Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Twas The Night Before Christmas…Dovetonsils-Style

The classic holiday poem was given a Percy Dovetonsils treatment by Ernie, and was published in the December 1961 issue of Playboy Magazine. Ernie also recorded it in the fall of that year for the Dovetonsils LP he did for Vanguard, which was never released (but master tapes survive).

Pour yourthelf thum thnappth, thnuggle up to the hearth in your thartreuthe theerthucker drething gown, and warm yourthelf with thith little bon mot --

*******************
THAT HOARY
HOLIDAY CHESTNUT
IS GIVEN A
PARK AVENUE
TWIST

by
ERNIE "PERCY LLEWELYN DOVETONSILS" KOVACS

'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the duplex
Just a valet was pressing (a glen plaid with blue checks).
The nylons were hung by the chimney with care
C.O.D. from I. Magnin's (the bill was still there).

The boys home from prep school all snug in their beds,
While visions of Marilyn danced in their heads.
And Mumms in her Bergdorf and I in my Saks
Lay in Louis XIV (whose first name was Max).

When up in the penthouse there arose such a clatter
I summoned the butler, asked, "What was the matter?"
I ran through the room in a 40 yard sprint,
Pulled up the venetians and leaned out to squint.

The moon on the sidewalks of chic Sutton Place
Gave the color of liver to the old doorman's face.
When what to my wond'ring eyes did appear
But a Mercedes-Benz pulling up in high gear!

With a cute little driver so lively and quick
I knew 'twas the chauffeur of Jolly Saint Nick!
More rapid than Jags, his convertible came
And he whistled and shouted and called it by name.

"Now Stupid! Now Junk-heap! Now Bucket of Bolts!
Look out for those taxis! (Those drivers are dolts!)
Look out for the porch! Look out for the wall!
Whatever you do, Mercedes don't stall!"

As strollers 'fore taxis and buses do fly,
He hit a poor cop and knocked him sky high.
Then up to the duplex the convertible flew,
With a trunk full of toys and St. Nicholas, too.

And then in a twinkling like a fast-driving heiress,
He slammed on the brakes and parked on the terrace!
As I drew on my Homburg and was turning around
Down the stone fireplace Santa came with a bound!

He was dressed all in cashmere from his head to his foot.
Abercrombie & Fitch was stamped on each boot.
He had a Hathaway shirt -- and was looking quite dudie
As he took genteel puffs on a meerschaum Kaywoodie.

His Cavanaugh hat and bright Argyle socks
Matched the fur on his suit which was ermine, not fox.
His beard was white mink -- a right jolly old elf
And I laughed at his spats, in spite of myself.

But a look at his tie (shantung and in red!)
And I wished that I'd stood all snug in my bed.
He spoke not a word but went straight to his work
And drove Sardi's caterer fairly berserk.

He ate like a demon as he trimmed up the tree--
Pheasant, hors d'ouevres and lobster gelée.
In a fine linen hankie he blew on his nose,
Sucked in his tummy -- up the chimney he rose.

His driver was snoozing, a lovely young dame.
She woke with a smile when he called her by name.
Come Gina, Bambina, it's time for linguini --
But first to the Stork Club, a real dry martini.

He saw me and hollered ere he whizzed out of sight --
"I'll bill you next month for my labors tonight!"

OUR OWN BEN MODEL GIVES US HIS INTERPRETATION OF THE POEM "A LA DOVETONSILS".
PRINT OUT THE POEM AND FOLLOW ALONG:


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Kovacs Christmas List


 ED. NOTE, JULY 10, 2012: 

The last update to this page was made on the date above.  With the recent release of so much new Kovacs material it has become impractical to keep updating this page so this will be the last one.  There is still relevant information here so feel free to look.  This is where I list all of the films Ernie appeared in so you can search for them online. For the most up to date information on Ernie Kovacs and Edie Adams merchandise visit the links page at "Ernie Kovacs Dot Net: A Tribute To Television's Original Genius."
 
It's that holiday time of year again and you're probably saying to yourself "Gee, what great Ernie Kovacs gifts can I get for a loved one?" Or if you're your own most loved one then get them for yourself!

"The Ernie Kovacs Collection" 6 DVD set, released on April 19, 2011, is the most comprehensive collection of video available to date. This is a must have for the diehard fan or anyone interested in Ernie’s work. Click the preceding link to learn more about this landmark set and to find out how you can order your copy. It will make a fantastic holiday gift!

Let's start out with some links to Ernie Kovacs items on the sites of various online retailers and auctioneers (if you have other sites let us know by posting a comment):

Ernie Kovacs At Amazon

Ernie Kovacs At Best Buy

Ernie Kovacs On Ebay

Ernie Kovacs At Powell's Books

You can also visit Barnes And Noble and search for "Ernie Kovacs"; for some reason I couldn't get the site to generate a direct search link that would work. They do, however, carry plenty of Kovacsian items.

Now for some descriptions of what to look for. In some cases I've provided direct links to specific Ernie items:

There is "The Best Of Ernie Kovacs" 2 DVD set that you can purchase (if you visit amazon.com you can also get the VHS tapes though we suggest the DVDs as they are better quality and have extras). (ED. NOTE, 8/8/2010: This title has gone out of print since the time of this post. Visit the links page at Ernie Kovacs Dot Net and look in the "Videos" section for links to sites where you may be able to acquire a used copy.)

For some great holiday fireside reading pick up a copy of Diana Rico's wonderful book "Kovacsland" which Ms. Rico suggests you buy from Powell's Books. The late great David Walley wrote the fantastic "Ernie Kovacs Phile" (an alternate title is "Nothing In Moderation: A Biography Of Ernie Kovacs") which you can find from most booksellers or used book dealers.

Ernie had two books of his own; "Zoomar" and "How To Talk At Gin." These are most easily found by searching those titles at Amazon and EBay where you will be able to obtain them used.

Edie Adams also wrote a book called Sing a Pretty Song: The Offbeat Life of Edie Adams, Including the Ernie Kovacs Years. The link here is to Amazon which seems to be the only retailer who carries it. I've read it and its very interesting; its a look at Edie's life and a perspective on Ernie from the person who knew him the most intimately.

There's a book I have called "The Vision Of Ernie Kovacs" which I had obtained from the The Paley Center For Media (known back then as "The Museum Of TV And Radio) in New York City. I also had a t-shirt and poster from the retrospective they based the book on. I don't have the t-shirt or poster anymore but I still have the book and its great. Usually you can find a copy on EBay. Look around for it; the book offers some great scholarly analysis of Ernie's work. If you can find the t-shirt and poster let me know; I'd love to replace the ones I lost! (ED NOTE: You can now buy the book and the t-shirt directly through the parent site of this blog, Ernie Kovacs Dot Net. Click the link for more details).

For the music fan there are "The Ernie Kovacs Album" released in 1976 on Columbia Records and "The Ernie Kovacs Record Collection" on July 15, 1997 on the Varese Sarabande label; the latter can still be found although its expensive and your best bet for the former is to search EBay and other auction sites.

Then of course there are the movies Ernie appeared in which are listed below chronologically along with an IMDB link where you can get a plot description. You can search for these on any site where you buy films and find them:
  1. Operation Mad Ball (1957)

  2. Bell Book And Candle (1958)

  3. It Happened To Jane (1959)

  4. Our Man In Havana (1960)

  5. Wake Me When It's Over (1960)

  6. Strangers When We Meet (1960)

  7. North To Alaska (1960)

  8. Pepe (1960)

  9. Five Golden Hours (1961)

  10. Sail A Crooked Ship (1962)

Episode 13 of The Lucy Desi Comedy Hour (click the link for the DVD on Amazon) was titled "Lucy Meets The Moustache" and is famous because it was the last time Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz ever appeared in a show together (Lucy filed for divorce the day after shooting ended). Ernie and Edie starred in this episode. The release of this DVD collection of all 13 episodes in 2007 marked the end of a long period where the Ernie/Edie episode was NOT available; the other 12 episodes were easily obtainable in one form or another. This makes a great gift because you get to see Ernie and Edie in a historic program and you get 12 other episodes and extras!

Just to give you an idea of what you're getting here's a clip of Edie performing in the Ricardo's home in Westport, Connecticut (OK, it was a Desilu Studios in Hollywood but its SUPPOSED to be Connecticut):


Many times you will find Ernie tidbits on EBay that are bootlegs; old kinescopes someone is selling of shows like "Kovacs On The Corner" or "Silents Please." While I don't endorse this I won't say it doesn't exist. What I will say is be careful; they're not always the greatest quality and as far as giving them as gifts is concerned the packaging never looks great nor do the contents.

Well my fellow Kovacsians that is the Kovacs Christmas List. I hope you've found it helpful. And now on to some other Kovacsian points of interest:

The Ernie Kovacs My Space Fan Page is up to 847 friends this week. We thank everyone who requested an add or accepted a request from us.

Here are a couple of interesting and fairly recent news stories that involve Ernie albeit indirectly:

New City Neighbors Oppose O&R's Plan To Build Substation ( I know; you're wondering how can this involve Ernie? Just click the link will ya? We haven't steered you wrong yet, have we?)

Comedy Writer Irving Brecher Dies At The Age Of 94

On behalf of Ben Model and myself here is wishing all Ernie Kovacs fans everywhere the most joyous and wonderful holiday season and a most spectacular 2009! We thank all of you very kindly and are most grateful for your support of our continuing efforts to keep alive the legacy of the great Ernie Kovacs.

And as always, in closing, I bid you a fond and heartfelt "It's Been Real!" - Al Quagliata


ADDITIONAL NOTES (ADDED AFTER THE ORIGINAL DATE OF THIS POST)

Here are three new DVDs we've come across in the last year that have EK in them:

Bob Hope: The Ultimate Collection

Producers Showcase: Festival Of Magic

"OUR MAN IN HAVANA" from BARNES AND NOBLE and also from AMAZON.

And from www.erniekovacs.net there's "The Vision Of Ernie Kovacs" Book and T-Shirt ; two hard to find items which are a great addition to your "Kovacs Chrismtas List"!

In April of 2010, Andy Horton's book on Ernie was released. Here are links to his page and different sites where you can obtain this title:

ANDY HORTON AUTHOR OF
"ERNIE KOVACS & EARLY TV COMEDY: NOTHING IN MODERATION"
ALSO AVAILABLE FROM AMAZON AND BARNES AND NOBLE


On Tuesday, July 10, 2012 it was announced that "Shout! Factory" will release "The Ernie Kovacs Collection: Volume 2"
3 DVD set, consisting of some very interesting material not included on Volume 1, including the television pilot "The Medicine Man (A Pony For Chris)," which Ernie completed right before his untimely passing. The set must be ordered directly from "Shout! Factory" to receive a fourth bonus DVD containing seven full episodes of Ernie’s classsic game show, "Take A Good Look." You can pre-order the set directly from here by clicking the preceding link. To learn more about the contents of this new DVD set, visit The Ernie Kovacs Blog.

On January 23, 2012 (Ernie’s birthday) Omnivore Recordings announced they will soon be releasing "Percy Dovetonsils Thpeaks," a previously unreleased comedy album featuring Kovacs’ best–known and beloved character, originally recorded in 1961. Omnivore also plans to release other audio material from the Kovacs archive in the future.

Above we mentioned "The Ernie Kovacs Collection" 6 DVD set, released on April 19, 2011, the most comprehensive collection of video available to date. This is a must have for the diehard fan or anyone interested in Ernie’s work. On April 17, 2012, disc 5 is being released as "Ernie Kovacs: The ABC Specials," and is now available for pre – order. Click the preceding link to learn more about this landmark set and to find out how you can order your copy.

It's also necessary to point out that in 2012 some selections of Ernie’s work have been made available on Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and iTunes. You can find links to these in the video section of the links pag e on my main website, www.erniekovacs.net.


Happy Holidays!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Kovacs Images From Life Posted Online

A friend of mine found something on Google images related to Kovacs. Life Magazine has posted, in somewhat hi-res, images of Ernie Kovacs from its collection. Most of these are photos by Ralph Morse from the April 15, 1957 cover story, but a few – like a few alternate versions of the color photo of Ernie in front of a television camera (image at right is one of them) – are new to my eyes.

Click here to go to Life's page on Google images to see all of these.

It's still been real...

Ben

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Ernie Kovacs DVD Box Set To Be Released In 2009

"Hold everything...don't nobody move!!" There's big news for Ernie Kovacs fans…real big news. A new DVD box set of Kovacs programs is slated for release in 2009.

Koch Entertainment and the Archive of American Television have banded together to launch a new series of DVD's called The Archive of American Television Presents. The first release is a box set called The Studio One Anthology, which contains 17 episodes of the landmark live drama series Studio One. The set came out last week, on November 8th. Their next release will be the 1959 TV adaptation of Budd Schulberg's What Makes Sammy Run. Click on the link above for the AAT to see more about these and to watch a trailer for the Studio One set.

Also in the works is a DVD box set of Ernie Kovacs programs. I have been hired to curate the set, which will contain 15 hours of Ernie Kovacs shows, plus bonus extras.

I've been involved with the project for about a year, although things have become more official and in motion in the last few months (that's why you're only hearing about this now). I've screened a lot of material, visited Edie Adams' film/tape storage facility in L.A. and inspected kinescopes, done research at the Paley Center in N.Y., and looked at rare Kovacs materials found by private collectors.

There is no "street date" slated for the DVD set, but the release will happen sometime during 2009, possibly as early as the middle of the year. It's a little early to talk about specifically what will be on the set at this point. I will post updates here and on my site erniekovacs.info as things are remastered, confirmed and locked in as DVD content.

Edie was to have had a creative hand in helping select the programs on the set, and I was really looking forward to working with her on this. I miss her and hope that the set does justice to all the hard work she put in (since the 1960s!) to save kinescopes, videotape masters, scripts et al of Ernie Kovacs' amazing work.

-- Ben Model


EDITOR'S NOTE, FRIDAY, APRIL 10 2009: I'm sad to report that this project has been put on hold. Click here to read more.-
Al Quagliata

Friday, October 31, 2008

Rats In My Room

WFMU's blog site posts MP3's of many many of the LP's from their collection. I found today that the entire album "Music To Suffer By", recorded by Leona Anderson — whose immortal "Fish" and "Rats in My Room" were Kovacs show staples — are posted there.

Click here to go to the WFMU blog page for the album, where you can listen to and or download the entire album as well as see hi-res images of the front and back of the LP sleeve. The back has liner notes and photos of the recording session.

Happy Halloween!

Ben Model, in NYC

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Good Ol' Officer Boyle Of The EEFMS

Good evening Kovacsians. When Edie Adams passed away last week I sent an email to our good friend Jack Phillippe, who grew up in Philadelphia and as a young man was a guest on a January 1952 episode of "Kovacs On The Corner."

Hearing of Edie's passing made Jack reminisce about growing up in Philly during the 1950's and watching the great television shows of that time. He wanted to share some artifacts from his collection with all of us and has been gracious enough to take the time to send me some scans.

The first is of an EEFMS card; it's an original from Ernie's very first show on WPTZ Channel Three, NBC in Philadelphia, "3 To Get Ready." Jack sent this once before and I posted it, but this time its a bit bigger and clearer. Enjoy:

One staple of Philadelphia televison in the 1950s was Officer Pete Boyle, played by that icon of Philadelphia Kids' TV Peter Boyle Sr.. Pete Sr. was the father of the late actor Peter Boyle Jr. most recently of "Everybody Loves Raymond" fame. "Offcier Pete Boyle" appeared in his own shows on WPTZ and many times as a guest on Ernie's. In fact, he played his "Officer Boyle" character the day that Jack appeared as a guest on "KOTC!"

Jack went to high school with Peter Boyle Jr. in the 1950s and Peter was an actor even back then. These photos are some extracts from a playbill that Jack kept from his high school days; they're for a musical called "Song Of Norway" in which the young Mr. Boyle appeared.

A very young Peter Boyle (a far cry from Frank Barone!):

Here he is on the cast list (even in high school it seems he had an understudy):


Peter Boyle Sr. hosted a very well known kids show in Philly called "Chuckwagon Pete" in which played the title character. Here's an ad he took out in the playbill:

You can click on the "Peter Boyle Sr." link above to see a photo of "Chuck Wagon Pete" and read more about the show.

Jack, thanks again for some great memories.

Until next time, "it's been real!"

AL QUAGLIATA

P.S.- The Ernie Kovacs My Space Fan Page is up to 828 friends since our last post. As always we thank everyone who requested an add or accepted a request from us. We also thank you for the nice comments sent about Edie.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Edie Adams Passes Away At The Age Of 81


It is with great sadness that fans everywhere mourn the death of the wonderful Ms. Edie Adams, who passed away on October 15th, 2008 at the age of 81. According to her son Josh Mills the cause of death was cancer and pneumonia.

My fellow Kovacs Blogger Ben Model took the time today to compile some information which I've taken and consolidated into this post. Thanks Ben.

Here's you go folks, courtesy of Ben Model:

Edie Adams' obituary appears in today's New York Times, written by Bruce Weber. To read it, click here.

Among Edie's major accomplishments, although not mentioned in the obit, is the fact that she spent decades saving and hunting down Kovacs programs...scripts, kinescopes, 2" master tapes etc etc. She was an amazing woman, full of life and always working on some project or other, and she will be missed.

Here's a link to an obit posted on Playbill.com and another on Theatermania.com.

For the story as posted by the AP click here

Here's Edie's performance on the 1950 Miss U.S. Television program. She had won that title and this was her first major television exposure:



Ben Model

It's the end of an era my fellow Kovacsians.

Rest in peace Edie and say hi to Ernie for us. It's been real.

Al Quagliata

Monday, October 13, 2008

Al Wein Sculpture Exhibit In Boston


Albert Wein (1915-1991), who did set design for some of Ernie's ABC specials, has a career retrospective at the Boston Athenaeum, running through the end of November. Entitled "Albert Wein: American Modernist," the exhibit showcases more than 50 of his classic sculptures, paintings and medals. The use of sculptures and special props like that are in quite a few of the 1961 programs, and I'm sure the sculpture of a woman with a hole in her stomach being carved by Miklos Molnar was one of Wein's creations. There's a link to an article on the retrospective here, and the museum's website is here.

The photograph is of a sculpture of Bacchus by Wein hung in Ernie's wine cellar.

Ben Model

EDITOR'S NOTE:

Ben, thanks for a great post. I want to add that back in December of 2006 sculptor Michael Keropian let me know about the website for Al Wein. Michael worked for Al and as far as I know is still involved with his art work. This is a great site and I strongly suggest that all Kovacs fans pay a visit!


Al Quagliata

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Eugene on ABC

Here's a nice still I picked up on eBay recently. Caught my eye because of Ernie's "Eugene" costume (the shoes are a dead give-away, even if Kovacs isn't wearing the hat). Flanking Ernie are Bobbie Lauher and Maggie Brown, who were part of the ensemble cast for the ABC specs.

At right is the memo from ABC's photo department, attached to the photo, showing the program's airdate and time.

It's been real!

Ben

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Cooking Up Some "Hammes" With Miklos: Trivia!!

Good evening my fellow Kovacsians.

The Ernie Kovacs My Space Fan Page is up to 741 friends and as always we thank everyone who requested an add or accepted a request from us. I'd love it to hit 1,000 members by the end of the summer if possible; we're up 16 from our last post so we're on the way, albeit a small way.

Our fellow Kovacsian, friend and trivia buff, John Hammes of The UGA Science Library at The University Of Georgia, has sent us yet another fantastic trivia quiz. You may remember the last one which involved Ernie and Jack Benny; this promises to be even MORE difficult and of course I'm grateful to John as it means that I don't have to think of a new one myself! Thank you John!
This trivia involves that classic Kovacsian character, master Hungarian chef "Miklos Molnar" who, contrary to popular belief, did not always appear as a chef in Ernie's sketches. Here are John's questions:

1. Miklos Molnar was not restricted to a cooking show...name another genre "lucky" enough to claim him.

2. What then current show was Ernie lampooning?

3. Miklos kept a pair of shears handy; how did this help him interact with the show's co-star?

For Extra Credit: Give Miklos' version of this show's title and describe in what state Miklos interacted with members of the show's audience.

Here's a hint in case your having trouble; John saw this on the A&E Biography which was done on Ernie and broadcast almost exactly ten years ago; June 23, 1988 to be exact. The link will bring you to the one page I found where you can purchase the VHS which is Amazon; A&E's website was no help. Hopefully you have a copy.

You can submit answers to the questions in any one of the following ways:

1. Post your answers here in the comments section.
2. Send your answers to me through the Ernie Kovacs My Space Fan Page.
3. Email your answers to me by clicking HERE.

I'll announce the winner in a future post so get to it!

Before I leave you today I'd like to share a very interesting video clip I found of Ernie on a 1957 episode of the game show "What's My Line?"; Ernie was a frequent panelist and actually used to do his own spoof called "Where Do You Work-a John?" Unfortunately I've never seen that and I don't think anyone else in the present day has as its not on any video collections I've encountered.

Thanks once again for stopping by and until we meet again "Its Been Real!"

Friday, June 6, 2008

Going Back To The Corner With Kovacs

Good evening my fellow Kovacsians. Just a few tidbits of info for you tonight.

The Ernie Kovacs My Space Fan Page is up to 725 friends and as always we thank everyone who requested an add or accepted a request from us. It seems that the friend requests for the Fan Page have started to level off so I hope you'll encourage your friends to contact us if they haven't. I'd love it to hit 1,000 members by the end of the summer if possible.

I ran a piece on May 23rd called "Hanging Out On The Corner With Kovacs" in which I interviewed my friend from Pennsylvania, Mr. Jack Phillippe, about his appearance on a January, 1952 episode of "Kovacs On The Corner." Unfortunately I didn't have the photos I would liked to have run so I put up a pic of the street sign for Ernie Kovacs Street in Ernie's hometown of Trenton, New Jersey. I figured that would indicate the idea of "corner" well enough as the sign is at the corner of Stockton Street.

Well, Kovacsians, I have since acquired some photos that supplement the interview nicely and I'd like to share them with you. Better late than never is my motto. I couldn't have done this without Jack's help so thanks Jack!!

Here's a compilation of photos from the episode of "KOTC" on which Jack appeared:

Jack also has his original membership card in the "EEFMS" which was Ernie's fan club. He made me a copy and I've scanned it to share with you. I've shown photos of these cards before which have been sent to me by Ernie fans. The difference in this case is that those were from Ernie's days in NYC; this is an original card from his very first show on WPTZ Channel Three, NBC in Philadelphia, "3 To Get Ready." Enjoy, as I'm sure very few of these still exist:

Thanks for your help Jack and for taking us on this wonderful trip down memory lane!

Moving on to other news Kovacsians. My good friend and contributor to this blog, Ben "Undercrank" Model, is an expert on silent film (when you get a chance click on the link and you'll see what I mean). Ben sent me the following email:

A suggestion for the blog: you have the sub-head "A blog devoted to the Charlie Chaplin of Television, the late great Ernie Kovacs!"

I think of Kovacs as more a Buster Keaton than a Chaplin. BK used the medium of film in ways that Chaplin never bothered with, and occasionally called attention to the fact that you were watching a film. You might consider revising this. Just my $0.02...
Great idea Ben! Your $0.02 has been accepted and the sub-head has been changed. No offense to Mr. Chaplin if he's up there looking down at this...

I'd like to leave you with a couple of internet pieces I found enjoyable. The first is from the blog Boomerville, USA and it offers up some video of the infamous "Nairobi Trio." The second is a wonderful video celebrating the many years in television of station WIVB-TV. This Buffalo, New York station, which also broadcast Ernie's shows, did some wonderfully creative and original programs of their own during television's golden age. You won't see any Ernie material in the piece but its well worth watching. If only television were like this today!

Thanks for stopping by my friends and until we meet again I bid you a very heartfelt "It's Been Real!"

Friday, May 23, 2008

Hanging Out On The Corner With Kovacs

Good evening my fellow Kovacsians. Its been a while since last we spoke.

The very fact that I create these posts devoted to my favorite television comedian affords me the opportunity to connect with people who themselves had a connection with Ernie Kovacs in the past. One of these people, a gentleman in the truest sense of the word, is 71 year old lifelong Pennsylvania resident Jack Phillippe.

Jack sent me an email recently stating that back in 1949 at the ripe old age of thirteen he appeared on an episode of Ernie's very first show for WPTZ Channel Three, NBC in Philadelphia, the famous "3 To Get Ready," for which no known kinescopes exist. He appeared in a "trading post" segment in which Ernie would exchange some useless item an audience member gave him for some equally useless item from the prop box or backstage.

What struck me immediately when I read Jack's email was that I had seen his segment and it wasn't on "3 To Get Ready." It was on Ernie's program "Kovacs On The Corner," the final Kovacs series to originate from WPTZ before Ernie made the big jump to New York. The show had a very short run from Thursday January 4, 1952 until Friday March 28 of the same year and was broadcast nationally Monday-Friday in the 11am-11:30am time slot. The show would open with the announcer saying "NBC holds the key to WPTZ's very own television town where everyday around this time you'll find Kovacs On The Corner!" Then, as on all his shows no matter the title, Ernie's famous theme music would start.

"KOTC" featured Ernie against a corny "neighborhood" type set (think a low rent Sesame Street) interacting with the lovely Edie Adams, The Dave Appell Trio dressed as sanitation workers, a couple of actors dressed as a large dog (Al) and a large cat (Tondelaya) and Officer Pete Boyle, played by that icon of Philadelphia Kids' TV Peter Boyle Sr.. Pete Sr. was the father of the late actor Peter Boyle Jr. most recently of "Everybody Loves Raymond" fame.

I was in one of the massive chain bookstores about ten years ago looking for jazz CDs when I spotted a video tape from the now defunct "Video Yesteryear" of a "KOTC" episode. The tape jumped out at me when I saw Ernie's mug on the box and I bought it right away. When I got home and put it on I was fascinated by it; the show is early TV kitsch at its best delivered in that inimitable Kovacs style. I've read that Ernie was never a big fan of doing the show; the network kind of forced it on him and interacting with costumed characters wasn't really a format he enjoyed. Still its funny, its Kovacs, and luckily for Jack Phillippe the one episode he appeared on is the one episode that you can still get a hold of.

Jack was right that he appeared on camera to trade something with Ernie; I remember Ernie trying several times in the segment to pronounce his last name correctly and when I saw the name in his first email to me I thought, "No, that's 'Kovacs On The Corner' you were on!"

I asked Jack to answer some questions for us about the experience. Here's what he had to say:

Q: Welcome to "The Ernie Kovacs Blog" Jack. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

A: I grew up in Philadelphia in the forties. After graduating high school and college prep I moved on to several jobs, until I landed a job with the Philadelphia Inquirer and stayed there for thirty one years until my retirement.

Q: Tell us how you first become aware of Ernie Kovacs.

A: The first family television was purchased in 1948 and at that time Philadelphia had three television stations, one of them being WPTZ. Ernie Kovacs first television show was on WPTZ in the morning called "Three To Get Ready". At that time, I became an Ernie Kovacs fan and I also loved "Howdy Doody". Ernie had a club on "Three To Get Ready" that included a membership card, I still have mine some fifty eight years later. It is called an EEFMS (Early Eyeball Fraternal And Marching Society) card.

EDITOR'S NOTE: CLICK THE LINK TO SEE A PICTURE OF AN "EEFMS."

Q: What did you think the first time you saw one of Ernie's shows?

A: I was enamored with Ernie and his show, so much so that I wanted to join his show very much like a child wants to run away to the circus. I wrote to him telling him so; of course he never responded and in a way I did not expect him to.

Q: How did you end up in the audience of "Kovacs On The Corner?" I believe you were sick at the time and being home schooled?

A: I was out of school at that time with rheumatic fever and was being taught at home. One day I asked my mother if I could go down to the show; she said yes. Believe it or not you did not need tickets then. Back then mothers were homemakers and fathers worked so television stations were hoping someone would show up to be a part of their audience.

Q: What did you think of Ernie when you met him? How about Edie and the rest of the cast members?

A: Ernie stays in my memory more than anything or anyone else but I do remember Edie Adams eyes and were taken aback by their beauty. Ernie was what he was, that is he was Ernie Kovacs on television as well as in person; likable and lovable.

Q: Tell us about the bit you did with Ernie. I know you guys exchanged some really "valuable" gifts with each other!

A: At that time Ernie had what I remember as what was called a "trading corner" as a part of his show and asked his viewing audience to bring something to the show for a trade.

One morning at home I got out of bed and went to the hall closet where the family's coats were kept and I spotted a "derby hat". It seems that the night before my parents had some of my relatives in for a party and the drinking got heavy and so it seems someone forgot their derby hat. When my mother got up that morning I asked if she knew who owned the derby hat? She stated that she did not.

That's when I decided to go to Ernie's show and trade the derby hat. I might add two weeks later my uncle Sam called and asked my mother if he had left his derby hat there. My mother responded that she did not see it and of course she was not lying; she didn't because it was now in Ernie Kovacs' possession. I might add I half remember Ernie cutting the top off of the derby hat and gluing a piece of paper on its inside that said "Hi ya doll!" It was, he said, "an easy way to pick a up a girl."

I received block of ice as a trade for the derby. Who else but Ernie could come up with that? I do not know if it shows on my face but when I received the block of ice I was disappointed. I wanted something that I could keep for years such as an old fashioned 1890's shoe that was on the set to be traded; in it was a single flower. I couldn't keep the ice but I was able to keep the plastic apron it was wrapped in and I was happy to be a part of TV history!

Q: Peter Boyle Sr. was an icon of Philly TV in the 1950s and played Officer Pete Boyle on "KOTC". He was the father of the late actor Peter Boyle Jr., most recently famous for his portrayal of Frank Barone on the CBS sitcom ""Everybody Loves Raymond." You got to watch the shows of both Ernie and Pete growing up at that time and I know you attended high school with Pete Jr. Tell us a bit about those two Philly icons.

A: Pete Sr. was the weatherman at WPTZ and also had a show where he was called "Chuck Wagon Pete" it was a kids show. Pete Sr. was an artist and used that talent for his kids show.

Peter Boyle Jr. was in high school at the time I was given the OK to return to high school. Both Peter Boyle and I attended the same high school; at that time Peter was a senior and I a freshman. Peter Boyle was in the school plays but not top billing. I still have the play bill that has a picture of Peter Boyle with hair when he was just another senior. Sadly both Pete Sr. and Peter died suddenly.

Q: Did you continue watching Ernie's shows after he left Philly and as you matured into adulthood?

A: Yes, I followed his career until he entered films. Movies just were not Ernie's vehicle.

Q: How did you feel when Ernie died? I believe you were about 25 years old at the time.

A: I was outside doing something to the car then and had the car radio on when they announced his death. I was stunned; it was like losing a friend. I often think about him and the pleasure he brought to those who watched his style of comedy. Yes, I was twenty five then and if I remember right he was killed in January, the same month as my birthday.

EDITOR'S NOTE: ERNIE WAS KILLED ON JANUARY 13, 1962.


When Jack answered these questions he had not had a chance to see the episode he appeared on; he answered completely from his own memories of that time. I can tell you this Kovacsians; he did a great job!

Since that time he's had a chance to see the episode on which he appeared:

I never did see it because I was on the program at the time and these shows weren't re-run as in those days programs of this type were broadcast live. I was surprised that it was on national television and that a kinescope copy was made but the more I think about it, I believe that the kinescope copy was probably made just for the west coast.

It is hard to describe seeing yourself 56 years later as a kid. I often have wondered how the likes of Shirley Temple felt, when she watched her self grow up on the screen? I do wish my parents were here to see it. I just want to thank you for your knowledge and assistance in providing me with ability to obtain this little piece of personal history about myself.
Thank you Jack for answering my questions and for being a part of Kovacsian history!

I will leave you with a quick link to an interesting article from September 1955 about Ernie's genius for special effects.

Until next time, my friends, "Its Been Real!!"

Monday, May 5, 2008

June 20: Edie Adams Flicks On TCM

Just a head zup -- movies with Edie Adams are the Prime Time Feature on Turner Classic Movies on June 20th in the evening. Wind up your TiVo, clean your VCR heads and blow the dust off your wire recorder for:
  • 8pm - The Best Man (1964), with Henry Fonda and Cliff Robertson
  • 10pm - Lover Come Back (1961), with Doris Day, Rock Hudson and Tony Randall
  • 12pm - Love With the Proper Stranger (1964), with Steve McQueen, Natalie Wood and Tom Bosley.
Click here for schedule details on TCM's site, with links to film info (cast, synopsis etc).

Monday, April 28, 2008

A New Film About The Life Of Ernie Kovacs?

Good afternoon my fellow Kovacsians.

I just found a very interesting article I wanted to share with you entitled "Edie Adams' Memories Of 'The Apartment'." It was written by Ruthe Stein for the San Francisco Chronicle's Sunday, April 6, 2008 edition.

The writer interviews Edie about the making of the Billy Wilder film in which she played the vindictive Miss Olsen, nosy secretary to a high-level boss at a large Manhattan insurance company. The boss was played by Fred MacMurray.

I enjoyed this interview and know my fellow Kovacs Fans will too. But this is the question and answer I found the most intriguing and it has to do with another film entirely:

Q: I understand you are hoping to get another movie made about your late husband. (There was a 1984 TV movie, "Ernie Kovacs: Between the Laughter," starring Jeff Goldblum.)

A:
That's true, but I'm not supposed to talk about it. We're trying to get George Clooney to play him.
Wow. Wouldn't that be something? I've seen the Goldblum film and have always admired his performance. My problem with that film, however, was that the storyline mainly dealt with the kidnapping of Ernie's daughters by their mother, Ernie's first wife Bette Wilcox. It did not spend nearly enough time on all the great things Ernie pioneered in television which were treated almost as a side note. That's what happens when something is "made for TV"; you get all the sensationalism and none of the substance. Its not that the kidnappings weren't a major or important part of Ernie's story; its just that they're not the only part and audiences learned very little of the man from watching this film.

Therefore its high time that a movie be made about Ernie that really explores his life and legacy and of course it ought to be a major theatrical release and not just TV fare. And who better than George Clooney to play the lead? That would be a great box office draw and would introduce Ernie and his work to an entirely new generation that might not be familiar with him.

I think Clooney would make a great Kovacs; he's an excellent actor and has already proven he can do a great job with these projects about TV's bygone days as both director and actor; just take a look at "Good Night, And Good Luck" and "Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind".

So let's keep our fingers crossed my fellow Kovacsians. And while we're doing that let's all wish a happy belated birthday to Edie who was born on April 16th.

The Ernie Kovacs My Space Fan Page is up to 715 friends, an increase of 35 since our last post. As always we thank everyone who requested an add or accepted a request from us.

Until next time my fellow Kovacsians, "Its Been Real!"

Monday, March 17, 2008

Ernie The Grizzled Old Miner

Good afternoon my fellow Kovacsians. I'll start off by saying that the Ernie Kovacs My Space Fan Page is up to 680 friends, an increase of 4 since our last post. As always we thank everyone who requested an add or accepted a request from us.

I also need to mention that no one, not even my best "Kovacsian Trivia Answer-ers," has been able to answer all the question from our last quiz. Its a tough one; even yours truly couldn't get it. Give it a shot if you're brave enough. I'm going to let a few more weeks go by before I post the answers to give some more folks a chance to answer.

In our last entry I had a link to a blog post about the old TV western Shotgun Slade which starred actor Scott Brady in the title role. I found this post interesting because:

1. I'm a big fan of old TV westerns and had never heard of this one.
2. Ernie is the guest star in the pilot episode.

The pilot episode of this show was called "The Salted Mine" and it actually aired on March 27, 1959, as part of the "Schlitz Playhouse Of Stars," an anthology series of that era. In it Ernie plays a grizzled old miner named "Hack" (he tells Shotgun "Hack Berry's the whole of it." At least that's what I think he says...) who owns the "Hack Mine," which is located "over the hill a piece."

I'm not going to go into a long winded description of the series or the episode. That's because you can click on the links above to learn more about the show and its lead actor. And you can watch the actual pilot episode with Ernie below:

Its important to realize that before becoming a radio and then TV personality Ernie had trained to be a stage actor. His mentor was his high school drama professor Harold Van Kirk and he also acted in summer stock and studied drama in New York City. He was quite the excellent character actor as you can see from watching this program. Comics like Ernie have the ability to really inhabit and make you believe the characters they play, whether comedic or dramatic.

I sincerely hope you enjoyed the episode and I apologize for the quality. My goal in all the Ernie pages I run is to expose you to things about his career that you may not have known about or seen and I hope this has fit the bill!

Thanks once again for stopping by and until we meet again "Its Been Real!"

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Some Kovacsian Jack Benny Trivia

Good afternoon fellow Kovacsians. I receive many nice emails from folks who enjoy our various Kovacsian websites. Here's one I received today from John Hammes of The UGA Science Library at The University Of Georgia:

Thank you for all you are doing. A lot of people can now receive greetings from Ernie Kovacs "over your internet tube"! His work is so superior to today's programming, and a quick visit to "his" web pages makes a lousy day much better. Many, many thanks!

Well, John, thank you for visiting! Its my pleasure and I certainly echo your sentiments.

It turns out that John is quite the Jack Benny fan and he had an idea for a trivia quiz related to Ernie's January 25th, 1959 appearance on CBS TV's Jack Benny Program:

1. During Jack's opening monologue, what prized possession does Ernie share with him?

2. What do Jack and Ernie present for the main sketch?

3. Ernie gives a very dramatic performance at sketch's end. Why?

4. There are two things about this broadcast that are the first and only time something happened to Ernie during his career. What are they?

I must admit that I did not know the answers to these questions and I don't think you'll find them in books so it will take a real Jack Benny fan to answer them. I may have seen the episode once at the Museum of TV and Radio (then known as the Museum of Broadcasting and now known as The Paley Center For Media) but that was quite some time ago. I did find out, however, that you can see the episode by ordering The Best Of Jack Benny, a 4 DVD set where it is found on Disc Two.

Thanks to John Hammes for a great quiz! He's reached Kovacsian blog immortality and you can too by submitting answers to the questions in any one of the following ways:

1. Post your answers here in the comments section.
2. Send your answers to me through the Ernie Kovacs My Space Fan Page.
3. Email your answers to me by clicking HERE.

I'll announce the winner in a future post so get to it!

The Ernie Kovacs My Space Fan Page is up to 676 friends this week, an increase of 15 since our last post. As always we thank everyone who requested an add or accepted a request from us.

And now some fun Ernie related posts from the Blogosphere:

Robert McHenry is Mad about Mad Magazine!

Portzebie talks about the history of Mad's Alfred E. Neuman

A great post about the early days of video which talks about Ernie

Ernie in the old TV series Shotgun Slade? I guess so, pardner!

Pop Art Diva talks about the Tonight Show Hosts and mentions our fellow Kovacs...

Thanks once again for stopping by and until we meet again "Its Been Real!"

Friday, February 29, 2008

An Interview With Adams, An Interesting Ad, And A New Dot Org

Good afternoon my fellow Kovacsians.

The Ernie Kovacs My Space Fan Page is up to 661 friends and pushing towards 700. Our thanks go out to anyone who requested us as a friend or who has accepted a friend request from us.

Here's something really great that I found on one of my recent Kovacs Internet searches. Its a fantastic collection of 10 interviews with Edie Adams conducted by the Archive Of American Television and recently posted by them on YouTube. There's a great deal of info about Ernie and how he worked along with Edie's reminiscences about her own career. All the interviews average about half an hour and were conducted on March 11, 1999 by Henry Colman. I've watched one already and hope to watch the others soon. I know you'll enjoy them!

I mentioned in my last post that I've been in touch with with Diana Rico who wrote Kovacsland: A Biography Of Ernie Kovacs" I've sent questions to Diana and hope to have an interview for you soon.

Yesterday I acquired the domain erniekovacs.org, which along with edieadams.org had been one of the URL’s for a website run by the Kovacs estate. Starting back in the summer of 2004 this site was set up as a tribute to Ernie and Edie's work along with a fan club and store. It was pulled down in early 2006 for reasons that were never explained. The domains were allowed to expire, eventually being purchased by one of those places that snaps up domains simply to use them as search engine portals. While edieadams.org is unfortunately still being used in this way I found out that erniekovacs.org had become available and so I purchased it. It now points to http://www.erniekovacs.net/ and it makes me very happy that its no longer being used to sully Ernie's good name. Now when you type in either address you'll be brought to the main site.

A fan sent me this interesting scan of an old 1950s ad from an entertainment magazine for one of the Kovacs' shows. Which show? Well it doesn't say, but I would guess whichever one was on that night or week. Hopefully the cigar won't ignite the paper:

Pretty cool and interesting, don't you think? It says it all without saying too much. Something today's overblown media ought to take a cue from. Thanks for sending it!

Until we meet again my fellow Kovacsians I bid you a fond "It's been real!"