Ernie Kovacs

Ernie Kovacs


1/23/1919, Trenton, New Jersey, USA



Birth Name

Ernest Edward Kovacs


out of 10
User Rating
5 votes


Creative and innovative early television comedian and talk show host whose style would influence the likes of Chevy Chase and David Letterman. Hosted several of his own variety shows during the 1950's and appeared in movies such as North to Alaska, Our Man in Havana, Sail a Crooked…more


Trivia and Quotes

  • Trivia

    • Kovacs' life was the subject of a biography published in 1975 entitled Nothing in Moderation. It was written by David Walley.

    • Co-starred with Alec Guinness in the film Our Man in Havana. Later referred to Guiness as the finest actor he ever worked with.

    • When he was killed, Ernie was returning home from a party at Milton Berle's house.

    • Kovacs was of the Roman Catholic religious faith.

    • Kovacs was a huge fan of classical music and frequently incorporated it into routines on his shows.

    • Five Golden Hours was reportedly Kovacs' favorite out of all his films.

    • In 1987, Kovacs was posthumously inducted into the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame.

    • In 1994, on what would have been his 75th birthday, a bust of Kovacs was unveiled in his hometown of Trenton, New Jersey.

    • Kovacs' life was the subject of a play entitled The Importance of Being Ernie by Sean Sanczel.

    • Kovacs refused to file income tax returns because he thought the United States tax system was unfair.

    • Kovacs was a strapping fellow who stood 6 feet, 4 inches tall.

    • Kovacs' first television show was on WPTZ in Philadelphia in 1949-50.

    • Kovacs began his show biz career as a disc jockey on radio station WTTM in Trenton, New Jersey.

    • One of Kovacs' most frequent and best remembered characters was an alcoholic poet named Percy Dovetonsils.

    • Kovacs was an avid cigar smoker who often smoked up to 20 stogies a day. According to Hollywood legend, he even had a cigar in his mouth at the time of his fatal automobile accident.

    • The inscription on Kovacs' tombstone reads "Nothing in Moderation."

    • Frequently appeared on game shows such as What's My Line? and You Bet Your Life.

    • Kovacs was an insomniac who rarely slept more than three or four hours a night.

    • Kovacs always claimed that his father was a bootlegger during Prohibition.

    • Kovacs married Edie Adams in Mexico City on September 12, 1954. The ceremony was presided over by former New York City Mayor William O'Dwyer.

    • Kovacs is buried in the Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills Cemetary.

    • Kovacs has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame located at 8303 Hollywood Boulevard.

    • Kovacs disliked performing in front of live audiences because he felt that live audiences distracted him.

    • Kovacs and wife Edie Adams were the guest stars in the final episode of the Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour ever taped. Lucille Ball filed for divorce from Desi Arnaz the day after the episode's taping.

    • Jeff Goldlum portrayed Kovacs in a 1984 made-for-TV movie entitled Ernie Kovacs: Between the Laughter.

    • Upon his death, friend Jack Lemmon identified Kovacs' body in the city morgue after his hysterical wife was unable to do so.

    • Kovacs wrote a novel entitled Zoomar which was published in 1957.

    • Kovacs' most popular bit on his shows was three musical apes known as the Nairobi Trio.

    • Kovacs' first wife would later abduct their two daughters after she lost custody of them. He spent a couple of years searching for them before finding them in Florida.

    • After hosting the Tonight Show for two nights a week in 1956-57, Kovacs would later accused the show's regular host, Steve Allen, of stealing several of his routines.

    • In a rare occurrence for that era, Kovacs was granted full custody of his two daughters after his divorce from his first wife due to the fact that she was mentally unstable.

    • Kovacs had two daughters, Bettie and Kippie, with his first wife Bette Wilcox and one daughter, Mia Susan, with his second wife, Edie Adams. In a sad bit of irony, Mia Susan Kovacs was killed in an automobile accident in 1982 not far from the location where her father had been killed 20 years earlier.

    • Kovacs frequently appeared in commercials for Dutch Masters cigars. Ironically, wife Edie Adams was the spokeswoman for rival Muriel cigars.

    • Kovacs was originally scheduled to play the role of dentist Melville Crump in the ensemble comedy It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World but when he died in a car wreck shortly before filming began, the role was given to Sid Caesar. Kovacs' widow, Edie Adams, kept her role as Mrs. Crump.

    • When Kovacs died, he owed the government a large amount of money in back taxes. Widow Edie Adams worked for years and finally paid off her late husband's tax debt.

    • Kovacs was of Hungarian descent.

  • Quotes

    • Kovacs: We do these shows for the love of it. The money means nothing. The money is nothing, consequently it means nothing.

    • Kovacs: Seeing a murder on television can help work off one's antagonisms. And if you haven't any antagonisms, the commercials will give you some.

    • Kovacs: There is currently a formula for success in the entertainment medium, that is--beat it to death if it succeeds.

    • Kovacs: Television is often called a medium because it's so rarely well done.

No one has discussed Ernie Kovacs yet. Start a conversation!