Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Masked Man Finally Is Un-Masked!

OK. I know that there are many of you that are dying to know the answers to the infamous trivia question and I'm happy to say that someone has finally gotten it. I promise I won't keep you in suspense for much longer.

But first, I want to thank (as I always do each week) anyone who has accepted a friend request or requested to be a friend on Ernie's MySpace Fan Page. As of my last post there were 348 friends and there are now 361. Please let other Ernie fans who have MySpace pages know about us if they don't already. We will gladly process their friend requests.

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for. The trivia question was answered by our dear MySpace friend Brian, pictured to the left ( I think this photo may have been taking after some painful dental surgery). Here are the answers. Ernie would have been proud:

1. What was the name of this western?
"Das Einsame Aufseher"

2. What is the LITERAL translation of the title.
"The Lonely Overseer"

3. Who is the character a satire of? The Lone Ranger

4. What is the name of the desperado Ernie is going to fight, as played by Joe Mikolas? "Schwarze Bart"

5. What is the translation of the desperado's name?
"Black Bart" (Or "Black Beard" since Bart = beard in German)

6. What does Ernie put in his six shooter? "Silber Kugels!" = silver bullets

7. What language are they supposedly speaking in this "European Western?"
Mangled German

Brian speaks some German and I accept his answers as more correct than the ones I came up with when I first wrote the question. I thought that "Das Einsame Aufseher" meant "The Lonely Custodians," but that was probably because the translation website I used is inaccurate.

Here's Brian's take on it:

In fact, I remembered the whole sketch except for the word "Aufseher", and had to play the video to get that. "Aufseher" means literally "out-seer", and the dictionary says it means overseer or supervisor. I think Kovacs might have meant it in the sense of a scout, which would be "Spaher" (umlaut (little dots) over the a). I speak enough German to wince at how "Wolfgang Sauerbraten" mangles the language!

So there you have it. A profound thanks to Brian for his good sportsmanship and fine effort. I'm giving him extra points because he had to look on the VHS tapes to get some of the answers and didn't have the help of an easy to search DVD.

Another MySpace friend, "MadWriter," was asking me about the two versions of "Eugene" (aka "The Silent Show") that were done. Yes, there were two! The first was in color and was the only time Ernie ever appeared on TELEVISION in color. He appeared in movies in color all the time. Here's what I told "MadWriter":

When Jerry Lewis split with "Dino" in 1956 he was given a 90 minute special by NBC to go out on his own with. Thing is, his agent told them Jerry didn't want to do 90 minutes.

So, they needed to fill the extra 1/2 hour. They offered it to many well known comics but NO ONE was crazy enough to go on after Lewis who was extremely popular at that time. No one except for Ernie that is. And he did Eugene for his 1/2 hour and garnered lots of acclaim. That version is in color. The only place I've ever seen it, or part of it anyway, was at the "Museum Of TV And Radio" here in New York ( And its the only time Ernie was ever in color on TV. And, it was LIVE. Of course, Ernie was in color in the movies quite a bit.

The version on the VHS or DVD is one of the ABC specials from 1961 (November I believe) and that is the one most everyone knows.

Last week a magician named Glenn Bishop wrote a very nice post about this blog and I hope you'll all go read it. Once you're there be sure to check out all of Glenn's blogs. There are some great video clips and info on magic, which used to be a hobby of mine. Glenn's a really talented magician and a fellow Ernie fan with an interesting take on Ernie's process. Thanks for the post Glenn!

I'll close as always with some other blog posts and articles I found this week in cyberspace:

The column "Pop Matters" talks about the pros and cons of "The Nairobi Trio"

Steve Gerber Gives Us A Quick Opinion On "The Nairobi Trio"

Inner Toob Gives A Quick Nod To Ernie

Some more "Nairobi Trio

Until next week, friends, "Its Been Real!"


Toby O'B said...

That was just a quick mention of Ernie, but he casts a large shadow over "Inner Toob".

In 2001 (when I was running an actual website called The Tubeworld Dynamic), he was inducted into our TV Crossover Hall of Fame on the Birthday Honors List (when the only qualification is: What I Say, Goes).

We saluted him for his genius and his innovations and influence that continue to this day.

One day when I get a permanent site up again for the Hall, I'll have all the inductees enshrined. The picture I used for Ernie was classic: framed in the photo like it was a TV set, his mouth was twisted in that classic up-and-down grimace.

Thanks for checking out "Inner Toob". I'll be back again to look around in more depth!

Al Quagliata said...


I love the idea of the "TV Crossover Hall Of Fame." If you bring it back, let us know we'll give it a mention.

The photo you mention is from either "Its Time For Ernie" or "Ernie In Kovacsland". It is a classic. Ernie was showing the kids what happens when you adjust the horizontal and vertical knobs on a TV set.

Here's a crop of that photo for those who have never seen it. Just click the link:


Thanks for stopping by!

Glenn Bishop "Bish The Magish" said...


Thanks for the kind words and I am really enjoying your blog.

Keep up the great work.

Thanks again,

Glenn Bishop

Altrok Radio said...

An excerpt of the color Silent Show was aired as part of the NBC 60th Anniversary Special in 1976, and the clip of that show containing the Table Sketch (including an introduction from Johnny Carson) has been posted to YouTube here.

Apparently, the color kinescoping technology they used created a much darker result than the original broadcast; a digital restoration of the show would seem to be in order...

Al Quagliata said...


I appreciate your taking the time to comment and posting this link.

As a general rule we don't post links to YouTube vids here, but in this case I am because it's short and of course very relevant to this topic. I had a link to that clip at one point, on another blog where someone had embedded it, but it got taken down.

I decided to research this a bit more and came up with the following links, which are to the catalog of The Paley Center For Media (formerly the Museum Of Television And Radio, as mentioned in this post).

The first has the most complete information on what is available to view at Paley:

19 Minute Segment Of Color Version, In Black And White

This of course is no consolation to those who wish to see it in color.

This link is to the catalog listing for a 30 minute version which aired on Comedy Central at some point. I can't be sure if they are confusing this with the version that aired in black and white on ABC in 1961. I never recall seeing a color version, or any version, on CC. 30 minutes is the actual length.

Here is a very vague listing which just mentions "Saturday Color Carnival" and "The Ernie Kovacs Show". Not too much information, unfortunately.

My suggestion to anyone visiting The Paley Center is to print out these listings so you know exactly what to search for in the catalog when you go there. I've seen a segment of the color version, as mentioned in the post. Now that my memory is jogged I'm pretty sure that it was the 19 minute version. I thought it was I got to see it in color but I may be wrong as it was quite some time ago.

Ben Model said...

Allow me to clarify what survives on "The Silent Show" and what is at the Paley Center...

The January 19, 1957 Saturday Color Carnival (the full 90 minutes, Lewis + Kovacs) was kinescoped in B&W, as well as on 35mm lenticular color film. Both a 16mm B&W kine and the 35mm lenticular (pix only) elements survive, thanks to Edie Adams, of the Kovacs half hour (known as "The Silent Show").

Several years ago the UCLA Film & TV archive, to whom Edie donated some materials, restored the "Silent Show" using the 35mm lenticular and the audio from the 16mm kine.

What is at the Paley Center is from the B&W kine; I've not seen what the Paley has in a long time either, but if it says 19 mins it's not complete. I can tell you the surviving B&W kine is the full half-hour. My guess is the Paley edition may be missing the vocalise number that precedes the "Eugene" segment, and maybe a commercial break or two.

Several years ago Edie showed me a "Eugene" segment from one of the surviving kine's from when Ernie hosted "Tonight", in which he tried out the tilted-table routine.

I've been told that the 60 minute Jerry Lewis program that preceded Ernie's half hour also survives somewhere (I believe also in color).


Ben Model said...

...and the bit where Ernie contorts his face to demonstrate how to adjust your set, with a set of control knobs hanging around his neck, is from the May 1951 "Time For Ernie" (a 15 minute show). It's also on the "TV's Original Genius" show that aired on Showtime and was available on VHS way back when.

Al Quagliata said...


Thank you. I contacted Ben to post a comment on here and clear this up.

Great information, as always.

Sean Carolan said...

Welp, now (thanks to the just-arrived Ernie Kovacs Collection) I've seen the Saturday Color Carnival's "Ernie Kovacs Show" segment, and it's even more mind-blowing than I'd originally thought. While the Eugene bit is more compact, the colorful op-art opening/interstitial/credits are darn near psychedelia. Basically, that show's even more ahead of its time than I'd previously thought.

I'd love to see an even better clean-up job someday - perhaps using a computer to better register the color blurs and restore the video structure to make it a bit more "live" - but that's not a complaint. It's incredible we're able to see it at all, much less in color.

And it's got the Nairobi Trio in color. What's not to like?

Al Quagliata said...


Finally had the chance to see it; thanks for your comment.

I told Ben Model that I love how all the furniture in Eugene is supposed to be high tone, yet Eugene gets his own cheap lounge chair and it's GREEN. HAH!

Even in color Ernie was a riot. I think a stellar job was done restoring these pieces; I don't know enough about computers to render further comment on that aspect.