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What's My Line? Forums

CBS (ended 1967)

Ernie Kovacs Forum

  • Avatar of ymike673

    ymike673

    [21]Jul 8, 2005
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    Yes, I have seen quite a bit of Ernie's work at the museum.
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  • Avatar of lovewml

    lovewml

    [22]Jul 8, 2005
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    I seem to recall in the late '70s or early '80s PBS showing some old Kovacs shows. I wish I had a VCR back then, I remember them fondly but haven't seen 'em since. When Letterman first aired in '82 I remember thinking he's ripping off Kovacs- a lot of younger people probably didn't know that & thought it was all original. Kovacs was a genius- far better than Steve Allen. If only it wasn't for those stupid cigars- it's believed that he was trying to light one when he lost control of his car and... damn it!
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  • Avatar of W-B

    W-B

    [23]Jul 8, 2005
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    lovewml wrote:
    I seem to recall in the late '70s or early '80s PBS showing some old Kovacs shows. I wish I had a VCR back then, I remember them fondly but haven't seen 'em since. When Letterman first aired in '82 I remember thinking he's ripping off Kovacs- a lot of younger people probably didn't know that & thought it was all original. Kovacs was a genius- far better than Steve Allen. If only it wasn't for those stupid cigars- it's believed that he was trying to light one when he lost control of his car and... damn it!

    I.I.N.M., the car Mr. Kovacs was driving when he died was a Corvair - one of the cars cited in Ralph Nader's Unsafe At Any Speed book. Whatta coincidence. . . .
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  • Avatar of helenecurtis

    helenecurtis

    [24]Jul 9, 2005
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    ymike673 wrote:
    It was mentioned on the previous show that Ernie was going to Hollywood to appear in a film.

    I believe that Ernie was going to Hollywood to film "Bell, Book and Candle" released in 1958. It is often shown on the old movie channels, and I highly recommend it. His role is supporting, but it is an interesting view of 50's New York City. James Stewart and Kim Novak star.
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  • Avatar of ymike673

    ymike673

    [25]Jul 10, 2005
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    Kim Novack stars. A very funny film.
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  • Avatar of helenecurtis

    helenecurtis

    [26]Jul 11, 2005
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    helenecurtis wrote:
    ymike673 wrote:
    It was mentioned on the previous show that Ernie was going to Hollywood to appear in a film.

    I believe that Ernie was going to Hollywood to film "Bell, Book and Candle" released in 1958. It is often shown on the old movie channels, and I highly recommend it. His role is supporting, but it is an interesting view of 50's New York City. James Stewart and Kim Novak star.

    Also there is an appearance on Playhouse 90 (90-minute drama series)that Ernie made in September of '57. I think it is more likely that that is where he was traveling to.
    Has anyone noticed that Ernie is not a real team player? He seems more interested in just getting his own laughs from the audience when he asks questions like "Can it be folded?" or asking an obviously female mystery guest "Are you Abraham Lincoln?", etc. He seems to throw away a lot of questions purely in exchange for audience reaction. Has John become increasingly annoyed with him? I haven't read the Fates' book, is there anything mentioned about Ernie in it?
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  • Avatar of W-B

    W-B

    [27]Jul 11, 2005
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    helenecurtis wrote:
    Has anyone noticed that Ernie is not a real team player? He seems more interested in just getting his own laughs from the audience when he asks questions like "Can it be folded?" or asking an obviously female mystery guest "Are you Abraham Lincoln?", etc. He seems to throw away a lot of questions purely in exchange for audience reaction. Has John become increasingly annoyed with him? I haven't read the Fates' book, is there anything mentioned about Ernie in it?

    There was at least one other famous person who played more by his own rules than WML?'s as a panelist besides Mr. Kovacs. Groucho Marx ("Are you a corrupt politician? Or is that a redundant question?"). But I also noticed Ernie seemed especially uncomfortable and lost during Bennett's lone guest-hosting stint, most tellingly during the "mask" portions.
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  • Avatar of ymike673

    ymike673

    [28]Jul 11, 2005
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    On today's show, for the first time, Ernie did not have a cigar. Wonder if the producers told him not to smoke on the show. Wonder what his reaction was when "Mystery Guest" Danny Thomas came out holding a cigar!
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  • Avatar of lovewml

    lovewml

    [29]Jul 11, 2005
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    W-B wrote:
    helenecurtis wrote:
    Has anyone noticed that Ernie is not a real team player? He seems more interested in just getting his own laughs from the audience when he asks questions like "Can it be folded?" or asking an obviously female mystery guest "Are you Abraham Lincoln?", etc. He seems to throw away a lot of questions purely in exchange for audience reaction. Has John become increasingly annoyed with him? I haven't read the Fates' book, is there anything mentioned about Ernie in it?

    There was at least one other famous person who played more by his own rules than WML?'s as a panelist besides Mr. Kovacs. Groucho Marx ("Are you a corrupt politician? Or is that a redundant question?"). But I also noticed Ernie seemed especially uncomfortable and lost during Bennett's lone guest-hosting stint, most tellingly during the "mask" portions.


    People like Kovacs & Marx were noted for their irreverent humor. I doubt that they were booked on the show to be serious- but to shake things up a bit & give Dorothy the giggles. It's always great when DK & JCD are trying desperately to retain their normal composure- but can't quite manage it.
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  • Avatar of Stopette

    Stopette

    [30]Jul 12, 2005
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    W-B wrote:
    lovewml wrote:
    I seem to recall in the late '70s or early '80s PBS showing some old Kovacs shows. I wish I had a VCR back then, I remember them fondly but haven't seen 'em since. When Letterman first aired in '82 I remember thinking he's ripping off Kovacs- a lot of younger people probably didn't know that & thought it was all original. Kovacs was a genius- far better than Steve Allen. If only it wasn't for those stupid cigars- it's believed that he was trying to light one when he lost control of his car and... damn it!

    I.I.N.M., the car Mr. Kovacs was driving when he died was a Corvair - one of the cars cited in Ralph Nader's Unsafe At Any Speed book. Whatta coincidence. . . .


    But we'll never know exactly what happened because Mr. Kovacs was alone in the car. Nobody witnessed it. If you suspect somebody did see or hear the crash, then you've never visited the canyons in the Hollywood Hills where the January 1962 accident happened. It was raining at the time. That's all we need to know. Nothing sinister was going on.

    Los Angeles is and always has been a dangerous place for driving. January is one of the few months when it rains there, but when it rains the canyons are death traps. Even the fragile Marilyn Monroe drove a Thunderbird around Beverly Hills in the mid 1950s, but she gave it away after she hit and damaged another car. Had she been too scared to drive in the first place, then her acting career would have gone nowhere. Has anyone here ever set foot in Los Angeles County ?
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  • Avatar of ymike673

    ymike673

    [31]Jul 12, 2005
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    Very funny moment on today's show when Ernie's standard question "Can it be folded?" was answered yes by the man who made folding beds. When Ernie said "I never thought up a follow up to my question" I just burst out laughing. I believe this was the first time that Ernie was able to guess an occupation correctly. I think there are only 1 or 2 more Kovacs episodes. He will be missed.
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  • Avatar of jimarnone

    jimarnone

    [32]Jul 12, 2005
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    ymike673 wrote:
    Very funny moment on today's show when Ernie's standard question "Can it be folded?" was answered yes by the man who made folding beds. When Ernie said "I never thought up a follow up to my question" I just burst out laughing. I believe this was the first time that Ernie was able to guess an occupation correctly. I think there are only 1 or 2 more Kovacs episodes. He will be missed.


    I laughed at this too. It made me wonder if they didn't find this person precisely because the related product was something that could be folded. Ernie obviously intended to keep asking this question every chance he could.

    Other occupations that would have worked are those to do with linens, greeting cards, invitations, matchbooks, paper airplanes and of course, Jack Benny's arms.
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  • Avatar of ymike673

    ymike673

    [33]Jul 12, 2005
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    A few episodes ago they had someone on who made cigars. Maybe the producers are trying to make Ernie look good.
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  • Avatar of midnitewriter

    midnitewriter

    [34]Jul 12, 2005
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    ymike673 wrote:
    Very funny moment on today's show when Ernie's standard question "Can it be folded?" was answered yes by the man who made folding beds. When Ernie said "I never thought up a follow up to my question" I just burst out laughing. I believe this was the first time that Ernie was able to guess an occupation correctly. I think there are only 1 or 2 more Kovacs episodes. He will be missed.


    This is my first time around on the What's My Line rotation on GSN and I really had no idea who Ernie Kovacs was. I'm now of the opinion that he was pure greatness. I don't mind that he doesn't play the game particularly well, there are three others who can do that, I just love what he brings to the show. I hate that there aren't many shows with him left.
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  • Avatar of Factotum1

    Factotum1

    [35]Jul 13, 2005
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    I'll bet they contrived to get a contestant, just in the hope that Ernie would ask the "Folding" question and get tons of laughs, and they were right. He was so excited he was standing up, and Arline had to tell him "Down, Boy!".It certainly made up for the unlikable Mike Todd, who couldn't stop talking about the crass party he was throwing for himself in honor of the superstar-studded turkey, "Around the World in 80 Years, er, Days".
    When Steve Allen was nearly through on the show, they found a guy that made breadboxes, in hopes that he would use his standard question, "Is it bigger than a breadbox?", but unfortunately, he didn't ask it!
    I've been laughing all along with Ernie and his irreverent disregard of the game and rules. I thought it was very funny on the 6 October program, when Mystery Guest Danny Thomas disguised his voice with a vaguely Eastern European accent, inspiring Ernie to ask if he was an artificial Earth satellite. If you're rusty on your history, the context is that the day before, it was revealed the Soviets launched such a device into outer space, where it circled the planet every 98 minutes, with a metallic pinging sound that could be monitored by scientists all over the world.Ernie also refers to this. It was also called a "New Moon", but in reality it was named "Sputnik". John Daly got in on the fun and referred to it as a "nudnik".
    The Reds got a real jump on us, and we rushed one of our own on to the launch pad in December, before the bugs were ironed out, where it promptly blew up in a humiliating fireball. It was called "Vanguard". The London Daily Express called it a "Flopnik"!
    But our next one, which was called "Explorer 1" was successfully launched in January 1958, and fortunately, we completely eclipsed the Russians in the 1960's.
    Ernie of course, lived to see only the earliest days of the space race, dying a month before John Glenn's manned orbital flight, a realm previously inhabited by animals, such as the Soviet's dog Laika, and our chimps Ham and Enos.
    Ernie always kept up with the times though, and in one of his fascinating 1961/2 ABC specials, he featured two of his own famous chimps from "The Nairobi Trio" as test apes in a rocket.They even talked to each other, the tall one being Ernie, using his Marlon Brando imitation.
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  • Avatar of victorkiam

    victorkiam

    [36]Jul 14, 2005
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    VCR/TiVO ALERT:

    20 July, Wednesday
    Fox Movie Channel 3pm EST
    (check listings for local times)

    WAKE ME WHEN IT'S OVER (1960)

    A GI talks his captain into building an island resort out of war surplus.

    ERNIE KOVACS
    Dick Shawn
    Margo Moore
    Jack Warden
    Nobu McCarthy
    Don Knotts
    2 hr., 6 min.
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  • Avatar of dad1153

    dad1153

    [37]Jul 15, 2005
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    Was today's show (with Jack Lemmon as MG) Ernie Kovacs' last appearance on 'WML?'? If that's the case it's strange that the man was such a smash as a semi-regular 'WML?' panelist for several weeks but then wouldn't come back for a visit or two prior to his untimely death in '62. What's a weekend trip from LA to NY for these people? :-(
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  • Avatar of ymike673

    ymike673

    [38]Jul 15, 2005
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    Its not that suprising. When Steve Allen left the show in Sept. 1954 he did not return to the panel for a year and a half and he was in New York all of that time! I guess Ernie had more important things on his mind then making a trip to NY to be on a game show. Had he lived I think he would have made a guest appearance but of course we will never know.
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  • Avatar of Factotum1

    Factotum1

    [39]Jul 15, 2005
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    Lemmon of course was a friend of Ernie's, and was the lead in EK's first film, OPERATION MAD BALL.
    Ernie's time spent in Hollywood was not a happy one. Casting editors had no imagination and either never watched television or resented it enough to purposely miscast Ernie as a "Captain" of some kind or another. They saw the moustache and figured he must be an authority figure, and a bad guy. Just think- the story of Mad Ball involves enlisted grunts trying to have a great big fun filled, rule breaking party on their base, against the wishes of their overbearing, by-the-book martinet CO. If you have even the slightest familiarity with Ernie Kovacs, right away you know he's the type of guy that lives to break rules and have the biggest, craziest good time he can. But they decided he was good for the miserable control freak part.
    His later roles included other "Captains", including a seagoing captain and a "Captain of Industry". He got so fed up with this mistypecasting that he took out an ad in VARIETY, begging for "NO MORE CAPTAINS" in future roles. Didn't do him much good, his final picture , SAIL A CROOKED SHIP, has Ernie as the unsober captain of said title's ship.
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  • Avatar of ymike673

    ymike673

    [40]Jul 15, 2005
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    Yes, He was miscast in just about every film he made. It's to bad he never had a role that could have demonstrated his comedic talents.
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