Who? You ask.
Ok, we admit it. We’re being tougher than usual with this week’s Monday quiz. Ernie Kovacs was a renowned TV comedian in the medium’s relatively early years with a creatively twisted comic sense that remains remarkably contemporary today.
He successfully parlayed his heralded mid-Fifties TV program, The Ernie Kovacs Show, into a truncated A-list stint in Hollywood. But is he remembered by classic movie fans today?
The Trenton, New Jersey native was versatile, an author and composer of pop music ditties among other comedic talents. But you may not fully realize that he was also a decent movie actor. His entire film career spans just five years from 1957 to 1962, the year he died just 10 days before his 43rd birthday.
Our quiz confines itself to that abbreviated film career since Kovacs made some pretty good pictures. The pallbearers at his funeral included Jack Lemmon, Frank Sinatra, Billy Wilder and Dean Martin. Yes, Kovacs did have his fans — and still does.
We’re indebted here to author Diana Rico for her 1990 tome Kovacsland: A Biography of Ernie Kovacs (Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich). On to our quiz.
1) Question: Kovacs was killed in a crash involving his Chevy Corvair while driving in Beverly Hills. What distracted him while he was driving? a) The amorous presence of his mistress in the front seat; b) the shapely behind of a young starlet walking down the street; c) a cigar he was trying to light; or d) the bottle of champagne he was trying to reach?
2) Question: During the filming of Carol Reed’s Our Man in Havana (1960), Kovacks favorably impressed a notoriously hard-to-impress fellow cast member. Who was it? a) Burl Ives; b) Alec Guiness; c) Noel Coward or d) Ralph Richardson.
3) Question: Following up the question above, what exactly did Kovacks do on the set to so impress this person? a) hired a gaggle of young women to sit naked in his hotel room to provoke a scandal; b) expose his bottom to actress Maureen O’Hara; c) got his head stuck in the clapper-board on the film set; or d) hit the local bars with frequency.
4) Question: What was Ernie Kovacs’ real name? a) Charles Buchinski; b) Irwin Goldberg; c) Andras Janos; or d) Joseph Homa?
5) Question: Who was Kovac’s second and final wife, a showbiz figure in her own right? a) Raquel Welch; b) Mamie Van Doren; c) Edie Adams; or d) Barbara Loden.
6) Question: What did Kovacs second wife have in common with Doris Day, Debbie Reynolds and Dorothy Lamour? 1) She was shapely with a keen sense of humor; b) she was an comedienne; c) she had to clean up the financial mess left by her husband; d) she was a good singer?
7) Question: Which one of the following did NOT costar with Kovacs in a movie? a) Cyd Charisse; b) Dan Dailey; c) Robert Wagner; or d) Edward G. Robinson.
8) Question: A tv movie biogpic, Ernie Kovacs: Between The Laughter, came out in 1984. Who played Kovacs? a) Robert Downey Jr.; b) Jeff Goldblum; c) Jeff Bridges; or d) Adrien Brody.
9) Question: On the night of Kovacs fatal auto accident, he had offered to give a lift to one of his pals, who luckily declined. Who was this famous personality? a) Walter Matthau; b) Milton Berle, c) Kathryn Grant; or d) Yves Montand.
10) Question: Exactly how many movies did Kovacs make, (and which one costarred John Wayne)? a) 21; b) 11; c) 19; or d) 12?