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Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

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Hollywood memories -- Edie Adams


Television loses one of its greatest artists: Ernie Kovacs.


At left, Ernie Kovacs' death left Edie Adams in financial straits. One way she recouped was by making ads for Muriel Cigars. After all, Kovacs was a famous cigar smoker (although he advertised for Dutch Masters).

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Comments (7)

Muriel Cigars was a Dutch Masters brand. On all those wonderfully surreal Kovacs shows sponsored by the Masters an Edie Adams "Why don't you come up and smoke me some time" spot would be seen. Ernie Kovacs engendered intense loyalty from stagehand to sponsor.

Just thinking about his characters and creatiions still makes me smile more than forty years later.

Ernie Kovacs was the Hungarian Master.

I feel the shock and sadness of Kovacs' death as i did when i heard it that Saturday. His shows were brilliant, pure comedic art for their time, surrealistically fascinating now. One of the most memorable clips is of Kovacs in coke bottle-thick glasses reading suggestive poetry while Mack the Knife from Three Penny Opera played in German, incongruously, in the background.

The Times' story does not report what Edie Adams admitted later on, that she and he were in a race to get home first. She always blamed herself for going along with it.

Her shows on ABC, picking up on the exact schedule Ernie's were on, app one half-hour every couple of months, were watched almost out of tribute to him. His absence left viewers more saddened than entertained. She was very sexy and adorable, but alone did not draw like he did.

I remember one story informing readers that "blood dripped down the cigar his mouth still clenched." Probably apocryphal, for dramatic effect.

It looks like the car he was driving was a Corvair. Hmmm.

Yes, Kovacs was driving a Corvair station wagon. However, in my extensive research of Kovacs, I've never found one quote from anyone, including Edie, that she was racing him home that night. I'd love to see where you got your information from.

Edie was never as popular as Ernie - you watched Ernie and got Edie as a bonus, but if you watched Edie, it was because you really wished Ernie was still going to show up. Also, they watched knowing she was paying off Ernie's debts - she did publicize that quite a bit. She wasn't that great to Ernie, but she did keep his memory and work alive.

He didn't die with a cigar in his mouth, so yeah, apocryphal for sure.

And your coke bottle glasses wearing poet was "Percy Dovetonsils" can see him on YouTube.

One afternoon, on a whim, I drove to the intersection of Santa Monica Blvd. and Beverly Glen, just to try to visualize what happened. If I am not mistaken, there is still a cluster of utility poles on the specific corner. It is actually quite easy to see how a turn taken too fast on a wet road could snag the wheel on the center divider and send a car spinning into it. It seems it would not have happened if the car was stopped at a red light and then started from a green. Ernie must have made the intersection on the green, and just sped through it. Just think of all the extra years of comedic joy we've been denied, because of an ill-timed green light.

Ernie Kovacs was my first introduction to creative comedy and his skewed take on life has influenced me in how I look at the world.
His death was, and still is, a great loss.

I was in Los Angeles for the first time last November, and visited the Kovacs family graves in Glendale. No desire to see the others, but Ernie was my hero, even as a young boy. If you got the joke, it said something good about you, too. Ernie might have approved of your being able to understand his humor.

He and Edie hung out with an impressive group, Jack Lemmon, for one. Just before the casket was closed, Jack placed a couple of Ernie's beloved Cuban cigars into hi coat pocket.

I'm wondering what became of the Corvair in which he died. Was it purchased by someone, parted out, or simply crushed or shredded.

On the bronze tablet, it reads: "We all loved him.", and indeed we still do.


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