Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Bill Wendell

Good day, fellow Kovacsians. Last week I asked a trivia question based on a photo in a previous trivia question. I asked the following questions which were answered by Ernie Kovacs My Space Fan Page friend and Kovacs trivia queen Barbara:

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.

Filmmaking 101 compares some of the video techniques used in the HBO
series "Flight Of The Conchords" as being similar to those pioneered by Ernie.

Laura's Miscellaneous Musings talks about the 1959 movie
"It Happened To Jane" which had Ernie as one of its stars.

Here's a very creative and interesting take on the tilted room bit that Ernie used in "The Silent Show" ("Eugene"). Apparently its by an Australian comic named Shaun Micallef.

Until next week, "Its Been Real!!"


PeterH said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog and for the mention. The only real job I ever had was at the Museum of Broadcast Communications when they opened and I got to see lots of old Ernie Kovacs shows. He is maybe the most under appreciated of all the early TV greats.


geomop said...


Agreed. I finally got to see "Flight Of The Conchords" last night and I definitely get your Ernie angle on it. That's some funny stuff.

Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

What a fantastic blog! I've been an Ernie Kovacs fan since the summer of 1977 and can't get enough of the man. He inspired me to get in to video production. Over the years I have had the good fortune of speaking to Bill Wendell, David Whalley and Edie Adams about Ernie's legacy and he still inspires after all these years.

Dear Mr. Question Man,
Are they ever going to release "Kovacs On Music" on video?

All the best,
Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

geomop said...


Thanks for the kind words. I really appreciate it.

Some of the great Kovacs musical bits can be found on "The Best Of Ernie Kovacs" two DVD set. I'm not quite sure if you get the whole "Kovacs On Music" but you get the "Swan Lake" ballet with the Gorillas among other great musical pieces. The link above will take you to the Amazon page for the DVDs.

Thanks again for stopping by.