Tim Conway, who made generations of Americans laugh on TV shows such as “McHale’s Navy” and “The Carol Burnett Show,” died this morning.
He was 85.
Conway won multiple Emmy Awards, most recently in 2008 for his role as a guest star on the comedy show “30 Rock” in which he played Bucky Bright, an old, long-forgotten television star.
The actor’s big break in Hollywood came on “McHale’s Navy,” when Conway was cast to play Ensign Charles Parker. He was nominated for a best supporting actor Emmy in 1963.
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But he’ll probably be best known for his work on “Carol Burnett,” the iconic 1970s sketch comedy show that included the likes of Burnett, Conway, Harvey Korman, Lyle Waggoner and Vicki Lawrence.
Conway won Emmys for best supporting performer in 1973, 1977 and 1978 for his “Burnett” work.
He stole many a scene on “Burnett,” with cameras often catching Burnett and Korman struggling — and usually failing — to keep straight faces after something Conway had said or done something hilarious.
Two of the sketches are widely viewed as among the funniest in television history:
WATCH Tim Conway Tell Elephant Story:
WATCH Tim Conway as the dentist:
“I’m heartbroken,” Burnett said in a statement this morning, shortly after Conway’s passing.
“He was one in a million, not only as a brilliant comedian but as a loving human being. I cherish the times we had together both on the screen and off. He’ll be in my heart forever.”
Conway, a native of Ohio, said his Midwestern roots played well on “Burnett” and its more gentle, non-offensive comedy takes.
“I think the Midwest is the heart of comedy in this country, and a little bit of the South, too,” he told the Wisconsin State Journal in 2005. “For some reason, we’re just more laid-back, more understanding. … And Midwesterners have a kinder sense of humor.”
Even after his time on “Burnett,” Conway kept working and remained a relevant comedy force. In the 1980s, he produced a series of popular comedy VHS tapes with the character “Dorf,” a diminutive persona who hilariously tried to teach viewers how to fish, play golf and baseball.
He made an impact on later generations as the voice of Barnacle Boy on the popular animated series “SpongeBob SquarePants.”
Thomas Daniel Conway was born Dec. 15, 1933, in the Cleveland suburb of Willoughby, Ohio.
He attended Bowling Green State University and served in the U.S. Army, before launching into his comedic acting career.
Conway and his first wife, Mary Anne Dalton, had six children. After they divorced in 1978, Conway married Charlene Fusco in 1984.
Fusco and one of his daughters, Jackie, were at his side when Conway passed away in Southern California.