We get questions about Ernie Kovacs emailed to us all the time and are very appreciative that so many people care about his wonderful comedic legacy and take the time to write us.

In many cases the questions we receive are very specific and there is absolutely no information on the web regarding them. We're more than happy to answer these. There are, however, a number of questions that we get asked repeatedly for which there are answers on the internet. It's for this reason I thought it would be a good idea to put up a FAQ page. It will save time for us here in Kovacsland and if your question is on the list you'll get the answer right away instead of having to wait for us to answer you via email.

In some cases the entire question is a link to the answer and in others the question is answered directly on the page with some supporting links enclosed within the text. If you were looking for more specific answers regarding the subjects listed and the answers provided do not address those feel free to contact us.

Please take a few minutes to read through the list before contacting us. If the question you send is answered here it will not be responded to via email. Thanks for understanding and thanks for your support.

Al Quagliata, Webmaster, Sunday, February 14, 2010 (latest update 08/04/2012: Updated #12)

1. When and where was Ernie Kovacs born and when did he die?

2. How did Ernie die?

3. When was Edie Adams born and when did she die?

4. What is the name of the song used in "The Nairobi Trio" and what does it mean?

5. How did Ernie come up with "The Nairobi Trio" and why did he choose that song? Is it true that sometimes famous celebrities donned the ape suits to do the bit with him?

6. What is the music played during the Percy Dovetonsils bit? How about the song played during the "black out sketches" (aka "The Oscilliscope Gags"). Both answers can be found on this interesting page by Ben Model.

7. Can you tell me about the television pilot entitled "Medicine Man," which Ernie made with Buster Keaton? Our friend Rob Foster eloquently tells you everything you'd ever want to know about it.

This pilot is available for viewing at The Paley Center For Media in NYC and Los Angeles. Clicking the link will give you a full synopsis and the catalog number. It is also included on disc 3 of The Ernie Kovacs Collection.

8. I've heard there is a color version of "The Silent Show" (aka "Eugene"). Is it available for viewing on video or in some other way? As of this writing it is not out on video. It does exist, however, and you can see parts of it if not all of it. Read this post for more info; the answer is towards the bottom. In the comments section there is a link to a quick clip as well as links to some other segments which are available for viewing at The Paley Center For Media in New York and Los Angeles.

9. Why is it so hard to find a copy of "The Ernie Kovacs Record Collection"? Is this the same thing as "The Ernie Kovacs Album"?

They are two different things. Click the question to learn more about "The Ernie Kovacs Record Collection". "The Ernie Kovacs Album" was released in 1976 on Columbia Records and is a collection of some of Ernie's comedy bits committed to vinyl, many taken from TV audio. It's not the greatest but you can usually find reasonably priced copies floating around on ebay or sites of a similar nature.

On Tuesday, June 19, 2012, Omnivore Recordings released "Ernie Kovacs Presents Percy Dovetonsils...Thpeaks,"
a previously unreleased comedy album featuring Kovacs’ best known and beloved character, originally recorded in 1960.
You can order a copy, in a variety of formats including lavender vinyl, by visiting the link.

"The Edie Adams Christmas Album Featuring Ernie Kovacs," released by Omnivore Recordings on October 9, 2012, is also a must for your Kovacs record collection and features Ernie on a couple of the tracks. If you're an Edie fan even better; it's a great recording and she sings the heck out of these Christmas classics! Taken from audio transcriptions of the CBS morning show "Kovacs Unlimited," the sound is suprisingly good and it's worth the investment.

10. Is it true Ernie wrote for Mad Magazine? Why yes, it is!

11. Did Ernie have any children and is it true they were kidnapped? Are the children still alive?

Ernie had three children: daughters Elizabeth ("Bette") and Kip Raleigh ("Kippie") with his first wife Bette Wilcox and daughter Mia with Edie Adams.

Bette and Kippie were abducted. The court awarded Ernie full custody upon determining that his former wife was mentally unstable. This decision was extremely unusual at the time, setting a legal precedent. Wilcox subsequently kidnapped the children, taking them to Florida. After a long and expensive search, Ernie regained custody and raised the children with Edie Adams. One movie was made about the life of Ernie Kovacs. It starred Jeff Goldblum and was called "Ernie Kovacs: Between The Laughter". It's main subject is the kidnapping of Ernie's daughters.

Mia was an actress and was killed in a car accident eerily similar to the one that killed the father she hardly knew. Kippie passed away after a long illness. As far as we know, Elizabeth is still alive.

We get this question a great deal which is why an answer has been included. We don't have any personal contact with the surviving Kovacs family or cast members so please don't ask us for any further information.

12. What books about Ernie Kovacs should I own? How about videos? (See Question 9 for Records & CDs and
Question 13 for more info on Ernie's work as an actor in films.)

Visit our links page; listed there is everything relevant that is currently available with links to sites where you can purchase books and videos.

The most important are the two biographies (one by Diana Rico and one by David Walley) and the book by Andrew Horton (an analysis of Ernie's work as opposed to a biography) which are listed on the links page. Also listed there is Edie Adam's 1990 autobiography "Sing a Pretty Song: The Offbeat Life of Edie Adams, Including the Ernie Kovacs Years". "The Vision Of Ernie Kovacs", which is a collection of reminiscences and analyses of Ernie and his work by those who knew him best, is available through our own website. We acquired all the remaining inventory and sell it for a better price than you will find elsewhere (auction sites, second-hand dealers) plus the copies aren't used (AS OF MAY 2, 2012, WE ARE SOLD OUT OF THESE ITEMS. YOU CAN STILL VISIT THE PAGE AT THE LINK ABOVE TO LEARN MORE AND FIND OUT OTHER WAYS TO ACQUIRE THEM). You should also read the books Ernie wrote himself: "Zoomar" and "How To Talk At Gin". These are usually available through rare book dealers or for very good deals on eBay and similar sites and we've placed links to them on our links page. Another interesting read is "Ernie’s Journeys," a Kindle book by Rob Foster, which offers a variety of essays on Ernie and his influence; a link to this is on the links page. You may also be able to find some of these titles in your local library.

There are various books about the "Golden Age Of TV" that have devoted chapters to Ernie or have mentioned him but I feel that to really get an idea of the man you need to read the books listed above which are enitrely about him. Most of these other books simply expound on or rehash things that have already been written (many just quote the Rico or Walley books and then consider the ideas from those books) or they play fast and loose with the facts.

"The Ernie Kovacs Collection" 6 DVD set, released on April 19, 2011, is the most comprehensive collection of video available to date. This is a must have for the diehard fan or anyone interested in Ernie’s work. On April 17, 2012, disc 5 from the set was released as "Ernie Kovacs: The ABC Specials." Click the preceding link to learn more about this landmark set and to find out how you can order your copy.

On Tuesday, July 10, 2012, it was announced that "Shout! Factory" will release The Ernie Kovacs Collection: Volume 2
3 DVD set, consisting of some very interesting material not on "The Ernie Kovacs Collection," including the television pilot "The Medicine Man (A Pony For Chris)," which Ernie starred in with Buster Keaton and completed right before his untimely passing. The set must be ordered directly from "Shout! Factory" in order to receive a fourth bonus DVD containing seven full episodes of Ernie’s classsic game show, "Take A Good Look." Other online retailers DO NOT include the bonus disc, even during the pre-order period. The first volume of "The Collection" also had a bonus disc and once the all the copies were sold no more were produced; it's very important to act quickly to receive these bonus discs. You can pre-order the set directly from here by clicking the preceding link. To learn more about the contents of this new DVD set, visit The Ernie Kovacs Blog.

"The Best Of Ernie Kovacs" is another great collection but unfortunately is out of print. If you visit our links page and look in the "VIDEOS" section you will see links to Amazon and eBay where you can find used copies and sometimes new ones that haven't been sold yet. It originally came out as a five volume VHS set on April 29, 1992 with a two DVD version being released on November 28, 2000; the VHS release is easier to find but the DVD set is preferable because it contains extras. The DVD set is almost always sold in it's entirety whereas some sellers have the VHS set available as a whole or as individual volumes. These sets are basically a collection of television broadcasts of the same name which first aired on PBS in 1977. They are narrated by Ernie's close friend, the late Jack Lemmon. While some of the pieces on this set can also be found on "The Ernie Kovacs Collection", there is enough here that is different so that owning both is worthwhile.

On Tuesday, November 19, 2013, MVD Entertainment Group will release "Here's Edie: The Edie Adams Television Collection"! This is a 4 DVD, 12 hr set of the entire run of Edie Adams variety show which aired on ABC from 1962-64. It is the first-ever release of her classic variety show after more than 50 years. Bonus material includes Edie''s musical numbers from the Ernie Kovacs show, a 16-page booklet with rare photos, program notes and her iconic Muriel Cigar commercials. Here's a link to a press release which also lists the contents of the DVDs. Keep your eye on the links page where a link, when available, will be posted so you can pre-order the set.

There is also a VHS release called "Ernie Kovacs: A Collection of Sketches from the Hit T.V. Series" which is an out of print title released circa 1991 by Burbank Video. If you visit our links page and look in the "VIDEOS" section you will find links to Amazon and eBay where you can occasionally find a used copy. I've also seen sellers with "new" copies which I'm assuming means they bought the tape and never opened it; these are much more expensive.

Other VHS videos which can be found used are Ernie's "A&E Biography", titled "Ernie Kovacs: Please Stand By," and
"Ernie Kovacs: Between The Laughter,"
which has been the only bio pic about EK made thus far. This 1984 ABC-TV film starred Jeff Goldblum in the title role and is less about Ernie's career than it is about the kidnapping of Ernie's daughters and his quest to find them (see question #11). Although it's typical "made for TV" fare the actors do a credible job (especially Cloris Leachman as Ernie's mother Mary Kovacs) so it's worth a viewing even if you only view it once. A wonderful 1982 documentary hosted by John Barbour, "Ernie Kovacs: Television's Original Genius," is unfortunately not available on video but can be seen on John Barbour's website by clicking the preceding link. You can also visit our links page and look in the "VIDEOS" section for links to sites where you can purchase used copies of the Goldblum film.

An interesting and sort of quirky title available on DVD is the 1957 NBC broadcast of "Producer's Showcase: Festival Of Magic." Ernie was the host for this episode which features him introducing the acts and then cutting up between them. On our links page in the "VIDEOS" section you will see a link to a review I wrote of it as well as a link to a site where you can purchase it should that be of interest. I consider this mainly a curiousity since Ernie's involvement is limited and he has no interaction with the magicians. Given the lack of EK material avialable for legal purchase, however, it may be worth it to you to acquire a copy for your collection especially if you are a diehard Kovacs fan who also likes magic (I happen to be one of those so I enjoyed it).

On some auction sites you will see DVDs for sale that are homemade bootlegs of various legally released items. Still there are other items that were not commercially released and are not mentioned here which somehow folks have been able to obtain; they then make copies and try to sell these items. These are illegal and generally of very poor quality, especially since some of the source material isn't in the greatest shape to begin with. I suggest you avoid buying these items, the main reason being that the parties entitled to royalties receive no compensation for them. This in turn serves to discourage these same parties from releasing new material for fear of making only a small profit due to illegal duplication and/or file sharing. I'll admit this is just an educated guess on my part; if I owned the rights to something where I thought this would happen I'd want more money upfront and might not be able to find a distributor willing to provide it as it’s a bigger risk for them. Over the last few years some proposed new DVD collections of my favorite artists’ work (including EK) have been dropped and I'm convinced that this is at least partially to blame. Even the quality of most legally avialable EK video is OK but not great as a good portion of it comes from old grainy kinescopes. I've never seen anything, however, that wasn't watchable and the quality is always better than the illegally released material.

The Museum Of Broadcast Communications in Chicago has some very interesting EK files available to watch and listen to online. Visit our The Ernie Kovacs Blog and read "Video And Audio Clips On This Site" in the left hand column. There are instructions there on how to go about doing this.

Another wonderful resource is the Paley Center For Media, with locations in NYC and Los Angeles. There you can see some great Ernie Kovacs material that isn't available for purchase and which can't be seen anywhere else. If you live in or are visiting one of those areas we strongly suggest you stop by. The link will take you to a listing of everything they have regarding Ernie Kovacs so that you can plan your visit.

Be sure to check out our "Kovacs Christmas List" for some more great EK items you can look for when surfing the web, including links to other videos and shows which featured Ernie or Ernie and Edie.

It's also necessary to point out that in 2012 some selections of Ernie’s work have been made available on Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and iTunes. You can find links to these in the video section of the links page.

13. What films did Ernie appear in? Are any available on video? Also, is it true that Ernie had been given a role in "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World"?

Visit our "Kovacs Christmas List." Ernie made ten films and all ten titles are listed there along with a link to the film's IMDB page. Some of the films have been released on DVD and some are only available used on VHS; is the best place to search for the films.

Shortly before his death, Ernie had been chosen to appear as Melville Crump in Stanley Kramer's star-packed comedy "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World," with his own wife Edie Adams portraying his film wife, Monica Crump. When Ernie died the role went to comedian Sid Caesar.

14. I seem to remember that Ernie and Edie did commercials for a specific company. What was the name of it?

It was the Consolidated Cigar Corporation, makers of "Dutch Masters" and "Muriel" cigars. Ernie, an avid cigar smoker did the commercials for "Dutch Masters" which he created himself and are quite wonderful even if you're anti-smoking. Edie did some great spots for "Muriel". The company still makes these products but now operates under a different name.

An interesting side note is that the law which went into effect in 1971 banning tobacco ads on TV in the U.S. actually does NOT cover cigars. You don't see ads however. Sort of a self policing thing we suppose, since no other type of tobacco can advertise. So, if EK were still with us he could still make these spots.

Even though EK smoked up to 20 cigars a day, he would rarely smoke the "Dutch Masters", preferring his own Cuban Cigars. At least until the ban on trade with Cuba.

15. Is it true Ernie and Jack Lemmon were close?

They were best friends and made several films together. Visit our "Kovacs Christmas List" to see a list of all Ernie's films, including the ones with Jack. Jack Lemmon is also the narrator for "The Best Of Ernie Kovacs" two DVD / five VHS sets. These can be found used on Amazon and eBay as this title is now out of print. Check out the "VIDEOS" section of our links page for direct links to the title on these sites.

16. I have a link to some Ernie video clips, I've uploaded some clips, I've uploaded some recordings, I want to send you videos, CDs, etc. Can I do this? Will you post them?

This is answered clearly on our contact page yet amazingly people still send the emails.

Since you seem to need further explanation, go to the The Ernie Kovacs Blog and read "Video And Audio Clips On This Site" in the left hand column. That is your answer.

17. I work for a web design company, search engine company, etc. I sent you a sales email. When will you respond to my great offer?

WE WON'T. Please take us off your list. We have no interest. We delete anything and everything that falls into this category. Just like we told the folks who asked question 16: this is answered on our contact page but you felt the need to ask again. Shame on you.

18. I need the rights to some of Ernie’s work for a project or I have some other question/need regarding rights or licensing. Can you put me in touch with the right people?

You need to contact Josh Mills at Ediad Productions, Inc.. Please don't contact us as we don't hold the rights to any of Ernie’s work.

19. I'd like to contribute material to the site, suggest a blog post, share a reminisence, etc. How do I go about doing this?

This question is answered on our contact page.

20. I own some Ernie Kovacs memorabilia and want to know how much it's worth. Can you tell me?

While we always like to hear about these items and hope you'll share pics with us we're not going to assign a monetary value to them for you. People who appraise memorabilia get a percentage on the final sale because they're taking on the responsibility of assigning a price that may or may not be obtained; even if you're not selling the item you still get charged for an appraisal. Since we're not in the business of selling/appraising memorabilia and since this is a volunteer effort, we don't wish to take on that responsibility for free nor do we feel qualified to do it for pay. Here is a link to some auction posts on the blog. Here is another very informative post. This should give you a general idea of what some past EK and Edie items have sold for at auction and also lead you to some avenues where you can have your items appraised.

21. Is it true that Ernie hosted "The Tonight Show" for a while in the 1950s?

Yes, and this post gives a further explanation. Look in the comments section for some links to catalog info for segments which you can view when visiting The Paley Center For Media in New York and Los Angeles. Some segments are also included on "The Ernie Kovacs Collection" Bonus DVD, "Buried Treasures", which was offered as a limited edition with first runs of the set but is now out of print.

22. I'd like the contact information ⁄ address of an EK relative, former cast member, former crew member, etc.

This question is answered on our contact page.

23. There are other Ernie Kovacs sites besides this one, an "Ernie Kovacs Blog", pages on "MySpace", a couple of "Twitter" accounts and even some Facebook pages for EK. Who runs these?

This question is answered on our home page under the heading "ABOUT THIS SITE".

24. What can you tell me out Ernie’s first TV show, "3 To Get Ready"?

This page on The Broadcast Pioneers Of Philadelphia Website talks about Ernie’s early days on WPTZ in Philadelphia, particularly the legendary and first ever morning show on television, "3 To Get Ready". No copies of this program exist; in fact it’s listed on The Paley Center For Media’s "Television Programs We’re Looking For" list.

25. I'd like you to place a link to my site on , The Ernie Kovacs Blog ( or both. What are the requirements?

Almost all the links we have on our sites have to do directly with EK; some link back to us and some do not. In most cases we added them due to their relevance and not because we were asked to. If you request us to link to your site, however, you must provide a reciprocal link to us and we'd prefer that the site is somehow related to EK, classic television, film or that general era. As a rule we are not going to link to sites that are not of the same genre that we are. If you've already linked us without asking and you then ask for a reciprocal link we reserve the right to refuse if you don't meet the guidelines. If you feel we'd be a good match, send us an email by visiting our contact page. We will take a look at your site and get back to you.

I figure this just about covers it folks. This list is by no means comprehensive so when other FAQs about EK come to me I will add them in numerical order and post the date of the additions at the top right after the introduction. Thanks for stopping by and as Ernie might have said "It's Been Real!"