Sunday, January 13, 2013

Ernie Kovacs

Ernie Kovacs (January 23, 1919 – January 13, 1962) was an American comedian, actor, and writer.
Kovacs' uninhibited, often ad-libbed, and visually experimental comedic style came to influence numerous television comedy programs for years after his death in an automobile accident. Such iconic and diverse shows as Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, Saturday Night Live, The Uncle Floyd Show, Captain Kangaroo, Sesame Street, The Electric Company, and TV hosts such as David Letterman and Craig Ferguson have been influenced by Kovacs. Chevy Chase thanked him during his acceptance speech for his Emmy award for Saturday Night Live. Chase appeared in the 1982 documentary called Ernie Kovacs: Television's Original Genius, speaking again of the impact Kovacs had on his work.
On or off screen, Kovacs could be counted on for the unexpected, from having marmosets as pets to wrestling a jaguar on his live Philadelphia television show. When working at WABC (AM) as a morning-drive radio personality and doing a mid-morning television show for NBC, Kovacs disliked eating breakfast alone while his wife was sleeping in after her Broadway performances. His solution was to hire a taxi driver to come into their apartment with his own key and whose job was to make breakfast for them both, then take him to the WABC studios.
While Kovacs and his wife Edie Adams received Emmy nominations for best performances in a comedy series in 1957, his talent was not formally recognized until after his death. The 1962 Emmy for outstanding electronic camera work and the Directors' Guild award came a short time after his fatal accident. A quarter century later, he was inducted into the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame. Kovacs also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his work in television. In 1986, the Museum of Television & Radio (now the Paley Center for Media) presented an exhibit of Kovacs' work, called The Vision of Ernie Kovacs. The Pulitzer Prize winning television critic, William Henry III wrote for the museum's booklet:
Kovacs was more than another wide-eyed, self-ingratiating clown. He was television's first significant video artist. He was its first surrealist... its most daring and imaginative writer. He was... television's first and possibly only auteur. And he was a genius. In commercial terms, a genius is any entertainer... who finds a new way to make money. Kovacs never fit that description. Kovacs' genius lay in the realm of art. There, a genius is someone who causes an audience to look at the world in a new way.

“I drew two loads of wood today.  One for Arch Stuart and one for Perry Clark.  Sleighing is rather thim tonight.”

“Lettie and I went to church this morning but the weather was so stormy we did not go this evening.  Has stormed very hard all day and is storming tonight.”
Leesah

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