Edit
Jim Varney Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (2) | Trade Mark (2) | Trivia (22) | Personal Quotes (5)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 15 June 1949Lexington, Kentucky, USA
Date of Death 10 February 2000White House, Tennessee, USA  (lung cancer)
Birth NameJames Albert Varney Jr.
Height 6' 1" (1.85 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Jim Varney became interested in theater as a teenager, winning state titles in drama competitions while a student at Lafayette High School in Lexington, Kentucky. At age 15 he played Ebeneezer Scrooge in a local children's theater production of "A Christmas Carol", and by 17 was performing professionally in nightclubs and coffee houses. He chose Nashville rather than New York or Los Angeles as a place to pursue his acting career and, with advertising executive John R. Cherry III, turned "Ernest P. Worrell" into a cash cow, making commercials for clients ranging from soft drinks to food stores and, eventually, Disney. Even though Ernest's catchphrase "KnowhutImean?" became a national craze almost immediately, Jim worked in TV and film for more than a decade before his famous alter-ego hit the big screen in Ernest Goes to Camp (1987).

- IMDb Mini Biography By: HiLander-4

Spouse (2)

Jane Varney (1988 - 1991) (divorced)
Jacqueline Drew (15 June 1977 - 1983) (divorced)

Trade Mark (2)

Raspy voice.
Known for his character Ernest P. Worrell.

Trivia (22)

Included in a 1986 home video collection of Ernest commercials is a public service spot with Ernest trying to convince "Vern" to quit smoking, thus avoiding "The Big 'C'-Cancer. Chemotherapy City."
Was a heavy smoker and died of lung cancer.
Jim Varney died at about 4:45 am February 10, 2000 at his White House, Tennessee home.
Lived in Lexington, Kentucky while growing up, and graduated from Lafayette Senior High School with the class of 1968. He listed a former teacher, Thelma Beeler, as being one of the main contributing factors in his becoming an actor.
His final movie, "Ernest the Pirate" (2000) had nearly completed shooting at the time of his death. For that reason, it got canceled, and was never released on VHS, DVD, or as part of an "Ernest" box set on anything.
Known to fans as Ernest P. Worrell, his most famous character, who propelled him to the public eye. Ernest appeared in commercials "alongside" his off-camera friend Vern. Ernest would address the camera as if it were Vern.
Despite his persona as Ernest P. Worrell, he reportedly had a near genius I.Q. level. He was said to be occasionally exasperated with fans who met him and assumed he was exactly like the Worrell character he portrayed.
When he discovered he had lung cancer, he reportedly threw away his cigarettes and quit smoking cold turkey. Unfortunately, it was too late.
He used to do commercials for the Dodge dealership in Henderson, Kentucky, sitting in the Dodge Viper "high in the sky."
As his Ernest P. Worrell persona, he did advertisements for the Southern California auto mall Cerritos Auto Square. After his death, commercials now feature a CGI Ernest.
As Ernest, Jim Varney used to do Purity Dairy commercials which ran in Nashville, TN.
Among one of the companies he portrayed his beloved character, Earnest, was for the Kroger grocery store chain. These aired mainly in the marketing area of Tennessee, parts of Mississippi and Ohio where Kroger grocery store chains are predominate.
Between 1987 and 1990, Disney released four Ernest movies that generated a total of $100 million. Five more Ernest films were released independently, mainly for the video and television markets.
The character of Ernest was actually introduced in a commercial for Bowling Green, Kentucky's Beech Bend Raceway Park.
Along with Robin Williams, Varney was one of Los Angeles's Comedy Store's original alumni.
Standup comedy launched his TV career. His first national appearance came at age 25, when he embarked on the talk show circuit, that included The Merv Griffin Show (1962) and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (1962).
Studied Shakespeare at the Barter Theatre in Virginia and performed in a folk show during Opryland's first year of operation
When given the chance to have a lifelong dream fulfilled by such groups as the Make-A-Wish Foundation, several hundred terminally ill children have asked to meet Ernest. He never let them down.
Was very good friends with Robin Williams.
Remained good friends with his second wife Jane after their divorce and she became his spokesperson later in life.
Varney was very good friends with actor Blake Clark and Clark took over the role of "Slinky Dog" in Toy Story 3 (2010), after Varney's death. In an interview for "Toy Story 3", Clark described Varney as a very good and kind man and one of his bestest friends.
Youngest child and only son of James Albert Varney Sr (1910-1985) and Louise Varney (1913-1994). He has three older sisters.

Personal Quotes (5)

Life's just a bus stop to somewhere infinitely better.
[On making Ernest Scared Stupid] I loved it. As a kid, anything that gave me nightmares I had to watch.
I started to do a study on how not to do stand-up comedy. Yeah, it's lonely work. You die, you die alone. It's you, the light, and the audience. If you win, you win big. If you lose, you lose big time.
I like to sing. I write music. Country songs. You have to if you're in Nashville. It's part of the lease. You sign a lease that says, I will write country songs and pay my rent on time.
I'd like to do a piece of Shakespeare. Any upcoming Shakespeare film. Just a bit to say I did a classic.

See also

Other Works | Publicity Listings | Official Sites | Contact Info

Contribute to This Page