Dorf in Mourning


Harvey Korman, the tall, versatile comedian who won four Emmys for his outrageously funny contributions to "The Carol Burnett Show" and played a conniving politician to hilarious effect in "Blazing Saddles," died Thursday in Los Angeles. He was 81.

Korman died after suffering complications from the rupture of an abdominal aortic aneurysm four months ago, his family said. He had undergone several major operations.

After 10 successful seasons, Korman left Burnett's show in 1977 for his own series. It failed, as did other series starring the actor.

More here.

That is a stunningly compressed and depressing obit for a great comic actor who starred in "The Carol Burnett Show," in several great Mel Brooks' movies, always had a hint of endearing flop sweat on him, and who could never keep a straight face opposite Tim Conway. His greatest role, at least in "The Carol Burnett Show" universe, was undoubtedly Ed, the set-upon husband in the "Mama's Family" set of sketches. "Mama's Family," later a series of its own starring another light-footed master of small-screen Stygian darkness (Ken Berry, who had formerly played a likeable clumsy genocide on F Troop; the Kurtz of Fort Courage), told of a completely dysfunctional redneck family in which there was no joy, pleasure, security, love, or emotion other than unrestrained and thwarted ambition and disappointment. It was The Honeymooners, already a depressing dramedy itself, as directed by Bergman. And it was pretty damn good, especially for late '70s America. The bit itself became increasingly unwatchable once it got its own spinoff series in the '80s, but such is the way of all flesh, especially when it's starring Vicki Lawrence and Ken Berry.

But Mama's Family, like the poor (and unlike poor Harvey Korman) is with us always. Or at least for this election cycle. That's due to this new and inexplicable book, which features the down-home country wisdom of the fictional Thelma Harper. Mama for President: Good Lord, Why Not?

Sampling of her platform, courtesy of DC Examiner:

-?She believes FEMA should be stripped of its powers, which will be turned over to none other than Pizza Hut and Domino's. "Not only will they show up within a half hour, but they would probably even give starving victims a good deal of those promotional bread sticks."

-?Immigration: "I'll tell you how we solve the problem at our border. … Build senior citizen housing all along the American side. No one sees more than a nosy old lady peeking through her window blinds."

-?Nancy Grace will be her attorney general: "Because she won't take any crap from anybody and she'll be easier to protect since her hair is bulletproof." Secretary of Defense? Martha Stewart: "She's General Patton with a spatula."

Can she bring the change we so surely need? Can she stay the course and give us the stability and continuity 21st America needs to run its empire. Prolly as much as either Obama or McCain. Not as much as Ron Paul, but then again he's not running.

NEXT: Grand Theft Auto

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. No, it’s “de Monet.” Say it with me now:

    de Monet

  2. It’s Hedley!

  3. Not as much as Ron Paul, but then again he’s not running.

    But I keep getting rally notices in my inbox?!

  4. I will always remember Harvey Korman for his appearance in the most atrocious television program ever aired: The Star Wars Holiday Special.

    He played two roles in the program, but what stood out was his portrayal of an intergalactic cooking show host. Seeing him dressed in space-age drag is a sight I’ll never forget:

    If you have the time, here he is in that role.



  5. “Chewing gum on line, eh… well, I hope you brought enough for everybody.”

    His performance in Blazing Saddles alone is rather timeless.

  6. All of you dum dums are forgetting his greatest role–the voice of the Great Gazoo.


  7. Here’s to a man that used his tongue prettier than a twenty dollar whore.

    Mama may have been the lead, but Ed and Eunice gave it the bite. That’s why I have to part with Nick. Mama’s Family on it’s own was unfunny, Ken Berry not withstanding.

  8. Korman was great. I’m sad to hear that he’s left us. In his honor, I will count the money.

  9. Hey Fallon! Say goodnight, you bum! And this is for laughing during every comedy sketch you’ve ever been in! Who do you think you are, Carol Burnett? You think that she did it, so it’s alright for you? You haven’t earned what she’s earned! Alright, now where is the guy who slept with my daughter?

  10. May he spend eternity in the presence of his favorite teutonic titwillow.

    R.I.P Mr. Korman. Condolences to his family.

  11. Truly one of the greats, and it’s given me an excuse to spend the day watching old Carol Burnett sketches on YouTube.

  12. Mama’s Family on it’s own was unfunny…

    Oh, man – the first couple of seasons were hysterical. It became unfunny after that.

    Blazing Saddles showed up from Netflix a couple of days ago… guess I know what I’m doing later.

  13. ‘Men, you are about embark on a great crusade. To stamp out runaway decency in the West. Now you will only be risking your lives. Whilst I, will be risking an almost certain Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.”

  14. The Carol Burnett Show is one of the highlights in broadcast television history. Harvey Korman had a large amount to do with the show’s excellence.

    The best and most honest compliment I can give is when I read about his passing this morning, I smiled because of my fond memories of his work.

    This evening, I’ll celebrate his life rather than mourn his death.

  15. [to the piss boy] Wait for the shake!

  16. Irrational Crazy Supporters
    Crazy Pastors
    Hillary Blogs
    Obamas resume
    Want to know the difference between Clinton and Obama supporters

    This and more on?


  17. “‘Mama’s Family,’ later a series of its own starring another light-footed master of small-screen Stygian darkness (Ken Berry, who had formerly played a likeable clumsy genocide on F Troop; the Kurtz of Fort Courage), told of a completely dysfunctional redneck family in which there was no joy, pleasure, security, love, or emotion other than unrestrained and thwarted ambition and disappointment.”

    Nick, I hope that’s the most incoherent sentence you’ve ever written, but it probably isn’t.

  18. If you fully diagram that sentence, Alan, you might get a better handle on it.

  19. I thought it was a rather well-executed compound sentence, Alan.

    RIP, Mr. Korman. I could always count on you for a good laugh.

  20. I saw Harvey and Tim Conway in their final touring stage show about a year and a half ago. Two straight hours of laughter before a packed house with audience members ranging from 8 to 80. I can’t think of a better example of his widespread and lasting appeal.

  21. Oh, just let me have a little feel ….

    I loved the man. Funniest bastard I’ve ever seen on screen, and that’s the truth.

  22. Slightly OT:
    Funniest line in movie history:

    “You know, Nietzche says that out of chaos, comes order.”
    “Ah, blow it out your ass Howard.”

  23. My all time favorite skit of his on the Carol Burnett show was when he and Tim Conway did the dentist skit. He absolutely could not keep a straight face while Tim was playing the inept dentist. What a wonderful comedian! I fully regret not ponying up the dough to go see them live a couple of years ago when they were in my area.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.