Thursday, August 6, 2009
THE SILENT SHOW - RARE ERNIE KOVACS PANTOMIME SPECIAL - NBC-TV - CIRCA 1957
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!!!!!