Ernie Kovacs

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I'm interested in this guy. His shows sound quite jolly. Any opinions here on him?

Chriddof (Chriddof), Sunday, 21 December 2003 17:08 (sixteen years ago) link

No but I'm going to look out for him now, his moustache is most excellent

cuspidorian (cuspidorian), Monday, 22 December 2003 01:20 (sixteen years ago) link

Iconoclasticism rocks.

Andrew (enneff), Monday, 22 December 2003 01:22 (sixteen years ago) link

those shows are wonderful if you can find them on video. beautiful, creepy, weird, funny, all those things. and all the superlatives thrown at him are true. he WAS ahead of his time. nobody was doing what he was doing with optical effects and sound and very few people did anything like it after him. ( my father worked on the set of some of those shows of his and he has lots of good stories about ernie.) he was a really good writer too!

scott seward (scott seward), Monday, 22 December 2003 01:24 (sixteen years ago) link

Wow, he seems really interesting. I'm going to try and hunt down some recordings of his shows.

Andrew (enneff), Monday, 22 December 2003 01:25 (sixteen years ago) link

Okay, just fuck off now please.

@d@ml (nordicskilla), Monday, 22 December 2003 01:48 (sixteen years ago) link

uh, adam? meds?

he was one of the first (THE first?) to get that TV was really low-res compared w/film so that optical effects were much easier (and cheaper) to pull off, though he still bankrupted himself after only a few shows. he would have thrived in this taped era, where you could hone things to perfection and do more w/post-production tricks, but there was something important about it all being LIVE, it was all a magic act happening before your eyes, nothing up the sleeves so to speak

Tracer Hand (tracerhand), Monday, 22 December 2003 06:26 (sixteen years ago) link


Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 22 December 2003 06:27 (sixteen years ago) link

two years pass...
TV genius, obv. Saw the shows revived on PBS as a kid, hooked immediately.

Also creepily amusing as a Cuban police captain/torturer in Our Man in Havana.

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Monday, 2 October 2006 15:37 (thirteen years ago) link

real savage-like (Jody Beth Rosen), Monday, 2 October 2006 15:49 (thirteen years ago) link

Morbius, otm- about tv show and Our Man In Havana.

Ruud Comes to Haarvest (Ken L), Monday, 2 October 2006 16:11 (thirteen years ago) link

I'm kinda surprised all those people above hadn't seen it, but I guess I caught it in reruns too (although I want to say it was Nick at Nite) when I was a kid. Totally classic.

Casuistry (Chris P), Monday, 2 October 2006 21:16 (thirteen years ago) link

I borrowed a VHS of him from the library on a lark. My 7-yr-old brother and I watched it together and we both got a kick out of it. Somehow it was the first time he'd seen a typewriter, so he was pretty fascinated by it as a time capsulr. But we both thought it was funny as fuck and it's lead to a lot of injokes we share together 5 years on. Classic.

Abbott (Abbott), Monday, 2 October 2006 21:19 (thirteen years ago) link

xpost they used to play it on the old Ha! Channel before it became Comedy Central iirc(along with the Abbott & Costello TV show((best thing ever)) and truncated versions of the old Steve Allen show, more great stuff there). Ernie Kovacs was the shit. Funny and trippy and I loved his blase manner as ringmaster. I remember being wtf at the Nairobi Trio bits but other than that it was great.

tremendoid (tremendoid), Monday, 2 October 2006 22:16 (thirteen years ago) link

Don't forget Miklos Molnar!

Rickey Wright (Rrrickey), Monday, 2 October 2006 22:31 (thirteen years ago) link

Percy Dovetonsils is the funniest pre-gay lib swish in American comedy.

(read with lisp)

Ode to a Bookworm

Oh hail to thee thou streamlined fellow,
You go through my books like
A fork goes through Jell-O.

When I open a book and
Look back at the binding,
Little crumbs from your lunch
Always I'm finding.

I saw you first, so trim and so spruce,
As you gummed a few pages out of my Mother Goose.

You browsed though my shelves, In your eye was a twinkle,
As you ate the first chapter of old Rip Van Winkle.

The next time I saw you I was so miffed.
You ate off the ending of inventor Tom Swift.

You made little bites so round and so tidy,
All over the back of my copy of Heidi.

And then you reached manhood, I recall with some pain
When you first bit your way into Mickey Spillane.

You ate chapter 1 and then began rushing,
On chapter 13 I noticed you blushing.

As the years pass on by you continue to munch,
You were big enough then to eat Ivanhoe for lunch.

Then you ate Lawrence of Arabia, I heard your loud sigh,
As you lay gasping for water - the book was so dry.

Today is your birthday, may you live good and long,
So the night will be filled with your nibbling song.

Now you can eat my presents from the back to the front
For today I've enrolled you in the "Book of the Month."

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 3 October 2006 13:08 (thirteen years ago) link

one year passes...

Ned Raggett, Saturday, 24 May 2008 19:03 (twelve years ago) link

four months pass...

Edie Adams RIP

Chris Barrus (Elvis Telecom), Thursday, 16 October 2008 20:04 (eleven years ago) link

eman, Thursday, 16 October 2008 20:25 (eleven years ago) link

Oh no! She was great, and of course very sexy. Rest in peace.

If Timi Yuro would be still alive, most other singers could shut up, Thursday, 16 October 2008 20:30 (eleven years ago) link

awwww jeez. I got her autograph at a Museum of Broadcasting thing on Ernie about 20 years ago.

she's terrific in The Apartment too.

Dr Morbius, Thursday, 16 October 2008 20:31 (eleven years ago) link

Yeah, that obit really sums her up well. Autograph story = neat!

If Timi Yuro would be still alive, most other singers could shut up, Thursday, 16 October 2008 20:34 (eleven years ago) link

Her Monroe impersonation is pretty funny. She was introduced on Ernie's show simply as "Marilyn Monroe." Who else was doing that in the '50s?

If Timi Yuro would be still alive, most other singers could shut up, Thursday, 16 October 2008 20:36 (eleven years ago) link

wow, that Lucy-Desi Hour scene sounds like a corker...

Dr Morbius, Thursday, 16 October 2008 20:39 (eleven years ago) link

a couple Edie clips via Perrin:

Dr Morbius, Friday, 17 October 2008 15:13 (eleven years ago) link

eight months pass...

Dr Morbius, Sunday, 28 June 2009 01:24 (ten years ago) link

one year passes...

Well here ya go:

LOS ANGELES, CA (JANUARY 10, 2011) With a gift for inventive comedy that was alternately cerebral, goofy and just plain absurd, Ernie Kovacs ( transformed television’s early era into his own personal playground---and invited viewers to enjoy every sight gag and loony character.

Produced and distributed by Shout! Factory in association with Ediad Productions, Inc., the long-awaited The Ernie Kovacs Collection 6-DVD box set is set to debut in stores across North America on April 19, 2011. This DVD box set is now available to preorder at,, and other online retailers.

Kovacs, whose offbeat humor graced the airwaves for just a decade in the 1950s and 60s, served healthy portions of the offbeat to his audiences, who had never seen anything quite like this cigar-wielding charmer. Wickedly funny but not offensive, Kovacs’ unique humor and flair for improvisation would ripple across generations, influencing TV funnymen from Johnny Carson and Monty Python to David Letterman, Pee Wee Herman and “Saturday Night Live.”

Distribution of this special collection is designed to introduce audiences to Kovacs’ genius. Kovacs, who died in a 1962 car accident, left behind a stunning body of work that survives thanks to the indefatigable efforts of his wife and co-star, the late Edie Adams.

Passionate fans and collectors take note: those who pre-order The Ernie Kovacs Collection from will receive an exclusive bonus DVD as a gift with purchase. The disc features over two hours of rare gems, including episodes of the Kovacs-hosted “Tonight” show, which have not been seen since their original broadcast over 50 years ago!

With many of the programs newly transferred from original 16mm kinescopes and curated by noted film/television historian Ben Model, The Ernie Kovacs Collection DVD box set is the first-ever comprehensive collection of Kovacs’ work–encompassing the full breadth of existing material, from his local Philadelphia morning shows in the early 1950’s and national evening shows to the ABC prime time specials in the early 1960’s that cemented his legend. Along with such iconic pieces at The Nairobi Trio and such signature characters as poet Percy Dovetonsils, Miklos Molnar, Matzoh Hepplewhite, Mr. Question Man, and Uncle Gruesome, fans will finally get to enjoy Kovacs’ genuine gift for improvisation, charm and warmth as host of his many variety shows.

The DVD set also includes the rare color version of Kovacs’ famous “Silent Show” (aka “Eugene”), an unprecedented wordless classic featuring a hapless character wandering through a typically Kovacsian world of surreal visual gags.

In addition to a wealth of bonus features, The Ernie Kovacs Collection includes a commemorative booklet filled with rare photos, informative program notes and a special tribute by award-winning novelist Jonathan Lethem (Motherless Brooklyn, Chronic City). Priced to own at $69.97 SRP, The Ernie Kovacs Collection from Shout! Factory offers fans what they have long waited for–the rest of the iceberg.

· Episodes From His Local and National Morning Shows
· Episodes From His NBC Prime-Time Show
· Take A Good Look
· Five ABC TV Specials
· The Color Version of His Legendary Silent Show, “Eugene”
· Classic Sketches
· 44-Page Booklet Featuring Rare Photos, Program Notes and essays by Jonathan Lethem (Motherless Brooklyn) and TV critic David Kronke.

DVD Bonus Features:
· 1987 Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall Of Fame Induction
· Remembering Ernie with George Schlatter (Laugh-In) and Jolene Brand (performer –ABC Specials)
· His Award-Winning Commercials for Dutch Masters Cigars
· “Baseball Film”
· Making Of “Baseball Film”
· “The Mysterious Knockwurst”
· Performer Andy McKay’s 8mm Home Movies
· “Superclod” Test
· Take A Good Look Clues
· Take A Good Look Sales Film
· Silents Please host segments
· Our Man In Havana Behind-The-Scenes Footage
· Dutch Masters Cigars commercials
· Ernie’s Trailer for Operation Mad Ball
· It Happened To Ernie featuring Jack Lemmon & Ernie Kovas
· Muriel Cigars commercials featuring Edie Adams

Ned Raggett, Monday, 10 January 2011 20:56 (nine years ago) link

just came here to post that. gonna actually pre-order something on the internet! never done that before. plus, if you buy it from shout factory its 7 dvds.

scott seward, Monday, 10 January 2011 23:49 (nine years ago) link

oh it says that up there.

scott seward, Monday, 10 January 2011 23:50 (nine years ago) link

didn't know that the its alive media dude that i get emails from was edie's son! my dad knew edie. back in the golden years.

scott seward, Monday, 10 January 2011 23:51 (nine years ago) link

two months pass...

A few more deets on the box from curator Ben Model:

And he also writes, for New Yorkers:

There will be a special event to promote the DVD set's release at the Paley Center for Media on April 12 at 6:30. Keith Olbermann will moderate a panel that includes me, Robert Smigel (Conan O'Brien), Joel Hodgson (MST3K), George Schlatter (Laugh-In) and his wife Jolene Brand Schlatter, who was on Kovacs' TV shows from 1960-62. Details and ticket info:

That's a rather amazing panel, across the eras.

Fuck bein' hard, Dr Morbz is complicated (Dr Morbius), Saturday, 12 March 2011 08:09 (nine years ago) link

five months pass...


dude was a fucking genius

zsa zsa and digweed (donna rouge), Monday, 29 August 2011 00:41 (eight years ago) link

I missed the Paley Center thing. I assume I'll get that box for Christmas.

incredibly middlebrow (Dr Morbius), Monday, 29 August 2011 00:57 (eight years ago) link

seven months pass...

...and I did. No time to watch, of course.

NYC monthlong retro of Ernie & Edie:

World Congress of Itch (Dr Morbius), Friday, 6 April 2012 01:12 (eight years ago) link

I love you, Ernie Kovacs.

Kevin John Bozelka, Friday, 6 April 2012 02:25 (eight years ago) link

two months pass...

Percy Dovetonsils album released after 52 years in limbo!

Pangborn to be Wilde (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 19 June 2012 21:19 (seven years ago) link

love this dude so fucking much.

flesh, the devil, and a wolf (wolf) (amateurist), Tuesday, 19 June 2012 22:27 (seven years ago) link

see 'rist, I knew we could find common ground.

Pangborn to be Wilde (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 20 June 2012 00:49 (seven years ago) link

we have other points of common ground! lots of them! that's not the issue. the issue is that you a behave mighty trollishly.

flesh, the devil, and a wolf (wolf) (amateurist), Wednesday, 20 June 2012 13:22 (seven years ago) link


flesh, the devil, and a wolf (wolf) (amateurist), Wednesday, 20 June 2012 13:22 (seven years ago) link

if u say so, and don't squeeze so hard.

Pangborn to be Wilde (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 20 June 2012 13:56 (seven years ago) link

five months pass...

Interview w/ Edie Adams' son Josh Mills about her post-Kovacs life and role as an archivist:

saltwater incursion (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 29 November 2012 16:34 (seven years ago) link

This shit fascinated me as a kid.

Nate Carson, Friday, 30 November 2012 00:58 (seven years ago) link

three months pass...

making my way through the first box. he wanted to perhaps make a "Eugene" movie with Alec Guinness.

Pope Rusty I (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 13 March 2013 20:45 (seven years ago) link

Pope Rusty I (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 13 March 2013 20:53 (seven years ago) link

his NBC morning show was a seat-of-the-pants operation. There's one in the first box that's from its second week, a technical near-disaster, but he maintains brio and good humor throughout -- sticking his head up during a puppet skit to ask for a speedier teleprompter.

Pope Rusty I (Dr Morbius), Friday, 15 March 2013 18:32 (seven years ago) link

gorillas for the win

Pope Rusty I (Dr Morbius), Friday, 22 March 2013 23:37 (seven years ago) link


haha, I don't think i ever saw this sketch til last night. "And to make it interesting, I'm going to shoot Mr Kosnofsky in the arm...."

Pope Rusty I (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 26 March 2013 15:18 (seven years ago) link

one year passes...

does anyone have the 2nd EK box (the last ABC specials?) or the Adams box?

things lose meaning over time (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 2 December 2014 17:29 (five years ago) link

yeah i do.

I dunno. (amateurist), Tuesday, 2 December 2014 18:35 (five years ago) link

but you can't have it!

I dunno. (amateurist), Tuesday, 2 December 2014 18:35 (five years ago) link

one year passes...

The Library of Congress has taken another step in its effort to preserve American television and video by acquiring a collection of kinescopes, videotapes, 16 mm and Super 8 home movies of legendary comedian Ernie Kovacs and his wife, singer-actress-comedienne Edie Adams. It is the most comprehensive collection of their work in existence today....

Highlights include:

2" videotape masters of all eight of Kovacs' monthly specials for ABC (1961-1962)
35 mm kinescopes of 74 episodes of Kovacs' morning show for NBC (1956)
2" videotape masters of 35 episodes of "Take a Good Look," Kovacs' tongue-in-cheek panel quiz show (ABC, 1959-1961)
Original 16 mm elements of Kovacs' silent-movie spoof "The Mysterious Knockwurst," made for his CBS morning show in 1953
2" videotape masters of all 21 episodes of "Here's Edie" (ABC, 1962-1964)
Original 16 mm kinescopes for "Ernie in Kovacsland" (NBC, 1951)
Audio masters of a formerly unreleased Kovacs LP "Percy Dovetonsils...Thpeakth"
Test footage of matting effects for Ernie as "Superclod"

The Ernie Kovacs and Edie Adams Collection will be available to researchers in the Library's Motion Picture and Television Reading Room in Washington, D.C. Processing of the collection continues, but much of it is currently available to researchers.

skateboards are the new combover (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 3 December 2015 17:49 (four years ago) link

Milton Parker, Thursday, 3 December 2015 18:47 (four years ago) link

Milton Parker, Thursday, 3 December 2015 18:47 (four years ago) link

one year passes...

new Shout Factory set featuring his insane quiz show Take a Good Look; contains all 49 extant episodes (6 discs) and a bonus 7th disc if you order from Shout of a 1959 special called Private Eye, Private Eye starring Ernie, Edie, Pat Carroll and Hans Conreid.

ice cream social justice (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 2 August 2017 16:11 (two years ago) link

one year passes...

It's Ernie's centennial in a couple weeks. I could find an event in LA, but not NY.

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 8 January 2019 20:25 (one year ago) link

lifetime achievement award for morbz for keeping this thread going, kovacs 4ever

Sigur Ros or Pomplamoose type shit (rushomancy), Saturday, 12 January 2019 00:42 (one year ago) link

Tonight TCM is celebrating Kovacs' centennial:|0/Ernie-Kovacs-Centennial-1-23.html

Anne Hedonia (, Wednesday, 23 January 2019 14:11 (one year ago) link

I haven't seen a ton of the films, but if anyone thinks anything besides Our Man in Havana is essential...

(not that i have TCM)

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 23 January 2019 15:43 (one year ago) link

Kovacs on Percy Dovetonsils: "He's a beautiful soul who hasn't quite made it over the line into this rude, virile world."

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 23 January 2019 20:52 (one year ago) link

"The Ernie Kovacs Centennial Exhibit" will debut in August 2019, during the National Comedy Center's annual Lucille Ball Comedy Festival. The installation will showcase never-before-exhibited creative papers, rare audiovisual content and original, screen-used artifacts from Kovacs' influential 1950s and early 1960s television shows and specials. The Festival week (August 7-11) will also feature a panel event honoring Kovacs' art and legacy.

"We are so pleased to partner with the National Comedy Center to celebrate Ernie Kovacs' centennial," said Josh Mills, executive for the Kovacs estate and son of actress/comedienne Edie Adams, who was Kovacs' wife, co-star, and creative collaborator. "Most of this material has never been exhibited before, so it's an unprecedented, first-hand look at Ernie's comedic genius and his unique approach to his work."

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Friday, 25 January 2019 17:33 (one year ago) link

I'm watching discs 7-9 of the Centennial Collection (previously Volume 2) and it's almost all NBC morning shows. Damn, there are a lot of "Kapusta Kid in Outer Space" puppet sketches. They are not especially funny, but they revel in being bizarre.

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Sunday, 3 February 2019 17:46 (one year ago) link

very thorough career appraisal

He contemplated at least two movie “properties,” one based on “Eugene” as a vehicle for friend Alec Guinness as well as his own novel Zoomar (see illustration), a TV industry satire based on his dense knowledge and experience of the business.

Otherwise disappointed by Our Man in Havana, Guinness later recalled in his memoirs: “There were two great and unexpected pleasures in making that film.” The second was spending an evening with Ernest Hemingway. The first? “Getting to know Ernie Kovacs . . . Kovacs was as different as could be; outrageously extrovert, wild, rash, gipsy-like and, in a Goonish way, just about the funniest man I have ever met.”...

Given another decade or more, could Ernie have produced film gems equivalent to Preston Sturges’ best comedies, or have challenged Jerry Lewis as American cinema’s primary comedy “auteur” in the early to mid-1960s by whatever term then used for such an all-in-one film clown?

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Monday, 4 February 2019 17:11 (one year ago) link

he's quite excellent in a more serious, somewhat self-mocking part in "strangers when we meet"

affects breves telnet (Gummy Gummy), Monday, 4 February 2019 18:21 (one year ago) link

those morning shows are precious -- not much off-the-cuff (or somewhat off-the-cuff) live morning TV from that era survives, for obvious reasons.

affects breves telnet (Gummy Gummy), Monday, 4 February 2019 18:22 (one year ago) link

five months pass...

afaik the main Kovacs tribute in NYC this summer will take place on August 13, with panelists including Hal Willner and Chris Stein:

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 10 July 2019 17:23 (ten months ago) link

one month passes...
three months pass...

free Kovacs screening/panel in NYC tomw night, sponsored by the Hungarian Cultural Center

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Monday, 9 December 2019 16:54 (five months ago) link

dang, cool! wish i wasn't spoken for already

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Monday, 9 December 2019 17:06 (five months ago) link

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