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ERNIE KOVACS

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A SHORT HISTORY OF ERNIE KOVACS

Ernie Kovacs is perhaps the greatest role model that any comedian can have, especially any comedian who wants to get into television. Born on January 23rd, 1919 in Trenton, New Jersey, Ernest Edward Kovacs has often been referred to as "Television’s Original Genius." Believe me, folks, this is a moniker that is quite appropriate when used to describe this brilliant man.

While in high school, Ernie was influenced greatly by his drama teacher, Harold Van Kirk. Upon graduation he went to acting school and through a series of bizarre events ended up as a Disc Jockey on Trenton radio station WTTM.The affable and hysterically funny Ernie quickly became a huge hit with Trentonians and soon had his own newspaper column. This led to a stint starting in 1949-50 at WPTZ-TV, the NBC affiliate in Philadelphia.

The medium was brand new, and Ernie was young and brimming with fresh and innovative ideas to bring to this new toy. And in bringing his considerable gifts to the airwaves, he changed the way we view television forever.

He was the first performer to realize how to use television’s intrinsic qualities to make a comedically visual statement. And, he created characters which influenced everyone from SNL to David Letterman and beyond. Read the book "Kovacsland: A Biography Of Ernie Kovacs" by Diana Rico to find out more. Clicking the book title will take you to a page where you can purchase it.

Unfortunately, a car accident in Los Angeles on January 13th, 1962, took Ernie from us at the height of his popularity. The legacy he left, however, continues to live on. Continue scrolling to see some interesting pieces of Kovacsian Memorabilia.

To the left is one of my favorite artifacts, given to Unofficial Ernie Kovacs Web Site webmaster Ben Model by a fan who found it at a garage sale! This is an admission ticket to the "Ernie Kovacs Show" on the old Dumont Network (Now Fox-5 New York.) Note that you actually had to be at the studio at 10:50pm, as all the shows in those days went out live. Also note the date: Monday, January 11th, 1955, and the old Dumont call letters, WABD. This artifact holds special meaning for me, as the studio where this show was shot used to be a dress factory owned by my late Grandfather, Frank LaManna! I believe that today it is the location of Fox 5 studios in New York. To the left is also a scan of a TV Guide Cover featuring Ernie and his wife, singer/actress Edie Adams. I bought this on EBAY.

To the right is another interesting artifact. This is an autographed publicity postcard from the show "Kovacs Unlimited" which aired on CBS-TV in the early 1950's. If I recall correctly, it was given to me by a Kovacs fan who I purchased a book from on EBAY. Its one of my favorite pieces of Ernie Memorabilia.

To the left is a scan of an old Matte Card from WPTZ, Philco/Westinghouse Channel 3 (NBC), Ernie's very first station in Philadelphia. These were drawn by artists on heavy cards stock and inserted during station breaks, kind of an early version of today's television computer graphics!

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