particular his attempts to retrieve his kidnapped children from their mother. Kovacs' widow Edie Adams (who after Kovacs' death had remarried and divorced twice) appeared in a cameo in this production, playing Mae West--one of the impressions she performed on the Vegas stage with Kovacs years earlier. Year 1984 (MCMLXXXIV) was a leap year starting on Sunday (link displays the 1984 Gregorian calendar). ... Kovacs or Kovács, or in its Slavic variant spelling Kovač or Kovac, is a common family name. ... Jeffrey Lynn Goldblum (born October 22, 1952) is an Academy-Award nominated American actor. ... Kovacs or Kovács, or in its Slavic variant spelling Kovač or Kovac, is a common family name. ... Kovacs or Kovács, or in its Slavic variant spelling Kovač or Kovac, is a common family name. ... Edie Adams (born Elizabeth Edith Enke) is an American singer and light comedienne who was born on April 16, 1927, in Kingston, Pennsylvania. ... MAE-West is a major Internet peering point located in San Jose, California. ... Kovacs or Kovács, or in its Slavic variant spelling Kovač or Kovac, is a common family name. ...


The TV-Movie had been inspired by a resurgence of interest in Kovacs, due to the broadcast of edited compilations of some of his work (mostly his videotaped ABC specials) by PBS (produced by WTTW Chicago) under the title "The Best of Ernie Kovacs." This package of shows introduced a new generation of fans to his unique style of humor. (A 5-volume set of these broadcasts is still available on VHS and DVD.) Not to be confused with Public Broadcasting Services in Malta. ... WTTW (Channel 11) is one of three PBS member stations serving the Chicago, Illinois market; the others are WYCC and WYIN. WTTW began broadcasting on March 5, 1955 and is owned and operated by Window to the World Communications Inc. ... Nickname: Motto: “Urbs in Horto” (Latin: “City in a Garden”), “I Will” Location in the Chicago metro area and Illinois Coordinates: , Country United States State Illinois Counties Cook, DuPage Settled 1770s Incorporated March 4, 1837 Government  - Mayor Richard M. Daley (D) Area  - City  234. ...


Later, in the early 1990s, the cable channel known as The Comedy Channel (which later merged with a competing channel Ha! to become today's Comedy Central) broadcast a series of Ernie's shows under the generic title of "The Ernie Kovacs Show." This package included both the ABC specials and some of his 1950s shows from NBC. There are no broadcast, cable or satellite channels currently scheduling any of Kovacs' TV work. The Comedy Channel was a 1989 all-comedy network owned by Time Warner, which merged in 1991 with Viacoms HA! to become Comedy Central. ... This article should appear in one or more categories. ... Comedy Central is an American cable television and satellite television channel in the United States. ... Comedy show first hosted by comedian Ernie Kovacs in Philadelphia during the early 50s, then shown on national televison, still hosted by Kovacs, during the rest of that decade. ... The National Broadcasting Company (NBC) is an American television network headquartered in the GE Building in New York Citys Rockefeller Center. ... Kovacs or Kovács, or in its Slavic variant spelling Kovač or Kovac, is a common family name. ...


Trivia and Interesting Facts

  • Kovacs may have said, "Television: a medium, so-called because it is neither rare nor well done." (This quip has also been attributed to radio star Fred Allen.)
  • Kovacs was a frequent poker player with other entertainment friends such as Jack Lemmon, who called Kovacs and Walter Matthau two of the worst players he had ever known.
  • Ernie disliked working in front of a live audience, as was the case with the shows he did for NBC in the 1950s. He found the presence of an audience distracting, and those in the seats frequently did not understand some of the more elaborate visual gags and special effects that could only be appreciated by watching studio monitors instead of the stage.
  • His long battles with the IRS led Kovacs to tie up his money in a convoluted series of paper corporations, both in the U.S. and Canada. He would give them bizarre names, such as "The Bazooka Dooka Hicka Hocka Hookah Company" to thumb his nose at the Feds.
  • At the time of his death, one of Ernie's half-hour specials for ABC had been videotaped and edited, but not yet aired. It was broadcast on schedule with an added announcement at the beginning indicating that all connected with the show felt that Ernie would certainly have wanted it to air.
  • His tax woes also affected Kovacs' career, forcing him to take any offered work, no matter how ill-suited to his style of comedy, to pay off his debt. This included the ABC game show Take a Good Look, appearances on variety shows such as The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show, and some of his less memorable movie roles.
  • In his early days of live television in Philadelphia (early 1950s), Ernie frequently made use of accidents and happenstance, incorporating the unexpected into his shows. One cold winter morning, a homeless man wandered into the studio seeking shelter from the elements. Ernie allowed him to sleep on the studio floor, and he became a silent, snoozing "cast member" of that day's sketches, introduced by Ernie as "Sleeping Schwartz."
  • Although Kovacs was a long-time spokesman for Dutch Masters cigars (resulting in some of the most creative and humorous commercials of the time), in real life Ernie only smoked expensive Havana cigars, as many as 20 per day at a price of $2.00 each. (Quite expensive in 1950s dollars.)
  • Ernie was a night-owl and insomniac, surviving on no more than 3 or 4 hours sleep at night, and often much less than that (sometimes no sleep at all if a good poker game was in progress). He credited frequent steambaths followed by a cold swim underwater in a pool for invigorating him and keeping him going when his energy lagged.
Ernie as magician Matzoh Heppelwhite
Ernie as magician Matzoh Heppelwhite
  • One of the funniest practical jokes of the live TV era was played on Ernie in one of his NBC shows. Appearing as his inept magician character Matzoh Heppelwhite, he would frequently hit a gong, which was the signal for a sexy female assistant to bring out a bottle and shot glass for a quick snort. One evening, stagehands substituted real liquor for the iced tea normally used for the gag. The look on Ernie's face upon taking the first shot was priceless, but he pressed on with the sketch and was quite inebriated by the end of the show.
  • Those who view Laugh-In as a direct descendant of Ernie's comedic style are correct. Laugh-In producer George Schlatter was married to actress Jolene Brand, who had appeared in Kovacs' comic troupes over the years and had been a frequent participant in (or victim of) his pioneering bits.
Ernie and a young Bill Wendell
Ernie and a young Bill Wendell
  • In another link between TV generations, Kovacs' usual announcer (and sometimes sketch participant) was a young staffer named Bill Wendell. Decades later, Wendell spent many years as an announcer for David Letterman, whose show and style of humor were greatly influenced by Kovacs.
  • Kovacs shared hosting duties on The Tonight Show with Steve Allen in 1956-57, taking over the Monday and Tuesday editions of the show while Allen was busy with other projects. Ernie later publicly accused Allen of stealing material and characters from him, then performing them in only slightly obfuscated form.
  • Ernie appeared from time to time as a guest panelist on such popular game shows as What's My Line?, often eschewing a legitimate question for the sake of a laugh. An example would be when industrialist Henry J. Kaiser was the Mystery Guest. Previous questioning had established that the Mystery Guest had a car named after him, prompting Kovacs to ask, "This may seem like a long shot, sir, but by any chance are you Abraham Lincoln?" -- a reference to the Ford Motor Company's Lincoln brand of luxury automobile.
  • Ernie and Edie were the guest stars on the final installment of the one-hour I Love Lucy format, known in network airings as The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show and in syndication as The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour. Kovacs and Adams appeared in the episode titled "Lucy Meets the Moustache" taped on March 2 and aired on April 1, 1960. It was the last time Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz appeared together before the breakup of their marriage. According to Adams, divorce proceedings began on March 3, the day after the show's taping.
  • Kovacs' local TV show Three to Get Ready on Philadelphia's Channel 3 (1950-52) was groundbreaking -- the first regularly scheduled early morning (7-9 am) show in a major TV market. Prior to this, it was assumed that no one would watch TV at such an early hour. The success of Three to Get Ready proved the theory wrong and was one of the factors that led NBC to create The Today Show, which ironically led to the cancellation of Ernie's show in favor of the network offering.
  • In 1961 Kovacs and his co-director Joe Behar both won the Directors Guild of America award for the Ernie Kovacs Special based on an earlier 1957 version featuring his cult character "Eugene"

He has eyes like Venetian blinds and a tongue like an adder — radio/television critic John Crosby about humourist Fred Allen, portrayed here by caricaturist Al Hirschfeld. ... Walter Matthau (October 1, 1920 – July 1, 2000) was an Academy Award-winning American comedy actor best-known for his role as Oscar Madison in The Odd Couple and his frequent collaborations with fellow Odd Couple star Jack Lemmon. ... Ernest Jennings Ford (February 13, 1919 -October 17, 1991), better known by the stage name Tennessee Ernie Ford, was a pioneering U.S. recording artist and television host who enjoyed success in the country & western, pop, and gospel musical genres. ... Nickname: Motto: Philadelphia maneto - Let brotherly love continue Location in Pennsylvania Coordinates: , Country United States Commonwealth Pennsylvania County Philadelphia Founded October 27, 1682 Incorporated October 25, 1701 Government  - Mayor John F. Street (D) Area  - City 369. ... Four cigars of different brands (from top: H. Upmann, Montecristo, Macanudo, Romeo y Julieta) A cigar, airtight storage tube, and guillotine-style cutter A cigar is a tightly rolled bundle of dried and fermented tobacco, one end of which is ignited so that its smoke may be drawn into the... Image File history File links Matzoh. ... Image File history File links Matzoh. ... A practical joke or prank is a practice intended to be humorous (usually in action, not just in words) in which another person is fooled, annoyed, or embarrassed in what the perpetrator imagines to be a mild and light-hearted fashion. ... Rowan & Martins Laugh-In was a United States comedy television show broadcast from January 22, 1968 through 1973 over the NBC Network. ... Image File history File links Ernieandbill. ... Image File history File links Ernieandbill. ... Bill Wendell (born 22 March 1924 died 14 April 1999) was an NBC staff announcer. ... David Michael Letterman (born April 12, 1947, in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA) is an award-winning American comedian, late night talk show host, television producer, philanthropist, and IRL IndyCar Series car owner. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Steve Allen on the cover of Steve Allen on the Bible, Religion, and Morality Stephen Valentine Patrick William Allen (December 26, 1921 – October 30, 2000) was an American musician, comedian, and writer who was instrumental in innovating the concept of the television talk show. ... Whats My Line? was a weekly panel game show originally produced by Mark Goodson and Bill Todman for CBS television. ... Henry J. Kaiser perches above Hawaii Kai in April 1963, his suburban development in Honolulu. ... For other uses, see Abraham Lincoln (disambiguation). ... Ford Motor Company is an American multinational corporation and the worlds third largest automaker based on worldwide vehicle sales. ... Lincoln is an American luxury automobile brand, operated under the Ford Motor Company. ... I Love Lucy is a television situation comedy starring Lucille Ball, her orchestra leader husband Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance and William Frawley. ... The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour was a 1957-60 CBS television situation comedy. ... Lucille Désirée Ball (August 6, 1911 – April 26, 1989) was an iconic American actor, comedian and star of the landmark sitcom I Love Lucy, a four time Emmy Award winner (awarded 1953, 1956, 1967, 1968) and charter member of the Television Hall of Fame. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Today, commonly referred to as The Today Show to avoid ambiguity, is an American morning news and talk show airing weekday mornings on the NBC television network. ... Kovacs or Kovács, or in its Slavic variant spelling Kovač or Kovac, is a common family name. ... Director Guild of America building on Sunset Boulevard. ... Eugene is a common (masculine) first name that comes from the Greek eugenes , from eu- + -genes . The name shares a root with the word eugenics. ...

Biographies

There have been two main biographies written about Ernie Kovacs:


(1) The Ernie Kovacs Phile by David Walley, originally published in 1978 by Bolder Books and reprinted in 1987 by Fireside/Simon & Schuster (ISBN 0-918282-06-3). This trade paperback is a colorful reminiscence about Ernie, with 32 photographs. It is the paperback edition of the original hardcover edition, Nothing in Moderation by David Walley, which was published by Drake Publishers in 1975 (ISBN 0-87749-738-9).


(2) Kovacsland: A Biography of Ernie Kovacs by Diana Rico, published by Harcourt, Brace & Jovanovich in 1990 (ISBN 0-15-147294-7). This book, published as both a hardcover and trade paperback, is the definitive treatment of Kovacs' life and work.


Both titles are out of print, but a search of an online used bookseller may turn up copies of each. In addition, many public libraries and university libraries have copies of in their respective collections.


Ernie's widow Edie Adams also wrote an autobiography, entitled Sing a Pretty Song: The "Offbeat" Life of Edie Adams, Including the Ernie Kovacs Years, published by William Morrow in 1990 (ISBN 0-688-07341-7). This title is also out of print, but it should be readily available from used book sources or public and university libraries.


There is also a chapter devoted to Kovacs in the more recently published book Seriously Funny: The Rebel Comedians of the 1950s and 1960s by Gerald Nachman, published by Pantheon Books in 2004 (ISBN 0-375-41030-9).


In 1982, David Brian Barker wrote his master's thesis on Ernie Kovacs for his degree at the University of Texas, Austin. The thesis title is "Every Moment's a Gift" : Ernie Kovacs in Hollywood, 1957-1962. A copy is available for viewing at the University's library.


Kovacs' search for his kidnapped daughters is the primary focus of the 1984 made-for-television movie Ernie Kovacs: Between the Laughter. The film stars Jeff Goldblum as Ernie, Melody Anderson as Edie Adams, and Cloris Leachman as Ernie's mother. Jeffrey Lynn Goldblum (born October 22, 1952) is an Academy-Award nominated American actor. ... Melody Anderson is a Canadian-American acress. ... Cloris Leachman (born April 30, 1926) is an Academy Award, nine-time Emmy and Golden Globe winning American actress of stage, film and television. ...


Kovacs is also the subject of a play, The Importance of Being Ernie by multimedia artist Sean Sanczel.


External links

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
Ernie Kovacs

  Results from FactBites:
 
Ernie Kovacs - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (2860 words)
She was always game for anything Ernie dreamed up for her to do, and was just as likely to take a pie in the face or a pratfall as she was to sing a serious and beautiful song or do a celebrity impersonation (she did an excellent Marilyn Monroe, among others).
Kovacs had always felt the tax system was unfair, and had simply refused to pay, resulting in the eventual garnishment of up to 90% of his wages.
Ernie disliked working in front of a live audience, as was the case with the shows he did for NBC in the 1950's.
The Nairobi Trio - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (483 words)
The Nairobi Trio was a skit Ernie Kovacs performed several times for his TV shows.
(The identity of this ape varied, but among Kovacs' celebrity friends both Jack Lemmon and Frank Sinatra are known to have performed in the skit.) And seated at screen right at a piano was a female simian (often Kovacs' wife, Edie Adams), robotically thumping up and down on the keys.
It would be almost impossible to describe the action in words, but the basic schtick involves the gorilla with the mallets, who repeatedly uses the center gorilla's (Kovacs') head as a drum at the end of every phrase, punctuating a sharp "ba-da-BUM" bongo riff.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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