Tim Conway has died at the age of 85. He had been suffering from complications from a spinal fluid disorder that can bring on dementia.
He first made it big as Ensign Charlie Parker on “McHale’s Navy”… but cemented his place in TV history during his time as a member of the ensemble of The Carol Burnett Show.
Tim’s roles as “Mickey Hart” alongside Eunice, Ed & Mama of “The Family” broke up not only those of us watching, but the cast members as well. The same was true when he played everything from “The Oldest Man”, to “Mr. Tudball” the boss to Carol Burnett’s ditzy “Mrs. Hwwwhiggggg-gens”, to “The Dentist”.
If you don’t remember the scene where Tim plays a first-day-on-the-job Dentist who accidentally paralyzes his own leg with a shot of novocaine, Google it! Harvey Korman’s “peeing his pants”, “losing it” reaction as his first-ever patient is priceless. And speaking of Korman… Who can forget the GWTW scene where he plays Rhett Butler to Carol Burnett’s Scarlett O’Hara. She greets Rhett wearing a Green velvet dress, made from Drapes, including the curtain rod. Rhett says, “That gown is gorgeous!” and Scarlett replies, “Thank you. I saw it in the window, and I just couldn't resist it.”
In another memorable sketch, Conway caused what is considered the shows biggest blooper. While improvising a story about “Siamese Elephants” he left his co-stars gasping for air and prompted an in-tears Vicki Lawrence to ad-lib to Carol’s Burnett’s Eunice, “Is that little ass****” finished??”
Tim was married twice, had six biological children and one step child. Sadly, one of his daughters and his second wife spent the last year in court arguing about who should be in charge of his care. A not-funny situation for an incredibly funny guy. He probably would have joked about it if he’d been able.
I crossed paths with Tim twice over the years. One time, I interviewed him while I was working at CKLW. When he walked into the studio in Windsor he said to me “I could swear my ex-wife lives in the apartment building next door”. When our interview was over, he walked out of our building and into the building next door. I never found out whether his ex-wife lived there or not.
Tim once said in an interview, “ I’ve never really taken anything very seriously. I enjoy life because I enjoy making other people enjoy it”.
And he did just that.
Tim not only ad-libbed hysterical stories, his physical humor - a limp, a hand gesture, a facial expression - could bring you to your knees. His talent was a collision of wide-eyed goofiness and sheer brilliance. At 5’ 6”, he was small in stature but a Giant in Comedy.
He was the best. And I miss it all. And I bet you do too.