Saturday, May 31, 2008


I don't know if anybody has ever ranked the top second bananas in Television variety, but I can't see how Harvey Korman could be surpassed as the King. The comedian passed away this week at the age of 81.

After a tour of duty with Danny Kaye, Korman joined Carol Burnett when she launched her series. He created memorable foils to her gallery of comic divas, femme fatales, and other funny ladies. They were at their best when spoofing characters from movies - Harvey as Rhett Butler and Carol as Scarlett O'Hara are perhaps the standard by which movie spoofs should be judged. And their long-running sketches about Ed and Eunice spawned a sitcom spin-off, 'Mama's Family'.
HIs best work on the show may have been with frequent guest star Tim Conway (whom everyone thought was a regular long before he actually became one). Just about every blogger who carried a tribute to Korman on their blogs in the last 24 hours or so imbedded the YouTube clip of the "Dentist Sketch". In it, Korman was the patient and Conway was the inept doctor who numbed his whole body with novocaine. It's a classic not only for Conway's physical comedy, but because it serves as a great example of Korman's inability to control his laughter. I think people watched 'The Carol Burnett Show' each week in anticipation of when Korman would finally lose it.
Like Dick Martin, who passed away last week, Korman was also responsible for creating enough characters in other TV shows to fill the Mayberry phone book - from international villains of the 1870s to elderly patients in emergency rooms.

He also provided the televersion of the legendary comic straight man Bud Abbott, teamed up with Buddy Hackett as Lou Costello in "Bud And Lou".

Harvey Korman's strength and fame came from the world of the Tube, but it's a movie role that will best be remembered for the ages. In 1974, Korman took over the role of Hedy - sorry, that's Hedley! - Lamarr in Mel Brooks' Western spoof "Blazing Saddles". (Gene Wilder replaced Dan Dailey in the role of the Waco Kid, but I've never been able to find out who Korman replaced.)
In the Tooniverse, Korman will be immortalized as the voice of the Great Gazoo on 'The Flintstones. Gazoo was banished back in time to the Stone Age, where he would often befriend/bedevil Fred Flintstone.

And he played several parts in the notorious 1977 holiday special connected to "Star Wars", which George Lucas will forever try to banish from our memories. But it's too late, once broadcast, it has become a fixture in the Toobworld firmament!
As part our tip of the hat to Harvey Korman's memory, here is the list of characters he created for the main Toobworld:

The Tooniverse
"Buzz Lightyear of Star Command" - Gularis
Panic on Bathyos (19 October 2000)

"The Wild Thornberrys" - Earl
No Laughing Matter (24 August 1999)

"Hey Arnold!" - Don Reynolds
Runaway Float/Partners (1 January 1997)
Dino Checks Out (11 December 1999)

"The What a Cartoon Show" - O. Ratz
O. Ratz: Rat in a Hot Tin Can (31 July 1995)

"Garfield and Friends" - Additional Voices
The Legend of Johnny Ragweedseed/Grape Expectations/Catch as Cats Can't (17 September 1994)
The Perfect Match/Temp Trouble/Change of Mind (1 October 1994)

"The Flintstones" - The Great Gazoo
The Great Gazoo (29 October 1965)
The Stonefinger Caper (19 November 1965)
Royal Rubble (10 December 1965)
Seeing Doubles (17 December 1965)
How to Pick a Fight with Your Wife Without Really Trying (7 January 1966)
Two Men on a Dinosaur (4 February 1966)
Curtain Call at Bedrock (18 February 1966)
Boss for a Day (25 February 1966)
Jealousy (11 March 1966)
My Fair Freddy (25 March 1966)

"ER" (1 episode) - Stan Levy
Stuck on You (5 November 1998)

"Suddenly Susan" - Jimmy
The Old and the Beautiful (24 November 1997)

"Perversions of Science" - The Farmer
Panic (2 July 1997)

"Diagnosis Murder" - Harvey Huckaby
Comedy Is Murder (8 May 1997)

"Ellen" - The Therapist
Harold and Ellen (6 November 1996)

"Burke's Law" - Dr. John Richmond
Who Killed the King of the Country Club? (6 July 1995)

"The Golden Palace" - Bill
Marriage on the Rocks with a Twist (20 November 1992)

"The Nutt House" - Reginald Tarkington

"Leo & Liz In Beverly Hills" (1986) - Leo Green

"George Burns Comedy Week" - Leo Green
The Couch (15 October 1985)

'Mama's Family' - Ed Higgins
The Wedding: Part 2 (12 February 1983)
Cellmates (26 February 1983)
Positive Thinking (30 April 1983)

"The Love Boat" Spoonmaker Diamond, The/Papa Doc/The Role Model/Julie's Tycoon: Part 1&2 (13 November 1982)
Japan Cruise: When Worlds Collide/The Captain and the Geisha/The Lottery Winners/The Emperor's Fortune: Part 2 (5 November 1983)
Roomates/Heartbreaker/Out of Blue (7 December 1985)

"Snavely" (1978) - Henry Snavely

"America 2-Night" - Harvey Korman
Celebrity Night (13 April 1978)

"The Harvey Korman Show" - Harvey A. Kavanaugh
The One Where There's a Hold-Up (1 January 1978)
The One Where Harvey Goes on a Kids' Show (24 June 1978)
The One Where Harvey Won't Change (1 July 1978)

"The Muppet Show" - Harvey Korman
Episode #1.10 (27 May 1976)

"Insight" - Matt Slovak
Crunch on Spruce Street (24 March 1974)

"The Wild Wild West" - Baron Hinterstoisser
The Night of the Big Blackmail (27 September 1968)

"F Troop" - Colonel Heindrich von Zeppel
Bye, Bye, Balloon (22 September 1966)

"The Hero" - Ralph Rayburn
The Big Return of Little Eddie (15 September 1966)

"The John Forsythe Show" - H.H. Hopper
Duty and the Beast (22 November 1965)

"Gidget" - Joe Hanley
Daddy Come Home (6 October 1965)

"Disneyland" - Brownie
The Adventures of Gallegher: Part 1 (24 January 1965)
The Adventures of Gallegher: Part 2 (31 January 1965)
The Adventures of Gallegher: Part 3 (7 February 1965)
The Further Adventures of Gallegher: A Case of Murder (26 September 1965)
The Further Adventures of Gallegher: The Big Swindle (3 October 1965)
The Further Adventures of Gallegher: The Daily Press vs. City Hall (10 October 1965)

"The Munsters"
Family Portrait (17 December 1964) - Lennie Bates
Yes, Galen, There Is a Herman (10 June 1965) - Dr. Leinbach
Prehistoric Munster (10 March 1966) - Prof. Fagenspahen

"The Jack Benny Program"
Jack Loses a Raffle (13 November 1964) - Director
Jack Brings Ed Up from the Vault (5 March 1965) - 1st Sergeant
Jack Has Dog Trouble (9 April 1965) - 2nd Salesman

"The Lucy Show"
Lucy, the Camp Cook (24 October 1964) - Camp Counselor
Lucy the Stockholder (29 March 1965) - Mr. Phillips
Lucy at Marineland (13 September 1965)

Maid for a Day (23 April 1964)

"The Eleventh Hour" - Blake
Who Chopped Down the Cherry Tree? (29 January 1964)

"Glynis" - as Himself(?)
Three Men in a Tub (25 September 1963)

"Sam Benedict" - Reporter
Of Rusted Cannons and Fallen Sparrows (23 March 1963)

"Empire" - Bunce
Pressure Lock (4 December 1962)

"Perry Mason" - Coleman
The Case of the Unsuitable Uncle (8 November 1962)

"I'm Dickens, He's Fenster" - Mr. Rembar
The Acting Game (2 November 1962)

"The Untouchables" - Resident
Bird in the Hand (30 October 1962)

"Surfside 6" - Prosecutor
Green Bay Riddle (23 April 1962)

"The Detectives Starring Robert Taylor"
The Jagged Edge (9 February 1962)

"Dennis the Menace"
Haunted House (29 October 1961) - Bowers
My Four Boys (17 March 1963) - Mr. Griffin

"Hennesey" - Dr. Don Spright
The Gossip Go-Round (25 September 1961)

"Adventures in Paradise" - Merchant
Flamin' Lady (22 May 1961)

"Route 66"
The Quick and the Dead (13 January 1961) - Len
Suppose I Said I Was the Queen of Spain (8 February 1963) - Mr. Mills

As Red Skelton would say: "May God Bless......"

Toby OB

"You have to have a certain persona to be a star, you know,
and I don't have that.
I'm a banana."
Harvey Korman


Ruth said...

Thanks for the tribute, Toby. Just one thing: Last week I heard an interview with Mel Brooks on NPR, and he said that Gene Wilder was a replacement for Gig Young, not Dan Dailey, in Blazing Saddles. This site says the same thing, but mentions that Dan Dailey was once considered for the role.

Toby said...

Thanks, Ruth!

It could be that Dan Dailey was intended for Lamarr, perhaps? I could see him, with his movie musical background, having the flourish that Brooks might have been looking for to play Lamarr.

Gig Young... I could see him being cast in the role and for a variety of reasons I can see why it didn't work out.....

Thanks again for the info!