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RIP, Harvey Korman

May 30th, 2008 by Mike Nelson · 27 Comments

For those too young to remember, it’s impossible to overstate how beloved was Harvey Korman, particularly for his years on the hugely popular Carol Burnett Show and for his over-the-top turn in Blazing Saddles (and a few other Mel Brookes’ movies.) For my part, I remember him mostly for this, a (by modern standards shockingly slow) parody of Jaws. I guess it made such a huge impact because Jaws was my first solo movie when I was kid so seeing a parody of it was like opening a magical door to the world of good-natured mockery. I can’t really recommend you stick with the whole thing, but at 6:00 minutes you’ll see one of the classic Korman/Conway moments, in reaction to a line that would become a catch phrase in the Nelson house, or more accurately, a code phrase for the males, my two older brothers and (now late) father, one that baffled my mother.

He made a lot of people happy. God bless you Mr. Korman.

Tags: RiffTrax

27 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Clint on May 30, 2008 at 10:27 am

    Classic American TV comedy. I actually miss that leisurely pace, believe it or not. It gives the audience time to stew over the “good luck ham” line while Conway moves over to lean on the wall. He looks over to Korman, and it’s his downfall. Who (including the audience) can keep a straight face after that.

  • 2 Courtney on May 30, 2008 at 10:56 am

    “How did he do such amazing stunts with such small hands?”

    That right there is one of my favorite lines in the history of movies. He was a great talent and will be missed.

  • 3 Ben on May 30, 2008 at 10:56 am

    I loved the Carol Burnett show. It worked so well because Carol, Harvey, Tim Conway and Vicki Lawrence seemed closer than siblings. Watching Harvey and Tim interact was so good it should have been illegal. Nothing beat those times when the cast would make each other laugh during a skit.

    BTW I had no idea he was the voice of the “Great Gazoo” on “The Flintstones”. Knowing that will almost make those episodes tolerable…almost.

  • 4 Barry on May 30, 2008 at 10:56 am

    Some of the best toilet humor I’ve ever seen!

  • 5 Dan Noutko-Kennedy on May 30, 2008 at 11:14 am

    Audiences nowadays have no patience for slower gaited comedy which is so often more satisfying in the end. The sketchwork of Harvey Korman (either with or without Tim Conway breaking him up) follows in the tradition of Robert Benchley (to whom you recently paid tribute), W.C. Fields, Jack Benny, Bob & Ray and Bob Newhart (all of whom seemed to inspire a self-proclaimed “cowtown puppet show” called MST3K). Today’s “comedians” and SNL alumni would benefit greatly from some of this nuance and sublety. This more deliberate pace creates the perfect environment for the hilarious non-sequitor, ala the “good luck ham”, that sucker punches the likes of Mr. Korman as well as the rest of us who were lucky enough to share a few moments of our lives with him. Yes, God bless you Mr. Korman and thank you.

  • 6 Rob T Firefly on May 30, 2008 at 11:15 am

    That voodoo that he did so well will be sorely missed.

  • 7 Matt on May 30, 2008 at 11:28 am

    I have a lot of fond memories of watching The Carol Burnett Show as a child. Mr. Korman was always hilarious and somehow managed to keep the momentum of a sketch going while simultaneously cracking up. Of course I’m also a huge fan of his performance in Blazing Saddles.
    “That’s Hedley!”

  • 8 The Professor on May 30, 2008 at 11:54 am

    I loved watching Carol, Harvey, Tim & Vicki to see who would be the first to make the others “pee their pants” with laughter. I loved Harvey & Tim together the most, however. Slow paced comedy is tricky. You’d better have a great payoff at the end and they usually did.

  • 9 ms chii on May 30, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    i remember the carol burnett show. awesome! i knew him by face but not by name. but its nice to know.

    all the greats are passing….george burns, bob hope, etc

  • 10 ShutterBun on May 30, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    “such little feet” would be the more sensible (and correct) line. Though small hands may in fact be funnier.

  • 11 Darth Chimay on May 30, 2008 at 1:22 pm

    That’s *sniff* Hedley.

  • 12 RemmieBarrow on May 30, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    They really do not make comedy ledgends like that anymore. I mean they really don’t. I mean have you seen what passes as funny these days, yuck!

  • 13 Natureboy (Ken) on May 30, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    Mr. Korman,

    I, for one forgive you for the Star Wars Holiday Special.

    Just barely.


  • 14 Gamera on May 30, 2008 at 3:52 pm

    A childhood favorite was Count de Monet, and the scene when his barks at the Piss Boy to “wait for the shake.”

  • 15 A.M.P. on May 30, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    I count myself among the countless people that Korman has made happy. He was a great, unique comedic talent. I’m really sad to see him go. You do almost feel a sort of personal feeling of loss when someone who’s really entertained you for a long time passes on. RIP Harvey.

  • 16 Neb on May 30, 2008 at 5:17 pm

    Oooh, I LOVE Bob & Ray!

  • 17 Neb on May 30, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    Nooooo! *sniff*

    I loved watching the Carol Burnett show as a kid. I have very fond memories of some of the classic sketches, usually spoofs of movies like “Gone with the Wind”, “Laura”, “Bleak House”, etc. Funny, talented man.

  • 18 Chris Hutton on May 30, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    Count me among the numbers who enjoyed Korman on the Carol Burnett Show as a child.
    He was a truly gifted performer. Time for me to buy whatever DVDs of that show are for sale!

    Easy Taggert. It’s just a man and his horse being hanged!

  • 19 ShutterBun on May 30, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    Seriously…three washed up television D-listers selling audio tracks of themselves making fun of movies!?!?! Sheesh!

    I say gimmee mister Bob Hope, mister Danny Kaye, mister Milton Berle. Hey, if that’s old-fashioned, then I’m old-fashioned!

  • 20 ShutterBun on May 30, 2008 at 7:17 pm

    I too miss the days when Bob Marley and Ray Parker, Jr. could get their own shows. Nowadays it’s just old bald white guys who think they’re funny. Feh!

  • 21 Ryan on May 30, 2008 at 9:25 pm

    Are there DVDs of the Carol Burnett Show for sale? I haven’t found any on Amazon or to rent through Netflix.

    Does anybody know?

  • 22 Chris Hutton on May 31, 2008 at 5:45 am

    You didn’t look hard enough on Amazon then! I believe that the show was released like a Time-Life set— with 5 or 6 volumes. They are on Amazon.

  • 23 RemmieBarrow on May 31, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    Acctually I also add the cast of MST3K in with the list of comedy legends. They are definately better at comedy than Dane Cook or Jim Carrey are.

  • 24 Jeffrey Thames [King of Grief] on Jun 1, 2008 at 12:15 am

    I have all but Volume 7 of the Collector’s Edition series, actually released (for a limited time) by Columbia House in 2002. I still haven’t watched every volume…I should pull out a few this weekend, along with the prerequisite Blazing Saddles.

    For those with the 20 minutes to spare, I offer my favorite Carol Burnett Show sketch, and I must not be alone, as it’s featured in the first episode on the first volume of the Columbia House series. It’s the aforementioned parody of Gone With the Wind, featuring Mr. Korman as Captain Ratt Butler. (Note his facial expression at 2:31 of Part 2. Uncannily Gablesque.)

    Part 1:
    Part 2:

  • 25 Marty (Gromit) on Jun 5, 2008 at 9:53 am

    The Gone With the Wind parody is a classic, the Carol Burnett show was a big favorite when I was growing up.

    Just got Blazing Saddles on Blu-Ray a few days ago, lots of great extras on that disk. Sad to think so many from that movie are gone now.

  • 26 Kelly on Jun 11, 2008 at 5:52 am

    Thank you so much for providing us with this clip of a wonderfully funny man. One of the greats. Why is this kind of entertainment/talent so impossible to find? Have we really devolved that much as a culture that there is no place for this ’slow paced’ well-written, seemingly effortlessly performed comedy? And this was only a few decades ago! [As you can tell, I've turned into an Angry Old Fart. I'm not boring, though.]
    I shall watch ‘High Anxiety’ today, to honor the brilliance that was Harvey Korman. Thank you sir, and god bless you.

  • 27 Christopher Korman on Aug 25, 2009 at 10:11 pm

    I frankly think my dads cracking up ruined many of sketches for me. I found it bush league for Tim to break up my dad on purpose.I thought m dads best work was with Carol in Torchy Song or Went with the Wind.My father proved in many roles that he was more then a second banana.I loved my father more for the fact that he didn’t take his fame seriously.He wanted to be a working actor and provide for his family.Fame was a by-product of doing his job better then anyone could have expected.He was a exceptiomal father and father in law and Grandfather who will be missed for his self effacing charm and wit and humility.I love him and miss him and for those wrote those kind words God Bless you all.