1. Who is the gentleman seated next to Ernie?
Answer: Bill Wendell
2. What functions did he perform on the shows where Ernie used him? Answer: Announcer and sketch man (assisted in a lot of sketches)
3. What other famous performer did this man spend years performing these services for? Answer: David Letterman
Good job Barbara! The late Bill Wendell was an NBC Television staff announcer for almost his entire career. He would play straight man to Ernie in certain sketches like "Mr. Question Man" and also act as announcer on Ernie's shows. Barbara, who once worked as an intern in TV news, had an opportunity to interview Bill. Here's her reminiscence of that experience:
To tell you the truth, when I was 20 I was all hellfire to write a book about him, but didn't have a clue how to do it. Still don't, actually!
I worked in TV news as an intern and I wrote him a letter to ask if he would talk to me. I was sitting at home one day and he called from the control room at the Letterman show! I wish to hell I'd have recorded it. I was too young to know better.
He told me a story about a skit they did where they used gallons and gallons of water and everyone was sliding all over the place while having a food fight. He said Ernie had hands "the size of canned hams" and that he could hold and throw three times what everyone else could. He said that as talented as Letterman is, no one will ever touch Ernie, and that he missed him every day.
Anyway, I was still toying with the idea when Rico came out with her book, and well, she did a fine job. Somewhere, I still have all the library research I did (now you can buy all those magazines on eBay)...copies of microfiche, etc. But Bill was the only person I talked to, and he was a really nice man, who really loved Ernie a lot
Thanks again, Barbara.
The Ernie Kovacs My Space Fan Page is up to 480 friends this week, an increase of 17 from last week. As always we thank everyone who requested an add or accepted a request from us. I'm hoping we'll hit 500 by next week!
One of our new fan page friends, "Paulie," asked me if I knew where to find the Percy Dovetonsils poem "Ode To Stanley's Pussycat." This can be found on page 135 of "The Ernie Kovacs Phile" by the late David G. Walley. This is a must have book for any true Kovacsian so pick up a copy if you don't already have one.
And now, some interesting Kovacsian articles from the news and posts from the blogosphere:
PBS is planning a special slated for 2009 about the history of television. Ernie and Edie are prominently mentioned in the article.
Laura's Miscellaneous Musings talks about the 1959 movie
"It Happened To Jane" which had Ernie as one of its stars.
Until next week, "Its Been Real!!"