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The Journal Gazette

  • Associated Press Carol Burnett and veteran comrade in comedy Tim Conway laugh during a gala birthday party for Burnett in Los Angeles in 1986. Conway died Tuesday at age 85.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019 1:00 am

'One-in-a-million' Tim Conway, 85, dies

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES – Tim Conway, the impish second banana to Carol Burnett who won four Emmy Awards on her TV variety show, starred aboard “McHale's Navy” and later voiced the role of Barnacle Boy for “Spongebob Squarepants,” has died. He was 85.

Conway died Tuesday morning in a Los Angeles care facility, according to Howard Bragman, who heads LaBrea Media. Conway's wife, Charlene Fusco, and a daughter, Jackie, were at his side. The cause was a disorder in which there is an excess of fluid on the brain, Bragman said.

Burnett said in a statement Tuesday that she was heartbroken. “He was one in a million, not only as a brilliant comedian but as a loving human being. I cherish the times we had together both on the screen and off. He'll be in my heart forever.”

A native of Ohio, Conway credited his Midwestern roots for putting him on the right path to laughs, with his deadpan expression and innocent, simple-minded demeanor.

“I think the Midwest is the heart of comedy in this country, and a little bit of the South, too,” he told the Wisconsin State Journal in 2005.

Those qualities probably contributed to his wide popularity on “The Carol Burnett Show,” which he joined in 1975 after years as a frequent guest. The show aired on CBS from 1967 to 1978.

“We really didn't attack people or politics or religion or whatever. We just made fun of, basically, ourselves,” he said.

The show operated with just five writers, one producer, one director and without network interference.

The ensemble cast surrounding the redheaded star also included Vicki Lawrence and Lyle Waggoner.

Besides the four Emmys he won with Burnett (three as a performer, one as a writer), he won Emmys for guest appearances in 1996 for “Coach” and in 2008 for “30 Rock.”