Tim Conway, among many other accolades, was a very successful sketch
guest on the Carol Burnett Show, appearing more than any other guest
(12 times) in that variety show's first 3 years (1968 70). CBS
decided to build a similar variety show around Tim, and what a cast,
Art Metrano (the "da-da-DAH-da" Magic Guy fingers shaped in a zero,
bumped together, then connected . . . graduating to the Police Academy
Sally Struthers (before "All in the Family")
MacLean Stevenson (before M*A*S*H)
And among the writers, future writer for All in the Family and the Mary
Tyler Moore Show (and actress) Mary Kay Place.
Tim insisted on very little and often no rehearsal with the actual cast
before the weekly filming (a famous Dean Martin habit). He felt that it
stayed fresher that way. The truth, of course, was that Tim was far
more likely to catch cast members unaware and make them crack up in
front of a live audience.
I only remember one skit from the show in detail(I was 14 at the time):
a locker room, with a row of lockers facing the camera and a door in
the middle of that row, was filled with dejected uniformed football
players seated on the benches in front. The narrator for the skit
set-up said something to the effect of: many a football team has found
itself losing at half-time, on its way to certain defeat when the right
words of their coach could inspire and pull a victory out of disaster.
Just then, Coach Conway appears in the doorway, standing silently,
waiting for a team member to yell "ten-hut" which Art Metrano did,
and the team stood to its feet. But the team obviously was not prepared
to see Coach Conway dressed not as a football coach but as Hitler(!)
with the hair, mustache, uniform and swagger stick! Art Metrano was
the first to see Conway, and immediately burst into uncontrollably loud
belly laughter, followed by the rest of the cast/team. The team members
were literally doubled over laughing, and although Conway attempted
several times to finish his first Hitler-imitating sentence, the skit
simply devolved in to a laugh-fest. Since no one was able to regain
enough composure to continue, the skit went to commercial without
Sadly, the show was canceled after 4 months.
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