Harvey Korman

Active - 1961 - 2001  |   Born - Feb 15, 1927 in Chicago, Illinois, United States  |   Died - May 29, 2008 in Los Angeles, CA  |   Genres - Comedy

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Like many Chicago born-and-bred actors, Harvey Korman cut his acting teeth at that city's Goodman Theatre. He sold aluminum siding door-to-door while waiting for his Big Break, taking the occasional Broadway walk-on, TV commercial and cartoon voice-over. His earliest significant TV exposure came about during his four seasons (1963-67) as a regular on The Danny Kaye Show. He went on to join The Carol Burnett Show in 1967, remaining with the series until its 1977 demise and winning four Emmies in the process. Korman's versatility was only part of his appeal; it was also a stitch to watch him try to maintain a straight face while enduring the antics of fellow comic actor Tim Conway. One recurring sketch on the Burnett series, "The Family," later spun off into the TV series Mama's Family. While Korman had played Mama's (Vicki Lawrence) vituperative son-in-law Ed on the Burnett Show "Family" sketches, his principal contribution to Mama's Family was confined to his weekly introductory comments as "Alastair Quince"; he also directed a 1983 special based on the "Family" principals, Eunice.

Most of Korman's other TV-series projects were lukewarm single-season affairs like The Harvey Korman Show (1978), Leo and Lizz in Beverly Hills (1986) and The Nutt House (1989). Korman's finest film work can be found in his antic appearances in the films of Mel Brooks, especially his portrayal of greedy land baron Hedley Lamarr in 1974's Blazing Saddles. One of his later projects was the voice of the Dictabird in the 1994 box-office hit The Flintstones -- a piquant piece of casting, inasmuch as Korman had supplied the voice of "The Great Gazoo" in the original Flintstonesanimated television series of the 1960s. Korman died of unspecified causes in May 2008.

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Factsheet

  • Began acting in plays while in kindergarten.
  • Served in the U.S. Navy during WWII.
  • Attempted to find work on Broadway for 13 years; then moved to Hollywood.
  • Voiced the Great Gazoo on The Flintstones.
  • Big break came in 1964 when he landed a regular role on The Danny Kaye Show.
  • Appeared on The Carol Burnett Show for 10 years beginning in 1967 and won four Emmys.
  • Appeared in four Mel Brooks movies, most notably as Hedley Lamarr in Blazing Saddles (1974).
  • In later years, toured the U.S. with Tim Conway in a two-man comedy show.