Jim Varney

Jim Varney


6/15/1949, Lexington, Kentucky



Birth Name

James Albert Varney, Jr


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Born on June 15, 1949, Jim Varney always wanted to act. He began his acting career in high school, and won a number of state level competitions for drama. He finally made it to television when he was asked to do a commercial for Ernest, a character created…more


Trivia and Quotes

  • Trivia

    • Jim Varney was honored by the State Senate of Tennessee, in 1992, for his contributions to the state, especially in the area of children's charities.

    • Jim Varney had the ability as a young child to memorize long poems and significant portions of material from books. This came as a delight to family and friends.

    • Jim Varney first appeared as the Ernest P. Worrell character in a commercial to advertise an appearance by the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders at the Beech Bend Park, near Bowling Green, Kentucky, in 1980.

    • Jim Varney was 6'1".

    • In a sad irony, Jim Varney appeared as his signature character, Ernest P. Worrell in a public service spot in 1986 that had Ernest trying to get his off-screen friend Vern to stop smoking. Varney, a heavy smoker, died of lung cancer in 2000.

    • Jim Varney was nominated for a Razzie Award in 1988 as Worst New Star for the film Ernest Goes To Camp .

    • In 1989, Jim won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer in a Children's Series playing Ernest P. Worrell, Auntie Nelda, Dr. Otto, Sergeant Glory, Baby Ernest and Astor Clement on Hey Vern, It's Ernest!.

    • Jim Varney also appeared as the character Sgt. Glory for the Southern Diary Commission, in a series of commercials.

    • Jim Varney appeared in nine different films as the character, Ernest P. Worrell. Four of the films were studio releases and five were made for the straight-to-video market. He almost finished another Ernest movie before he died entitled Ernest the Pirate.

    • Jim Varney visited several hundred terminally ill children in his "Ernest" persona. Varney made these visits through the Make-A-Wish Foundation and other foundations of the same ilk. Varney was never known to have turned down a single request of this kind.

    • Jim Varney credited his high school teacher, Thelma Beeler, with sparking his interest in acting.

    • Jim Varney studied Shakespeare at the famous Barter Theater, located in Virginia.

    • Jim Varney, reportedly, had a near genius level intelligence, and at times, could become a bit exasperated meeting fans that automatically thought he was as intellectually challenged as his signature, Ernest P. Worrell.

    • Jim Varney and Robin Williams were very good friends. The two met when doing stand up at the Comedy Store, in L.A.

    • Jim Varney's signature character was "Ernest P. Worrell."

    • Jim Varney was married twice. His first wife was Jacqueline Drew. She and Varney were married from 1977-1983. Varney's second wife was Jane Varney. Jane and Varney were married from 1988-1991. Varney had no children.

    • Jim Varney won several state drama competitions when he was a student at Layafette High School in Lexington, Kentucky. Varney graduated from high school in 1968.

    • Played the dog Slinky in Toy Story and the sequel, Toy Story II .

  • Quotes

    • Jim Varney: I'd like to do a piece of Shakespeare. Any upcoming Shakespeare film. Just a bit to say I did a classic.

    • Jim Varney: I started to do a study on how not to do stand-up comedy. Yeah, it's lonely work. You die, you die alone. It's you, the light, and the audience. You win, you win big. You lose, you lose big time.

    • Jim Varney: Everybody likes Ernest unless they are too cool. The people that like sports cars and sunglasses are not our audience. They like the action-adventure, tough-guy stuff. From 14 down and 25 up, we have a huge audience. Older people aren't afraid to laugh at him, and kids aren't self-conscious yet.

    • Jim Varney: Yeah, I started in theater. I apprenticed at the Barter Theater in Virginia and did summer stock for a long time before I ever got in front of a camera.

    • (Jim Varney on doing his stand up comedy routine.)
      Jim Varney: That's a rough department, stand up comedy. At one point I had an act where I could go 30 or 40 minutes, and I knew the material I was going to do, the timing. You could play it one night and knock'em over. The next night you could play the same material and nothing.

    • (Jim Varney doing his catch phrase as signature character, Ernest P. Worrell .)
      Jim Varney: Know what I mean, Vern?

    • (Jim Varney on his signature character, Ernest P. Worrell .)
      Jim Varney: Ernest is a neighbor or relative that we've all had at one time. He's abrasive, but he doesn't mean to be. He gets excited and ends up standing on your toes. I try to make him clownish and I don't want him to be too low key, and he's physically funny.