Thursday, May 29, 2008
Harvey Korman, one of the funniest comedians in my lifetime, has died at the age of 81. Four months ago he suffered an abdominal aortic aneurysm, and should have died right then, but he held on, fought hard, but today the fight was lost. I remember as a kid watching the Carol Burnett Show, and losing my mind whenever Tim Conway would manage to break Korman up on stage, or vise versa. Conway and Korman were able to attack each other's funny bones without ruining the sketches, and that was the genius of their chemistry. Rather than ruin the material by trying to break each other up, they would ramp up the material until both they, and we the audience, were laughing so hard we feared a stroke. Korman took that comic wizardry with him to the big screen, most memorably as the land snatching villain Hedley Lamar in Mel Brooks's masterpiece, Blazing Saddles. He went on to play Dr. Charles Montegue in Brooks's High Anxiety(one of his most underrated films) and, of course, the Count de Monet in History of the World, Pt. 1. Something I didn't know until researching Mr. Korman for this blog is that he was the voice of Gazoo on The Flinstones. He was a staple of television, both on screen and as cartoon voices, until 2001 when he quietly retired. I have no doubt that he will be remembered in the same class as Charlie Chaplin, Red Skelton, and Danny Kaye. The world became a lot less funny today.
Rest in peace, Mr. Korman. Thanks for all the belly laughs.