Harvey Herschel Korman
February 15, 1927
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
|Died||May 29, 2008 (aged 81)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Woodlawn Memorial Cemetery in Santa Monica, California|
(m. 1960; div. 1977)
Deborah Fritz Korman
Harvey Herschel Korman (February 15, 1927 – May 29, 2008) was an American actor and comedian who performed in television and film productions. His big break was being a featured performer on CBS' The Danny Kaye Show, but he is best remembered for his performances on the sketch comedy series The Carol Burnett Show, for which he won four Emmy Awards, as well as his partnership with Tim Conway. Korman also appeared in several comedy films by Mel Brooks.
Korman was of Russian Jewish descent and born in Chicago, the son of Ellen (née Blecher) and Cyril Raymond Korman, a salesman. He served in the United States Navy during World War II. After being discharged, he studied at the Goodman School of Drama at the Art Institute of Chicago (now at DePaul University) and at HB Studio. He was a member of the Peninsula Players summer theater program during the 1950, 1957, and 1958 seasons.
Korman's first television role was as a head waiter in The Donna Reed Show episode, "Decisions, Decisions, Decisions". He appeared as a comically exasperated public relations man in a January 1961 episode of the CBS drama Route 66. He was seen on numerous television programs afterwards including the role of Blake in the 1964 episode "Who Chopped Down the Cherry Tree?" on the NBC medical drama The Eleventh Hour and a bartender in the 1962 Perry Mason episode, "The Case of the Unsuitable Uncle." He frequently appeared as a supporting player on The Danny Kaye Show from 1963 through 1967. He was cast three times, including the role of Dr. Allison in "Who Needs Glasses?" (1962), on ABC's The Donna Reed Show. He also guest-starred on Dennis the Menace and on the NBC contemporary western series Empire.
From 1964 to 1966, he appeared three times in consecutive years on the CBS comedy The Munsters starring Fred Gwynne and Yvonne De Carlo. During the 1965–1966 season, Korman appeared regularly on ABC's The Flintstones as the voice of The Great Gazoo in its final season on network television.
The 1967 debut of The Carol Burnett Show gave Korman his greatest recognition. During his ten-year run on the show, he received six Emmy Award nominations and won four–in 1969, 1971, 1972, and 1974. The exact name of the category changed slightly during the period, but the award was for Outstanding Achievement by a supporting performer in music or variety show. He was also nominated for four Golden Globes for the series, winning that award in 1975. In 1977, he left The Carol Burnett Show to headline his own sitcom on ABC, The Harvey Korman Show, which only lasted five episodes.
While appearing on The Carol Burnett Show, Korman gained further fame by appearing as the villainous Hedley Lamarr in the 1974 Mel Brooks film Blazing Saddles. He also starred in Brooks' High Anxiety (1977) as Dr. Charles Montague. In 1978 he appeared in the CBS Star Wars Holiday Special providing levity in three of the special's variety segments: a cantina skit with Bea Arthur in which he plays a barfly who drinks through a hole in the top of his head, another as Chef Gormaanda, a four-armed parody of Julia Child, and one as a malfunctioning Amorphian android in an instruction video. In 1980, he played Captain Blythe in the Disney comedy, Herbie Goes Bananas. The following year, he portrayed Count de Monet in Brooks' History of the World, Part 1. In later years he did voice work for the live-action film The Flintstones as well as for the animated The Secret of NIMH 2: Timmy to the Rescue. He also starred in the short-lived Mel Brooks TV series The Nutt House, and in his final Mel Brooks film, as the zany Dr. Seward, in Dracula: Dead and Loving It. In 1986, he starred in the failed CBS comedy series Leo & Liz in Beverly Hills with Valerie Perrine.
In 1982 he reunited with Carol Burnett and Vicki Lawrence in the TV movie Eunice reprising his role of Ed Higgins from “The Family” sketches from The Carol Burnett Show. He continued the portrayal on the spin-off series, Mama’s Family in addition to introducing each episode of the series during its initial two-season NBC network run, portraying fictional television host Alistair Quince as well as directing 31 episodes of the series.
He also reunited with fellow Carol Burnett Show alumnus Tim Conway, making a guest appearance on Conway's 1980–1981 comedy-variety series The Tim Conway Show. The two later toured the U.S., reprising skits from the show and performing new material. A DVD of new comedy sketches by Korman and Conway, Together Again, was released in 2006. Korman and Conway had been jointly inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 2002.
Korman was married to Donna Ehlert from 1960 to 1977 and they had two children, Maria and Christopher Korman. He married Deborah Korman (née Fritz) in 1982 and was married to her until he died in 2008. They had two daughters together, Kate and Laura Korman.
Korman died at age 81 on May 29, 2008, at UCLA Medical Center as the result of complications from a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm he had suffered four months earlier. He is interred at Santa Monica's Woodlawn Cemetery.