Although Milton Berle gained the moniker "Mr. Television" because of his popularity, Ernie Kovacs earned the title. He was the first to recognize television as a new medium, not just a rehash of radio shows and old movies. He was a creator of new techniques plus the guy was just downright funny with his sometimes surrealistic humor. Two of my favorite routines were his Percy Dovetonsils skit, where he played a soused poet of drivel that appeared to be gay, and the notorious Nairobi Trio where three gorillas played music using the head of one as a drum. His wife, Edie Adams, added beauty and talent to the show. Her personality seemed a perfect fit for his. He did much experimentation. I vaguely recall one show, it may actually have been a television special, where he did the entire program in pantomime. Much of his humor was visual. He rightfully perceived that most viewers tuned in to television because they now could see what was happening having been accustomed to radio where the listeners had to use their imagination to picture what was happening.
One weakness which he couldn't do much about was that he didn't really look like a comedian. When he did his skits he donned appropriate attire that made him look funny. It was hard to recognize him, for instance, when he became Percy Dovetonsils with those glassy alluring eyes, the wine glass in his hand, and the lisping talk.
Kovacs was multi-talented. He composed much of the music used on the show. He was also a capable actor though he never really got a meaty role in the movies. His untimely death when his career was just taking off was a great loss for the entertainment world and for humanity. As Mel Brooks once said, "dying is easy...comedy, that's difficult."
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