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Ernie Kovacs Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (2) | Spouse (2) | Trivia (17) | Personal Quotes (6) | Salary (1)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 23 January 1919Trenton, New Jersey, USA
Date of Death 13 January 1962Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA  (road accident)
Birth NameErnest Edward Kovacs
Height 6' 2" (1.88 m)

Mini Bio (2)

Author, actor, comedian, composer and producer. He was educated at the New York School of Theatre, and received the Sylvania Television Award. Joining the American Society of Composers and Publishers in 1957, he composed a number of songs and themes, a number of which were used in his famed television comedy sketches including "Mr. Question Man". His other popular-songs included "Ugly Duckling", "So Good to Me", "The Patty Cake", "The Irving Wong Song", and many more.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Hup234!

Hailed as a genius for his offbeat comedy style and changing much of the way comedy was played, Ernie Kovacs' life was cut short much too early. Born in Trenton, New Jersey, during his schooldays he hunted rabbits and pheasants by day and concocted mad potions with his chemistry set at night. Later in life he squared himself with the rabbits while working at a Trenton radio station in which he celebrated the opening of the New Jersey hunting season by giving a rabbit's eye view of what it's like to have 50,00 people, each 50 times your size, combing the landscape looking for you. In high school he sang in operettas, first as a tenor, and later as his voiced change to a baritone. This was in complete contrast to his early years in school where he played hookey often. As a result of a singing role in the "Pirates of Penzance", he was offered seven different scholarships to acting and singing institutions. After forming his own stock company, he hit the jackpot and received offers from directors, agents, and playwrights. In the middle of this, he did the smart thing, he went to work in a drug store. His mother did not want him to work there, but it was the only place he could get his cigars for free. Soon he and the store manager had words and very quickly Ernie was doing summer stock in Vermont. There he had a grueling pace of rehearsing afternoons, acting in the evening, and making futile attempts to fill inside straights till the early hours of the morning. He entered a hospital suffering from pneumonia and pleurisy. One doctor candidly told him, "Kovacs, stop whining and die like a man." He countered the doctor's advice by continuing to live. After recovering, Ernie worked for several years in radios stations of Trenton, New York, and Philadelphia which paid off in 1947 when he won the highly coveted H.P. Davis award while serving with station WTTM. Later he wrote a daily newspaper column in a Trenton newspaper and wrote mystery shows for radio. He turned out gags for nightclub comics, collaborated on some songs and trapped muskrats along the banks of the Delaware. He was arrested by a game warden but was acquitting when the muskrat refused to testify. He also did off-beat broadcasts from dirigibles, boats, trains, planes, and automobiles. Ernie went on to TV in Philadelphia where he established grand old institutions such as EEFMS, (The Early Eiball Fraternal Marching society), and the Kovacs gallery of sparkling personalities, (Pierre Ragout, the French storyteller, Skodny Silsky, the ace Hollywood reporter and others. In 1951, Ernie traveled to New York to NBC to do "The Ernie Kovacs Show".

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Bill Hafker thehuntzie@yahoo.com

Spouse (2)

Edie Adams (12 September 1954 - 13 January 1962) (his death) (1 child)
Bette Lee Wilcox (13 August 1945 - 1952) (divorced) (2 children)

Trivia (17)

Interred at Forest Lawn (Hollywood Hills), Los Angeles, California, USA.
Many of the kinescopes he made on the DuMont television network have been lost.
Created the first kaleidoscopic images on live television with a large metal can with two mirrors inside of it, taped to the lens of a television camera.
When he died, he owed the IRS several hundred thousand dollars in back taxes (he felt the tax system was unfair, and simply refused to pay it). His widow, Edie Adams, made television commercials and did other work to finally pay the back taxes, refusing help from her celebrity friends. She now owns all the rights to all of Ernie Kovacs' surviving television work.
It is suspected that his death in a car crash was caused by losing control of the steering as he was trying to light a cigar by striking a match against his shoe sole. He hated to use lighters, believing they ruined the taste of a cigar.
His father was a bootlegger during prohibition.
Married Edie Adams in Mexico City. The ceremony was presided over by former New York City mayor William O'Dwyer, and performed in Spanish, which neither Kovacs or Adams understood; O'Dwyer had to prompt each to say "Si" at the "I do" portion of the vows.
The car in which he was killed was a new 1962 Chevrolet Corvair.
Was chosen originally to play the character of Melville Crump in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), but he died in a one-car accident before principal shooting. In real life he was married to Edie Adams, who played Melville Crump's newlywed wife, Monica Crump, in the movie. The role of Melville Crump was finally played by Sid Caesar.
Daughter actress Mia Kovacs died in an auto accident on 8 May 1982. Daughter Kippie Kovacs died after a long bout of ill health on 28 July 2001.
He had three daughters: Betty (b. 1947) and Kippie (4 January 1949 - 28 Jul 2001) with first wife Bette Wilcox and Mia Kovacs (20 June 1959 - 8 May 1982) with second wife Edie Adams.
Kovacs got custody of his oldest two daughters after his divorce, but in 1953 their mother kidnapped them and they were not returned to him until 1955. After Kovacs died, his widow Edie Adams successfully fought their birth mother for custody.
His daughter Kippie was married to Burt Lancaster's son, screenwriter Bill Lancaster. She had one daughter, Keigh.
Ernie Kovacs died only 10 days before his 43rd birthday.
He was nicknamed "Mister Moustache" by other television celebrities.
He was nominated for a 2013 New Jersey Hall of Fame for Arts and Entertainment.

Personal Quotes (6)

It's appropriate that television is considered a medium, since it's rare if it's ever well done.
Some years ago I had a complete nervous breakdown, was dead broke and had to be put in a charity ward with 30 others. I was there 18 months and doctors didn't give me long to live. So now each day to me is a special dividend, so I live it to the hilt. - response to gossip columnist Hedda Hopper, who asked him why he was "trying to kill himself."
Nothing In Moderation" - The epitaph on his tombstone
There is currently a formula for success in the entertainment medium, that is -- beat it to death if it succeeds.
I don't have an audience for my shows. I don't believe in that. An audience with free tickets will laugh at the pause because they've been told, nudgingly,'You are now to laugh'. And they're trying to be nice - they're fond of the people in the show and they want to show their appreciation and show they're glad to be there, so they'll laugh.
[on the 'Ernie Kovacs Show'] This is not primarily a comedy show, this is more or less an experiment that I'm doing. There is a strong element of comedy that runs through it, but it is a unique comedy. My particular affinity for the medium is to make it an electronic one and to use it for it's own intrinsic value and approach. But I don't put it above - nor do I put it below - other forms of comedy. This happens to be mine.

Salary (1)

Operation Mad Ball (1957) $100,000

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