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Tim Conway, 2007
|Born||Thomas Daniel Conway
December 15, 1933
Willoughby, Ohio, U.S.
|Alma mater||Bowling Green State University|
|Occupation||Actor, writer, director, comedian|
|Spouse(s)||Mary Anne Dalton (1961–1978)
Charlene Fusco (1984–present)
Thomas Daniel "Tim" Conway (born December 15, 1933) is an American comedian and actor, who has worked in sitcoms, sketch comedy and film. Conway is best known for his role in the popular 1960s World War II situation comedy McHale's Navy as the inept Ensign Charles Parker, second-in-command to Lieutenant Commander Quinton McHale (played by Ernest Borgnine), for co-starring alongside Carol Burnett on The Carol Burnett Show, and as the voice of Barnacle Boy from the animated series SpongeBob SquarePants (alongside Borgnine, who provided the voice of Mermaid Man until his death in 2012).
- 1 Early life
- 2 Career
- 3 Personal life
- 4 Charitable endeavors
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Conway was born in Willoughby, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, the son of Sophie and Dan Conway. He grew up in nearby Chagrin Falls. He attended Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio, majoring in speech and radio, and was a member of the Phi Delta Theta Fraternity. After graduating, he joined the Army, and thereafter took a job at a Cleveland radio station, at first answering mail and later as a writer in the promotional department. Conway changed his first name to "Tim" to avoid confusion with actor Tom Conway.
Conway moved back to Cleveland to work with Ernie Anderson on KYW-TV, an NBC affiliate, in 1958 and 1959 and later, from 1960 to 1962, on WJW-TV (then a CBS affiliate) on a weekday morning film (under the Ernie's Place banner), where he also wrote material for the comedic skits shown in between film intermissions. Conway also recorded a comedy album with Anderson.
WJW dismissed Conway, in part because he (and Anderson) misled station management into thinking he was a director. Because of this move, which deprived Anderson of his co-host and comic foil, the station asked Anderson if he could host a B-grade (and lower) horror film show on Friday nights instead. Conway continued to make many appearances alongside Anderson's alter ego Ghoulardi, in addition to "Big Chuck" Schodowski, a station engineer who Anderson got to assume much of Conway's sidekick status (and who ultimately succeeded Anderson as co-host of the horror film program).
After he became famous, Conway resurfaced periodically on Cleveland television on the Hoolihan and Big Chuck and Big Chuck and Lil' John shows on WJW-TV in guest spots, and occasional skits. Conway has since made regular guest appearances at numerous "Ghoulardifest" functions held by WJW over the years, along with former Cleveland TV personality Bob "Hoolihan" Wells, in tribute to Anderson, who died in 1997.
The Steve Allen Show
Comedic actress Rose Marie visited WJW in 1961, as part of CBS's promotional practice of sending their major show stars directly to local affiliates: in this case, it was for The Dick Van Dyke Show. She viewed tapes of some of Anderson and Conway's skits and proceeded to take Conway under her wing. Following his departure from WJW, Conway moved to New York City; where, with Rose Marie's assistance, he auditioned for, and gained a spot on, ABC's The Steve Allen Show as a regular player. Conway (who by this point had officially changed his first name to Tim) continued on the show for two seasons.
Conway gained a national following from his role as the bumbling, naive Ensign Charles Parker, Executive Officer of the PT-73, in the 1960s sitcom McHale's Navy, alongside Ernest Borgnine and Joe Flynn, where the two had gotten along well. After cancellation, Conway became a good friend to the legendary Oscar-winning actor. He used to run into Borgnine a lot, even appearing at his mentor's 90th birthday celebration, and 4 years later, paid tribute to his friend at 7th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on TNT. He lost his decades-long friend on July 8, 2012, the year after Borgnine was being honored. Prior to his TV commander's death, Conway revealed that "Borgnine was 'like a big teddy bear' and 'a very pleasant person to be around' when he worked with him on the World War Two sitcom 'McHale's Navy'."
Conway was part of one of the most infamous network TV programming catastrophes ever: Turn-On, a counter-cultural sketch comedy show on ABC was derided as a ripoff of NBC's Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In. Ironically Turn-On was created and directed by Laugh-In's creator George Schlatter. Even though Conway was listed only as a guest star on the pilot, which ABC broadcast on February 5, 1969, it was the only episode that ever aired.
Turn-On was so far ahead of its time in terms of comedic treatment of sexuality that the show received enough immediate, negative reaction to force several ABC affiliates, including WEWS in Conway's hometown of Cleveland, to refuse to return to the program after the first commercial break. WEWS management also sent an angrily worded telegram to the network's headquarters. Many West Coast affiliates received advanced warning and refused to air the show. Conway remarked that the show's premiere party he attended also marked the program's cancellation party, but ABC did not officially cancel the program for several days.
The Tim Conway Show (1970)
In 1970, The Tim Conway Show paired Conway with Joe Flynn of McHale's Navy in a sitcom as owner-pilots of a one-plane (a Beechcraft Model 18 named Lucky Linda) airline operated by the pair. Having "nowhere to run", this pressurized situation was ideal for the fast repartee of the lead actors. It debuted in January 1970, and the last new show aired in June 1970. In the fall of the same year, Conway was given his own hour-long variety show, The Tim Conway Comedy Hour or The Tim Conway Comedy House, which, as his other series had, folded quickly, lasting only 13 weeks. Typical of his self-effacing humor, he ordered his car's license plate to reflect the short duration of the series: "13 WKS". (Conway was given another one-hour variety show ten years later, which revived the title The Tim Conway Show; see later section.)
Beginning in 1975 Conway was often paired with Don Knotts in family films from Disney, including The Apple Dumpling Gang and its 1979 sequel, The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again. They also starred in two independent films, a boxing comedy called The Prize Fighter in 1979, and a 1980 mystery comedy film called The Private Eyes. In 1983, he starred in another TV show, Ace Crawford, Private Eye, a parody of detective series; it lasted only five episodes.
The Carol Burnett Show
Conway then became a regular on The Carol Burnett Show starting in the 1975–76 season. Conway's work on the show earned him five Emmy Awards. Two of Conway's memorable characters on the Burnett Show were:
- "The Old Man," whose shaggy white hair, slow speech, and shuffling gait ran counter to the much needed energy levels of the various occupations he was usually found in. His comic inability to get said jobs done — usually with slapstick results to himself, and with many an ad-lib — both frustrated and 'broke up' his fellow sketch performers. It was revealed in subsequent episodes that The Old Man's name was Duane Toddleberry.
- "Mr. Tudball," a Swedish-American businessman whose intentions of running a 'ship-shape' office were usually sunk by the bored indifference of his secretary, "Mrs. Wiggins" (Burnett). Conway used a stereotypical Swedish accent (especially when frustrated); for example, his attempts to pronounce his secretary's name came out as "Mrs. Ah-huh-wiggins". He also used this accent for other characters, such as an inept dentist.
Conway could also get results with no dialogue, as in a sketch in which he played a tired businessman seeking restful sleep in his hotel — and pestered by a housefly, created only by a sound effect and Conway's gazing after it. After much struggle, he manages to get the fly out of the room through the window; after returning to bed, he hears a persistent knock on his door, gets up to answer it, and opens the door, letting the fly (who was doing the knocking) back in.
Another well-remembered skit, also without a word from Conway, featured him playing Simba, a lion raised by humans then released to the wild (based on the lioness Elsa in the film Born Free). Conway, told of the upcoming eviction from the comfortable home, caused Burnett and Korman to break up with an interminable process of packing to leave.
A prime example of his ability to make his co-stars laugh uncontrollably involved Lyle Waggoner as a captured American airman, with Conway as a stereotypical blond-haired Gestapo agent charged with his interrogation. Stating that "the Fuhrer" had taken particular interest, Conway produces a small Hitler hand puppet. With Conway providing a falsetto voice, the puppet suggests that singing might relax Waggoner's character to the point he is willing to talk. In a long, drawn-out fashion, the Hitler puppet sings "I've Been Working on the Railroad", and with each passing verse, Waggoner loses more of his composure, finally laughing hysterically when puppet-Hitler screeches, "FEE-FI-Fiddely-I-O!"
Conway remained a regular cast member of The Carol Burnett Show until the program's run ended, in 1978.
The Tim Conway Show (1980–1981)
In 1980, Conway again was given his own one-hour variety program, titled The Tim Conway Show (the title that was previously used for his 1970 sitcom). It aired on CBS, as his previous shows had, and debuted on March 22, 1980. It was originally a full hour, but was reduced to half an hour in summer 1980. It lasted longer than any of his earlier self-titled series, ending in August 1981. The format was similar to that of The Carol Burnett Show, with several regular cast members performing in comedy sketches, interspersed with the occasional musical performance by a guest musician. Among the regulars in the cast were Maggie Roswell, Miriam Flynn, Eric Boardman, Jack Riley and Dick Orkin. Former Burnett cast member Harvey Korman also became a Tim Conway Show regular in late 1980, after having earlier made guest appearances on the show, as had Carol Burnett and Vicki Lawrence.
In the spring of 1983, Conway starred in another situation comedy, Ace Crawford, Private Eye; a spoof of detective shows, it lasted only a month. In the summer of 1990, he starred in Tim Conway's Funny America, playing pranks in disguise on unsuspecting passersby around the United States while hidden cameras recorded the results, which Conway presented to a studio audience; it, too, lasted only a few weeks.
Conway's more recent work includes a series of satirical how-to videos in which he plays a diminutive, dark-haired Scandinavian known as Dorf (a variation on "dwarf"), reprising his goofy Mr. Tudball accent. The Dorf character first appeared in the 1987 film Dorf on Golf and has since appeared in eight other films on a variety of sports from baseball to auto racing. Dorf on Golf was remastered for DVD in 2007. In 2010, all of the Dorf films were remastered in a DVD Collection featuring all eight films, a behind-the-scenes with Dorf, and a commentary track by Tim Conway on "The Legend of the Paddle: The Oldie Hollis Story". Dorf also appeared on an episode of Tim Conway's Funny America in the summer of 1990, leading an aerobics class on his impossibly short legs.
Since 2009, Conway's Dorf character has started "helping" Santa Claus on the website iSpotSanta, created by comedy filmmaker Pasquale Murena and Anything Goes Productions. Each year, Dorf has three sketches; in 2009 he tried to give Santa his Christmas list, failing and accidentally hitting Santa with a golf ball. Then in 2010, he tried to give all of the world's letters to Santa directly using jet rockets to fly to his sleigh, cannon balls and more.
Conway has also made many guest appearances and other roles in television.
He guest-starred in ABC's Coach, for which he received the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series playing Kenny Montague in the 1996 episode "The Gardener". Conway won another Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for his role as Bucky Bright in the 30 Rock episode "Subway Hero", which initially aired on April 17, 2008.
His other TV roles include:
- 1963: Channing, playing a job applicant
- 1973: The New Scooby Doo Movies, voiced himself in the episode "The Spirited Spooked Sports Show"
- 1991: Carol & Company; a cameo appearance as audience member in the episode "That Little Extra Something"
- 1995–96: Married... with Children as Ephraim Wanker, hillbilly father of Peg Bundy in four episodes
- 1997/99: Diagnosis: Murder, appears in two episodes; in "Comedy is Murder", he and Harvey Korman play former comedy partners Tim Conrad and Harvey Huckaby (A clip of the well-known dentist sketch from The Carol Burnett Show was used to illustrate their partnership)
- 1999–2011: SpongeBob SquarePants, voicing the character "Barnacle Boy", a recurring role pairing up as the sidekick to his old McHale's Navy co-star, Ernest Borgnine (as Mermaid Man)
- 2001–05: Yes Dear, a recurring role as Tom Warner, the father of Greg, with Carol Burnett Show co-star Vicki Lawrence playing his wife
- 2003: On The Spot, short-lived WB Network comedy, as Mr. Henderson
- 2003–10: Hermie and Friends, Max Lucado's animated video series, providing the voice of the title character in eight episodes
- 2008: Garfield's Fun Fest, voicing Freddy Frog and other characters
- 2008: 30 Rock, as Bucky Bright, a washed up star from the 1940s and 1950s
- 2010, 2013: Hot in Cleveland, in the episodes "It's Not That Complicated" and "Canoga Falls" (in which he is reunited with Carol Burnett)
- 2010–11: Word Girl, voicing Bampy Botsford and Museum Security Guard
- 2011: Batman: The Brave and the Bold, voicing the Weeper in the episode "Joker: The Vile and the Villainous!"
- 2011: Wizards of Waverly Place, as Cragmont in the episode "Justin's Back In"
- 2013: Mike & Molly, as Brian in the episode "School Recital"
- 2013: Major Crimes, as a tenant of Shangri-La Apartments in "There's No Place Like Home"
- 2014: Two and a Half Men, as a guest at Marty's stag party in "Bite Me, Supreme Court"
He has lent his voice to other TV shows including The Simpsons, Disney spin-off Hercules, The Wild Thornberrys, Cybill, What's New, Scooby-Doo?, The Proud Family, Scooby-Doo! Pirates Ahoy!, Caillou and What's with Andy?. He also narrated The Secret Shortcut in Reading Rainbow and hosted The Flintstones' 25th Anniversary Celebration.
Other film and video
He starred in Disney films such as The World's Greatest Athlete (1973), The Apple Dumpling Gang (1975), Gus (1976) and The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again (1979). He starred in the 1977 comedy film The Billion Dollar Hobo. Conway also co-starred with Don Knotts in The Prize Fighter (1979) and The Private Eyes (1980). Conway also appeared with Dick Martin in Air Bud: Golden Receiver (1998) as Fred Davis, the main announcer for the Timberwolves' final game, with Martin as his co-announcer, Phil Phil.
Starting in 2003, Conway teamed up with good friend Don Knotts again to provide voices for the direct-to-video children's series Hermie and Friends, which continued until Knotts' death in 2006. Conway continued to do the series.
In 2007, he hosted "Thou Shalt Laugh 2: The Deuce", a collection of Christian stand-up comedians.
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Conway has been married twice. He was married to Mary Anne Dalton from 1961 until 1978. They had six children together. He has been married to Charlene Fusco since May 18, 1984. Among Tim Conway's children is KFI Los Angeles radio host Tim Conway, Jr.
- Thomas Attila Lewis (2011-04-08). "Interview Tim Conway – To Appear at the Wilbur on Sunday". bostonist.com. Retrieved 2011-05-21.
- End of an Era..WJW-TV movie hosts Tim Conway admits to this starting at 3:35, also remarking that "3 wouldn't take me back, and channel 5 said I was too short."
- "Comedian Tim Conway Will Join 'The Carol Burnett Show' As Regular Member". Spartanburg Herald-Journal. Associated Press. July 6, 1975. p. C10. Retrieved June 30, 2013.
- Tim Conway to introduce Ernest Borgnine tribute. cleveland.com. Retrieved on 2012-08-24.
- Tim Conway: 'Ernest Borgnine Was Like A Big Teddy Bear' | Video. Contactmusic.com (2012-07-13). Retrieved on 2012-08-24.
- Conway, Tim. PIONEERS OF TELEVISION: Tim Conway on "Turn-On" (#104) (Web). Public Broadcasting Service. Retrieved 2009-02-23.
- Rosenthal, Phil (26 November 2006). "O.J. blunder hardly a first for television". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2007-04-15. "Tim Conway ... has joked the cancellation of the 1969 ABC comedy program came during the cast's post-debut party."
- Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earl (2003). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946–Present (8th ed.). New York: Ballantine Books. p. 1203. ISBN 0-345-45542-8.
- ‘iSpotSanta’ Website Posts Sightings All December . Ispotsanta.com. Retrieved on 2012-08-24.
- The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present. Ballantine Books. 2003. p. 1447. ISBN 0-345-45542-8.
- "Television Hall of Fame Honorees: Complete List".
- Tim Conway to return to Chagrin Falls for three performances at Chagrin Valley Little Theater. cleveland.com. Retrieved on 2012-08-24.
- [dead link]
- "Aout", MacBeth Fund website. http://www.macbethfund.org/about.htm
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Tim Conway.|
- Official website
- Tim Conway at the Internet Movie Database
- Conway Tim Conway interview video at the Archive of American Television
- Disney Legends profile
- Two takes on "The Elephant Story"
- Q&A with Tim Conway
- [chriscomerradio.com/tim_conway/tim_conway4-23-2002.htm] Tim Conway Radio Interview