CNN.com reports that Harvey Korman, director, producer and arguably one of the best comic actors in the business, died Thursday in Los Angeles from complications stemming from a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm. He was 81.
Korman, born in Chicago, Illinois got his start as a voice actor playing The Great Gazoo on The Flintstones. He was also a guest star on numerous ’50s and ’60s TV shows including The Munsters, Disney’s Wonderful World, Gidget, The Lucy Show, Route 66, Perry Mason and The Untouchables. His big break came in ’64 on The Danny Kaye Show and his career peaked in the ’70s, with the Mel Brooks comedies Blazing Saddles and High Anxiety, and a starring role on The Carol Burnett Show, for which he recieved four Emmys and a Golden Globe.
The versatile Korman spent 10 years on The Carol Burnett Show, where he, Burnett, Tim Conway, and Vicki Lawrence created a spontaneous, irreverent and inspired form of sketch comedy which would be unequaled for years to come. Korman’s speciality was vain and slightly prissy authority figures, who’s self importance often overwhelmed their good sense. He and Conway, who spent much of the last decade touring in a live show together, shared a special chemistry and a deep friendship, with Korman often toning down his performances to play Conway’s straight man, often getting laughs by simply doing nothing.
An assistant to Carrol Burnett, told The Associated Press that Burnett was devastated by Korman’s death: “She loved Harvey very much,”.
Korman is survived by current his wife Deborah and their daughter and by three other adult children Laura, Maria and Chris as well as three grandchildren.