Thursday, August 6, 2009


Nobody could make more laughter with less dialogue on television than video virtuoso, Ernie Kovacs. The mad master of tv mime showcased his manifold talents on a 1957, LIVING COLOR special, called THE SILENT SHOW on the NBC television network.It was a television experiment that showcased Kovacs in a selection of comedy vignettes, performed without dialog.

The protean performer was also a visionary television tactician. While many great comedians and their writers labored to translate radio comedy to television,Kovacs was one of the first performers who used the technical tools of the young medium to true creative purpose in pursuit of laughter. He was a remarkable producer.

Kovacs,born in 1919,was a native of Trenton NJ and , today,a bronze bust , sculpted in his honor, resides in the executive offices of New Jersey Public Television. He began his television career in 1950, hosting an early morning show called THREE TO GET READY on what was then Philadelphia's NBC affiliate, WPTZ-TV. Today that station,KYW-TV, is a CBS Owned and Operated station.

One footnote in television history is that the station cancelled THREE TO GET READY, at the request of the NBC-TV. Network executives wanted the Philadelphia affiliate to clear a new morning program they were launching in January of 1952, called THE TODAY SHOW.

A demonstrative , mercurial man who was devoted to his wife, singer/comedienne Edie Adams, and family, Kovac's was also known to be consumed by gambling. He died , sadly, in a 1962 auto accident when heading home from a poker game.

Beyond his work on the small screen, he leaves an eclectic legacy of film performances.There is no way to fully assess his impact on generations of television performers , producers and to his loyal audience.

Below is a clip from the Retro TV website that features a rare, LIVING COLOR,excerpt from THE SILENT SHOW. This video , repackaged, some years later for a TV special about Kovac's myriad talents, starts with narration from NBC-TV's late night legend, Johnny Carson. Enjoy!!!!!


  1. Paul,

    A very nice piece. I've seen the full color version at The Paley Center For Media and of course it's great. While Ernie appeared many times in color in the movies, this was the only time he ever appeared in color in one of his own shows. I wrote a piece on this in my Ernie Kovacs Blog back in 2007.

    Your comment about "TTGR" being removed for "The Today Show" is right on the money. I'd like to add that the President of NBC at that time, Pat Weaver, got the idea for "Today" when he saw how well Ernie was doing in Philly with a morning show. Up until that point in the early 1950s executives didn't think anyone watched TV in the morning. Pat saw the numbers, created "Today" based on a little less comedy orientated version of "TTGR", then turned around and told the affiliate "You have to take this feed." So in effect, EK's show was canceled for a show that was created because of the great work he was doing!

    Hope this adds a bit. Thanks for posting this!

    Al Quagliata, Webmaster

    The Ernie Kovacs Tribute Site
    The Ernie Kovacs Blog
    The Ernie Kovacs MySpace Fan Page

  2. Al,
    Thanks so much for your kind words and for
    taking the time to comment on this entry! Your observations add a lot!
    Many Thanks,
    Take Care,

  3. Paul,

    You're most welcome. I love your blog. I've been looking at other entries and you have some great posts.

    Getting the word out about the Golden Age Of TV is always important!

  4. Al,
    May I add alink to your Ernie Kovacs tribute Site?

  5. Al, I;ve posted the link to your Ernie Kovac's Blog. It's a wonderful page!!!!

  6. Paul,

    Thank you! We really appreciate it.

  7. Paul,

    I've just added a link to you on our blog as well. Keep up the great work!

  8. THANK YOU FOR THIS RARE TREAT! I've been trying to view the Silent Show in it's original color form, and now, you've made this possible! Is there anyplace I can buy it, or do you know if it will come out as part of a box set? Thank's again!

    Please forgive me, but I don't have the answer to your questions,btu I can refer you to Al's excellent Ernie Kovac's website:
    He may know the answer.Thanks for checking out the website.
    Take Care,
    Paul ( aka PAGEONE )