Tim Conway dies; comedian’s comedian and ‘Carol Burnett Show’ star was 85
Tim Conway, the comedian’s comedian best known for his work on “The Carol Burnett Show,” died Tuesday morning in Los Angeles, his rep, Howard Bragman, confirmed to The Times. He was 85.
Conway died in a long-term care facility after suffering complications of hydrocephalus, Bragman said.
The actor claimed he was born funny: “I am not really qualified to do anything but screw up,” he told The Times in 2013.
Conway, who was born in a suburb of Cleveland, majored in speech and radio at Bowling Green State University. After having worked in Cleveland radio and TV and having a stint on “The Steve Allen Show” in New York, Conway came to prominence as a bumbling ensign in “McHale’s Navy” opposite Ernest Borgnine from 1962 to 1966.
The next year, “The Carol Burnett Show” premiered with Conway as a frequent guest star. The series, which ran until 1978, redefined his career as he played such characters as the Swedish American Mr. Tudball, but it took a long time for Conway to become a regular.
Fortunately, he had a knack for making costar Harvey Korman laugh. And Burnett. And just about anyone else who played opposite him in a skit on “The Carol Burnett Show” in the 1960s and ’70s. Audiences laughed, too.
“All of a sudden in the ninth season of the show, we said, ‘Why don’t we have Tim on every week?’” Burnett told The Times in 2010. “He was already on about every other week. It was like ‘duh.’”
“This lady is responsible for my career,” Conway said in response.
Conway, who changed his first name from Thomas to Tim so as to avoid confusion with actor Tom Conway, had his own short-lived sitcom in 1970. He also starred in the “Apple Dumpling Gang” movies in the 1970s and made a string of DVDs, starting in the 1980s, as the 4-foot-tall athlete Dorf. He later gained fame with a new generation as the voice of Barnacle Boy on “SpongeBob SquarePants.”
During his career, Conway won six Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe.
Times staff writer Nardine Saad contributed to this report.
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