KOVACSLAND by Diana Rico

KOVACSLAND

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Delightfully well-done life of American TV's wackiest, most original and bizarre comic genius. From the beginning, workaholic Kovacs, with his trademark black mustache and big Havana, began pushing the envelope of what's possible on TV, such as vacuuming the ceiling or throwing an egg at the viewer and letting it run down the screen. He was the son of Hungarian immigrants who hit big money bootlegging during Prohibition, then lost it--but not before giving Ernie a taste for the best things in life that aren't free. Young Ernie got on stage in high school and never left, went into summer stock and attended the New York School of the Theater. At 20, he was struck down by pleurisy, pneumonia, and tuberculosis, hospitalized for 18 months on Welfare Island, and the deaths of many about him ""forced on him an awareness of the fragility of life, and. . .cemented his determination to savor every precious minute."" Fame first arrived in Trenton with his cutup daily radio broadcasts as an early-morning host and platter spinner, grew with his simultaneous daily column in the Trentonian, and followed him to Philadelphia, where he broke into TV in its infancy and did a spoof chef show, Deadline for Dinner. When he became the summer replacement for Kukla, Fran and Ollie, his improv program was so nutty it was broadcast nationally as Ernie in Kovacsland and went wild with visuals never before attempted on the tube. Meanwhile, Ernie's bad gambling habit and spendthrift manner put him in deep difficulty. In Philadelphia he met and later married his second wife, singer-comedienne Edie Adams. Network roulette in New York put him into the big time, he began writing books, appearing in movies, did a big nightclub act with Edie in Vegas, outfitted a fabulous hitech house in Beverly Hills. His motto was ""Nothing in Moderation"" and he died--massively in debt--reaching for a cigar while driving on wet pavement. A man of boundlessly subversive, surreal wit whose time has come again, hopefully, with this nifty biography.

Pub Date: April 25th, 1990
ISBN: 0156472503
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich