LOS ANGELES - Harvey Korman, 81, the tall, versatile comedian who won four Emmys for his outrageously funny contributions to
The Carol Burnett Show
and costarred on the big screen in
, died yesterday.
Mr. Korman died at UCLA Medical Center after suffering complications from the rupture of an abdominal aortic aneurysm four months ago, his family said.
A natural second banana, Mr. Korman gained attention on
The Danny Kaye Show
, appearing in skits with the star. He joined the show in its second season in 1964 and continued until it was canceled in 1967. That same year, he became a cast member in the first season of
The Carol Burnett Show
Burnett and Mr. Korman developed into the perfect pair with their burlesques of classic movies such as
Gone With the Wind
and soap operas like
As the World Turns
. (Their version was called "As the Stomach Turns.")
Burnett was devastated by the news of Mr. Korman's death, said her assistant, Angie Horejsi. "She loved Harvey very much," Horejsi said.
Mr. Korman revealed the secret to the long-running show's success in a 2005 interview.
"We were an ensemble, and Carol had the most incredible attitude. I've never worked with a star of that magnitude who was willing to give so much away."
After 10 successful seasons, he left in 1977 for his own series. Dick Van Dyke took his place, but the chemistry was lacking and the Burnett show was canceled two years later.
The Harvey Korman Show
also failed, as did other series starring the actor.
"It takes a certain type of person to be a television star," he said in the 2005 interview. "I didn't have whatever that is. I come across as kind of snobbish and maybe a little too bright. . . . Give me something bizarre to play or put me in a dress and I'm fine."
His most memorable film role was as the outlandish Hedley Lamarr (who was endlessly exasperated when people called him Hedy) in Mel Brooks' 1974 Western satire,
He also appeared in the Brooks comedies
The History of the World Part I
Dracula: Dead and Loving It
, as well as two "Pink Panther" movies,
Trail of the Pink Panther
in 1982 and
Curse of the Pink
Mr. Korman's other films included
(as the King),
Herbie Goes Bananas
Bud and Lou
(as legendary straightman Bud Abbott to Buddy Hackett's Lou Costello). He also provided the voice of Dictabird in the 1994 live-action feature
In television, Mr. Korman guest-starred in dozens of series including
The Donna Reed Show
The Wild Wild West
The Muppet Show
The Love Boat
The Roseanne Show
In their 70s, he and Tim Conway, one of his Burnett show costars, toured the country with their show "Tim Conway and Harvey Korman: Together Again." They did 120 shows a year, sometimes as many as six or eight in a weekend.
Harvey Herschel Korman was born Feb. 15, 1927, in Chicago. He left college for service in the Navy, resuming his studies afterward at the Goodman School of Drama at the Chicago Art Institute. After four years, he decided to try New York.
"For the next 13 years I tried to get on Broadway, on off-Broadway, under or beside Broadway," he told a reporter in 1971.
After returning to Chicago, he decided to try Hollywood, reasoning that "at least I'd feel warm and comfortable while I failed."
For three years he sold cars and worked as a doorman at a movie theater. Then he landed the job with Kaye.