29 May 2008 5:50 PM, PDT | IMDb News
Comedian Harvey Korman, a multiple-Emmy award winner best known for his work on "The Carol Burnett Show" and in comedies such as Blazing Saddles, died Thursday at the age of 81. According to a family statement, issued by UCLA Medical Center, Korman reportedly suffered complications related to the rupture of an abdominal aortic aneurysm he experienced four months ago.
Korman’s television career spanned back to the early ‘60s, including small parts on such classic series as "The Red Skelton Show" and "The Untouchables". It was not until he began to appear in skits on "The Danny Kaye Show" that he became known for his dry delivery and ease with playing the second banana. Korman joined that show’s cast in 1964 and remained with it until its cancellation in 1967, the same year he joined the skit comedy series that made him a household name, "The Carol Burnett Show."
On "Carol Burnett" the lanky Korman’s claim to fame was playing the perfect straight man to the outrageous slapstick comedy of the other actors in the cast, but mainly Burnett and fellow cast member Tim Conway. They, and the fourth member of the variety show's core ensemble, Vicki Lawrence, spoofed a number of iconic films and television series throughout the show’s run.
"We were an ensemble, and Carol had the most incredible attitude,” Korman said in a 2005 Variety interview. "I've never worked with a star of that magnitude who was willing to give so much away.''
Korman spent ten seasons on "Carol Burnett” before leaving to helm his own series, "The Harvey Korman Show", which was quickly canceled. But the comedy actor soon parlayed his familiarity into a number of recognizable roles on series such as "The Love Boat", "Roseanne" and "Mama’s Family". He also lent his voice to The Great Gazoo on "The Flintstones" in 1966, before finding fame on "Carol Burnett."
But it was his turn as Hedley Lamarr, a clumsy version of a mustache-twirling villain in Mel Brooks' Western satire Blazing Saddles, that film buffs may recall best. He also appeared in two other Brooks comedies, History of the World: Part I and High Anxiety, in addition to playing Professor Auguste Balls in Trail of the Pink Panther and Curse of the Pink Panther.
More recently Korman partnered with Conway for a live show, "Tim Conway and Harvey Korman: Together Again," which toured the country.
He is survived by his daughters Katherine and Laura, his wife Deborah Fritz, and two children from his previous marriage to Donna Ehlert, Maria and Christopher.
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