The comedy world lost one of its funniest people ever recently when Tim Conway passed away at the age of 85. Conway had the world laughing for over fifty years with a career that started out in local TV in Cleveland. He then went national when he moved to New York City and landed a job as a regular on The Steve Allen Show on ABC.
He had even bigger success as one of the stars of the 1960’s World War Two sitcom, McHale’s Navy. After that show left the airways, he had his own short-lived sitcom and variety show. What the world will always know him best for is The Carol Burnett Show, which aired on CBS from 1967 to 1978.
From the first season on, Conway was a popular and frequent guest. When Lyle Waggoner left the show in 1975, he became a full-time cast member and stayed on with the show till the end. Along with great characters like The Oldest Man and Mr. Tudball, his time on the show is noted for his ability to crack up his castmates during a sketch.
There are several reasons why Tim Conway matters to Generation X. The Carol Burnett Show was something that families watched together. When Conway passed away on May 14, 2019, there were many comments on social media from first wave Gen Xers about how they grew up watching the show with their families. The show aired on Saturday in a time when that was still a big night for TV viewing. Along with Burnett, for much of the seventies, the powerhouse CBS Saturday night lineup included The Mary Tyler Moore Show, All in the Family and The Bob Newhart Show. Can you think of a show that presently airs on Saturday nights on a broadcast network?
He was not just a TV celebrity, he was also a movie star. Conway teamed with another comedy great, Don Knotts and made four successful family-friendly movies starting in 1975 with The Apple Dumpling Gang. A sequel, The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again, came out in 79 as did The Prize Fighter. Their final movie as a starring duo, Private Eyes, was released in 1980. Both Conway and Knotts appeared in Disney’s Gus in 1976, however, they did not have any scenes together. They made a cameo as Highway Patrol Officers in Cannonball Run 2 in 1984. This was the last time they appeared together on screen.
Conway appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1986 in a skit where he portrayed a very short Scandinavian horse jockey named Dorf. This lead to eight direct to video “how to” films featuring the Dorf character. He also played Peggy Bundy’s father in four episodes of Married with Children.
Perhaps his most famous skit on The Carol Burnett Show was The Dentist with Harvey Korman. Neither one of them could make it through the entire skit without laughing. Take a look at the clip below.
R.I.P. Tim Conway and thanks for the memories.