Harvey Korman has left the stage for the final time. The veteran television actor passed away yesterday at the age of 81.
As you probably now, Korman had a very prolific and long career. Many came to know him via his work in Mel Brooks movies like History of the World Part I, High Anxiety, and Blazing Saddles or two of the Pink Panther movies.
Korman starred on several short-lived comedy TV series and was a guest on quite a few others. He appeared in the first Love Boat pilot (featuring a very different crew) and popped up four times on the series that followed. Korman could also be found on The Muppet Show, The Golden Palace, The Munsters, Roseanne, ER, and many other shows over the years.
He was also quite busy with animated series like Garfield and Friends, Hey Arnold!, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, and most notably, as The Great Gazoo in the final season of The Flintstones. Though many felt that the arrival of the green little alien was a “jump the shark” moment for the series, Korman remained connected to the “modern stone-age family.” He had small roles in both of the live-action Flintstones movies and reprised his role as Gazoo in the The Flintstones Bedrock Bowling video game in 2000.
Korman is, of course, best known for his work on The Carol Burnett Show. He was nominated for six Emmy Awards and won four for his work on the variety show. When he left in 1977, Korman was replaced by Dick Van Dyke but the Burnett show was never the same. He reprised his role as hen-pecked Ed Harper a couple times on the Mama’s Family spin-off, directed four episodes, and introduced first season episodes as the haughty Alistair Quince (in a parody of PBS’ Masterpiece Theatre).
Though he was obviously a very gifted and funny man, he was also a great audience. If you’ve ever seen the Burnett show, you know that his friend and frequent partner Tim Conway loved to try to crack him up on-stage and off. In later years, the two friends toured the country together in a stage show. They did as many as 120 shows a year and sometimes six or eight performances in a weekend.
I had the pleasure of attending the first Carol Burnett Show reunion. Seeing Carol Burnett, Vicki Lawrence, Lyle Waggoner, Conway, and Korman in person, together, was a great thrill. They were all quite genial, funny, and seemed to genuinely love one another. True to form, Conway did his best to make Korman burst into fits of laughter.
Korman suffered an abdominal aortic aneurysm four months ago and miraculously survived. He fought hard to recover but has now passed away. Of his longtime friend, Conway told the L.A. Times, “It’s a 45-year friendship? It was a great ride; we worked together probably 30 years, plus the Burnett show, which was about as good as it gets.”
One of viewers’ and the duo’s favorite Burnett memories was of the “dentist sketch.” Conway says, “They play it at all the dental schools, as kind of an introduction on how not to do it.” Korman doesn’t have a very active part but he’s sure fun to watch. Take a look…