One of my favorite actors of all time, Harvey Korman, has passed away due to complications of an abdominal aneurysm. He was 81.
For those of you out there too young to be familiar with his work, he was a regular on “The Carol Burnett Show” from 1967 through 1978. He is also famous for working with Mel Brooks on the classic films “Blazing Saddles”, “High Anxiety”, and “History of the World, Part 1″.
I fell in love with Korman’s work watching old “Carol Burnett” reruns with my parents. I was born in 1975, so it probably wasn’t until the late 1980′s I started watching them in syndication. That was the best sketch comedy show I have ever seen on television – better than SNL – and one of the big reasons was Korman’s inability to “keep it together” when Tim Conway started ad libbing. If you’ve never seen it, you have to check out the famous Dentist Sketch. Funniest…skit…ever.
Tim Conway and Harvey Korman toured together doing a comedy show several years ago. My wife was also a big fan, so we got tickets and went. We were easily the youngest people there! It was just Harvey and Tim recreating old Carol Burnett skits, and some other new sketches, but mostly it was Conway breaking Harvey up on stage. Priceless.
I also have to give a nod to Korman’s role as Heddy (“That’s Hedley!”) Lamarr in “Blazing Saddles”. I could quote his lines all day – including the famous “Go do…that voodoo….that you do…so well!!” Mel Brooks said that Korman had a way of “elevating the material.” That certainly seems true. I can’t imagine anyone else doing this scene from “Blazing Saddles” and making it funnier:
RIP Harvey Korman – you will be missed!