America's King of Comedy Has Died: Tim Conway (1933-2019)
If you wanted to enter into a debate about who is the greatest comedian of our generation a lot of names would undoubtedly be bantered about. Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy or even Richard Pryor could be argued for, however I would stand behind former McHale's Navy and Carol Burnett Show alum Tim Conway as the undisputed 'king of American comedy'. His timing, delivery, improv skills and physical humor were unequaled. I dare anyone to watch any of Tim's numerous sketches or zany character creations without bursting out in joyous laughter. It can't be done.
One of my fondest childhood memories involves my family gathering together to watch The Carol Burnett Show which featured many of Tim Conway's most memorable comedic moments involving such characters as Mr. Tudball (and his dingy secretary Mrs. Wiggins played by fellow comedy legend Carol Burnett) and 'The Old Man'.
Seeing that brought back wonderful memories.
It has been well documented that Tim always enjoyed veering off of the script in an attempt to make Harvey Korman (who always played the straight man) bust out laughing on screen. Probably the best example of this is the infamous sketch known as "The Dentist":
Pure comedic genius.
A business man (Harvey Korman) brings in his grandfather clock for a repair and is in a hurry to get back to work… unfortunately for him, The Oldest Man as the clock repairman (Tim Conway) does nothing with haste.
Here is Tim's bio ... as Tim remembered it anyway:
I was born and then I did The Carol Burnett Show for eleven years. What else is there to know? I have six Emmy’s. Big deal. I am also in The Comedy Hall of Fame, it was a natural since I spent alot of my time in grade school out in the hall. I went to Bowling Green State University for eleven years. A very slow lerner (I proof read my bio). I was in the army (ours) for two years and was in McHales Navy for three years. That is a total of five years of service. My ambition was to be a jockey, but at my weight, even the horses were asking me to get off. I have seven children, two grand children and a puppy. I have been married since 1984, a record for Hollywood. I do not have a serious thought in my head. - Tim Conway
Now here is Tim's bio from his website:
Tim Conway is best known for his role on The Carol Burnett Show, an 11-year stint that garnered him six Emmy Awards, a Golden Globe, major accolades from critics, and three generations of fans. Conway played the funny guy alongside Harvey Korman’s straight man, often cracking up Korman midway through scenes. The spontaneous break in character became a hallmark to watch for in every episode.
Conway’s often-improvised humor, razor-sharp timing and hilarious characters have made him one of the funniest and most authentic performers to grace the stage and studio in the last forty years. In 1989, Conway received his much deserved star on Hollywood’s “Walk of Fame.” In 2002, he and Korman were inducted into the Academy of Television Arts, & Sciences’ Hall of Fame. In 2005, the duo joined the rest of the Carol Burnett cast in receiving TV Land’s Legend Award.
All told, Conway’s extensive television career has spanned nearly four decades. Born in Willoughby, Ohio, Conway had a fast rise in show business, from a staff job at a Cleveland TV station to a regular gig on the Steven Allen Show. He went on to play Ensign Charles Parker on McHale’s Navy in the 1960’s, and eventually landed The Carol Burnett Show, first starring as a guest in 1967 and then coming a permanent fixture in 1975. In 2001, Conway and Korman starred in the 25th anniversary reunion special, The Carol Burnett: Show Stoppers. The program drew 30 million viewers and became the fourth-highest-rated TV show of the season. A testament to the show’s unique multigenerational appeal, the special attracted everyone from grandparents who saw the original episodes to teenagers now enjoying re-runs on TV Land.
Conway’s other television credits include Rango, Ace Crawford Private Eye, Tim Conway’s Funny America, three self-titled variety shows, and one sitcom. He’s appeared on every major variety show from The Hollywood Palace, Garry Moose, Glen Campbell and Sonny and Cher to Sammy Davis, Kraft Music Hall, The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and Jay Leno, sitcoms such as Married with Children, Cosby, Mad About You, Touched by an Angel, and Coach, for which he won an Emmy in 1997. He guest starred on Yes Dear, and kids may recognize him as the voice of Barnacle Boy on SpongeBob SquarePants. In 2003, Conway and Korman were featured performers on CBS’s 75th Anniversary Special. He received an Emmy for his appearance on 30 Rock in 2008.
Conway’s film career includes They Went That Way and That Way and The Long Shot, both of which he wrote, along with The Shaggy D.A., Speed II, and Dear God. But it was his work in a long line of family films – The World’s Greatest Athlete, The Apple Dumpling Gang, and The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again, Gus, The Billion Dollar Hobo, The Prize Fighter, and Private Eyes, that garnered him the most acclaim. Conway wrote the last three and was frequently paired with Don Knotts for a double dose of comedy high-jinks.
On stage, Conway played Felix in 182 performances of The Odd Couple. He also wrote and starred in Just for Laughs: A Day with Gates and Mills, which toured for 20 weeks and 130 performances.
In the home-video market, Conway has found a welcome residence for his vertically-challenged character, Dorf, with both Dorf on Golf, and Dorf Goes Fishing reaching platinum sales status. Conway also joined forces with Korman to produce the video Tim and Harvey in the Great Outdoors.
Conway is active member of several charities, including various drug abuse programs and the Spastic Children’s Foundation. He is the co-founder of the Don MacBeth Memorial Jockey Fund to aid injured and disabled jockeys.
I can't express how truly sad I am that Tim has passed. I have been a huge fan of his over the decades. I believe that we have lost a national treasure. We will miss you Mr. Tudball.
Look out Harvey, Tim is on his way.