Harvey Korman was famed for making people laugh for the most part of his life. He wasn’t a stand-up comedian but a comedic actor who acted in a string of roles that propelled him to a widespread recognition.
He collaborated with actor/filmmaker Mel Brooks on many projects and would forever be remembered for his role in the sketch comedy, The Carol Burnett Show. Here is how Harvey Korman spent his 81 years on earth.
Life of Harvey Korman
Harvey Herschel Korman was born on the 15th of February 1927, in Chicago, Illinois to Jewish Russian immigrants, Ellen (née Blecher) and Cyril Raymond Korman. His father was a salesman. A World War II veteran, Korman began to pursue his interest in becoming an actor immediately after he was discharged by the United States Navy.
Korman attended Goodman School of Drama, the theater school at DePaul University. He began his acting career professionally in the year 1950. That same year, he became a member of the Peninsula Players summer theater programs and would subsequently be part of the 1957 and 1958 seasons.
The early days were not at all rosy for Korman as he tried to no avail to get Broadway and off-Broadway parts in New York. He retired to Chicago before making way to California where he began scoring voice parts. One of his earliest successes was a part in CBS’ The Danny Kaye Show.
After appearing in a couple of films, Korman made his TV debut in The Donna Reed Show. Throughout the early 60s, he was busy building up his resume by making appearances in as many TV shows as possible. Some of those TV shows included Hennesey, The Red Skelton Hour, Route 66 (where he played two different characters), Perry Mason, I’m Dickens, He’s Fenster, Dennis the Menace, and more. Around the same period, he appeared in three episodes of The Lucy Show.
Harvey Korman’s consistency culminated in his breakthrough which came as a series regular role in The Carol Burnett Show. The show was an instant hit, announcing Korman to people who had never heard of him. Thanks to the immediate positive reception of the show, it went on to become one of the most popular shows at that time.
As a result, it lasted for long giving Korman the opportunity to become a frequent face in the entertainment world. His role earned him a whopping 6 Emmy Award nominations, 4 of which he won including 1971’s “Outstanding Achievement” by a performer in music or variety. It was his second Emmy as he won his first in 1969. He scooped the award again in 1972 and 1974.
In addition to the Emmy, the Golden Globes also recognized his effort in making the show successful and as a result, he was nominated four times, one of which he won in 1975.
Harvey Korman’s success with The Carol Burnett Show set the tone for his future in the industry. He would then frequently book film gigs appearing in films like; Blazing Saddles, Huckleberry Finn, Huckleberry Finn, and High Anxiety. His only other TV show role at the time came in The Wild Wild West.
Harvey Korman remained active into the 80s and 90s but his frequency began to wane with the new millennium. In the later years of his career, Korman took up a number of voice gigs. He voiced Earl in The Wild Thornberrys and was inducted into the TV Hall of Fame in 2002.
Harvey Korman’s life wasn’t all about work. The funnyman also enjoyed being a family man and was in his lifetime married twice. He married Donna Ehlert from 1960 to 1977. Their union produced two kids; a daughter named Maria and her brother Christopher Korman.
Five years after his split from his first wife, Korman married Deborah Korman (née Fritz) in 1982. They remained married until death saw them part ways in 2008. The Harvey-Deborah union was blessed with two daughters; Kate and Laura Korman.
Harvey Korman did live a long and fulfilled life. He was one of those actors who avoided to be entangled in any type of controversy.
Unfortunately, the world had to bid him farewell on the 29th of May, 2008, the day he passed away as a result of complications from the rupture of an abdominal aortic aneurysm that occurred four months earlier.
Following the rupture, Korman survived through a couple of surgeries before his death in May at the UCLA Medical Center. The tall and lanky man is having his rest at Santa Monica’s Woodlawn Cemetery.