News People Veteran comedian Tim Conway dies aged 85

Veteran comedian Tim Conway dies aged 85

Tim Conway had won four Emmy awards. Photo: Getty
Tweet Share Reddit Pin Email

Legendary American comedian Tim Conway, who was best known for his role on The Carol Burnett Show, has died at the age of 85, according to his publicist. 

Howard Bragman said he died Tuesday morning in a Los Angeles care facility after battling a longtime illness called Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (NPH). 

Before passing away, Conway had suffered complications from NPH but showed no signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s, Mr Bragman told PEOPLE

Conway won four Emmy Awards on Burnett’s widely popular self-titled TV variety show (three as a performer, one as a writer) which he joined in 1975 after years as a frequent guest.

Celebrities took to social media to remember the comedy legend and beloved actor.

Actress Marlee Matlin took solace that Conway has been reunited with his Burnett co-star Harvey Korman, who died in 2008.

“Sad to read of the passing of Tim Conway. Both Tim AND Harvey Korman couldn’t have been any nicer AND funnier,” she tweeted. “Now together again making each other laugh. RIP.”

Comedian Christopher Titus also praised Conway’s talent.

“The first time I can remember laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe was watching Tim Conway on the Carol Burnett show. Every character infused with a lovable crazy that broke me week after week,” he tweeted.

Famous for his one-liner jokes and punchlines, Conway’s comedy sketches on Burnett’s show starting in 1968 provoked tears of laughter from the audience and castmates, catapulting him to stardom.

He was at his best with characters that were a little naive, clumsy or slow-witted, and especially when teamed with straight man Harvey Korman and given the chance to show off his improvisational and slapstick skills.

“Nobody could be with Tim and keep a straight face once he got on a roll,” Burnett said in a 2003 interview with the Television Academy Foundation.

She said Conway would stick with a sketch’s script through dress rehearsal but once it was time to tape the performance for a broadcast, he began freelancing.

His improvised antics often reduced his co-stars – especially his close friend Korman – to tears of laughter.

“I think Conway’s goal in life was to destroy Harvey,” Burnett told the Television Academy Foundation.

Conway (R) poses withr Harvey Korman after winning Best Supporting Actor. Photo: Getty

In one popular skit, Conway’s portrayal of an inept dentist who accidentally injects himself with painkiller resulted in Korman, who was playing the patient, laughing so hard that he wet his pants, Burnett said.

Conway’s other most memorable recurring characters included an elderly man whose shuffling pace always caused trouble and Mr Tudball, a businessman plagued by an indifferent and inept secretary played by Burnett.

“People have often asked me, ‘If you weren’t in show business, what would you be doing?'” Conway wrote in his memoir What’s So Funny?: My Hilarious Life.

“The truth is I don’t think there’s anything else I could be doing so the answer would have to be, nothing … I guess you could say I’m in the only business I could be in.”

His popularity on the Burnett program led to his own shows – a sitcom in 1970 and a variety show in 1980 – and they lasted about a year each. He said they failed because he was not comfortable being the star.

Before Korman’s death in 2008, he and Conway toured with an act that featured stand-up comedy, recreations of their better-known skits and question-and-answer sessions with the audience.

His movie work included The World’s Greatest Athlete in 1973, The Apple Dumpling Gang in 1975, The Shaggy D.A. in 1976, The Prize Fighter in 1979 and Private Eyes in 1980.

Conway also starred in the Dorf series of short videos as a sawed-off golf instructor, borrowing the accent his Mr Tudball character used. He said Dorf was one of his favourite characters.

Conway, who was born on December 15, 1933, grew up near Cleveland and after serving in the Army worked in Cleveland radio and developed comedy routines.

Actress Rose Marie, a co-star on The Dick Van Dyke Show, liked his work and helped him get a regular spot on The Steve Allen Show in the early 1960s.

-with AAP