Comedian and actor Tim Conway, best known for his role in TV’s McHale’s Navy and for making his co-stars on The Carol Burnett Show laugh, has died at 85.
He died on Tuesday morning from water on the brain, his rep told Variety.
Although Conway made his mark on the entertainment industry beginning in 1962, with his Emmy-nominated performance in McHale’s Navy, he continued giving critically acclaimed performances through the current decade. He starred in live-action Disney movies, including The Apple Dumpling Gang with Don Knotts and The Shaggy D.A., in the 1970s. He frequently guest-starred on the most popular shows of the day, including Married with Children and Mad About You. His turns on Coach and 30 Rock earned him Emmys.
Conway’s later work included voicing a character on SpongeBob SquarePants and The Simpsons.
The Ohio native, who ended up with six Emmys and one Golden Globe Award and many more nominations in all, was a natural performer.
“I had no professional training. I had a sense of humor and had been in front of a microphone,” he revealed on an episode of The Interviews: An Oral History of Television in 2004.
Nevertheless, Burnett considered him a master of comedy.
“There’s nobody funnier in the world, I don’t think, than Conway,” she said in an interview with the Television Academy Foundation published in 2012.
She quipped that she should have had “some investment in Depends, because nobody could be with Tim and keep a straight face,” particularly Burnett and Conway’s co-star Harvey Korman, who died in 2008. Korman was a close friend of Conway’s who often broke into laughs during Conway’s performances.
“[Conway] would do everything perfectly in the dress rehearsal, which we would tape, and then he would ask the director, ‘Did you get everything, Dave? And Dave did, and then he’d say, ‘OK,’” Burnett said. “And then we would let him do whatever he wanted on-air. And that was always gold.”
Burnett gave a statement following the sad news.
“I’m heartbroken. He was one in a million, not only as a brilliant comedian but as a loving human being,” she said. “I cherish the times we had together both on the screen and off. He’ll be in my heart forever.”
Conway was married twice, first to Mary Anne Dalton, from 1961 to 1978, and then to Charlene Fusco, whom he married in 1984. They have seven children between them.
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