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!"


zabadu said...

No fair! You said you would tell us the answers! Not all of us can go out and buy the Benny DVD's so we won't go insane waiting to find out.

geomop said...

Relax. The answers have been posted in the comments section of the original post. When I write the next post I will feature them more prominently.

Now go smoke a cigar like Ernie and while you're at pour yourself a Martini, just like Percy would have done...

PopArtDiva said...

Well, I thought I had seen all the old westerns but Shotgun Slade was a new one on me! Crap, now I have to hunt down the tv theme for it!

You always have something new and interesting on Ernie too!

P. S. zabadu - if you need a martini you can get recipes at my martini blog, lol.


geomop said...

Thanks for the kind words. I hadn't seen that Western either and I'm a huge fan of them!

Ernie actually had the chance to star in his own Western for ABC entitled "The Medicine Man," along with the great Buster Keaton. A pilot was made which was entitled "A Pony For Chris."

Ernie played "Doc," an unctuous snake-oil salesman traveling around the Old West selling his product and running con schemes with the help of his mute Native American sidekick "Junior" played by Keaton. Doc inherits his young nephew Chris when his sister dies and the thrust of the series was to be Doc and Junior running con schemes while trying to raise the kid the right way and having him get underfoot all the time.

Unfortunately the script was not very good and since Ernie died the day he finished the pilot there was never to be a series. The pilot was never broadcast.

You can see the pilot, however, if you visit The Paley Center For Media (formerly the Museum of Television and Radio) in either New York or Los Angeles (I saw it in New York).

These two legends do the best they can with a terrible script loaded with Native American stereotypes and a grating laugh track (I figure they made Buster's character mute so he could utilize his silent film skills). Even if Ernie had lived I can't imagine that it ever would have been picked up as a series.

I may have to visit your Martini blog today. I sure could use one!

PopArtDiva said...

I am definitely going to watch that pilot - how sad that Ernie passed away the same day he did it.

Enjoy your martini - like Jimmy Durante used to say "I got a million of 'em!"

Terri aka PopArtDiva aka THE MARTINI DIVA

geomop said...

I want to correct something I said in one of the above comments. Ernie finished shooting the pilot and that night went to a party for Milton Berle being given at Billy Wilder's home.

It was driving home from that party that Ernie was killed in the car accident, actually the next day since it took place after midnight.