Jim Varney

Jim Varney

Highest Rated: 100% Toy Story (1995)

Lowest Rated: 0% 3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain (1998)

Birthday: Jun 15, 1949

Birthplace: Lexington, Kentucky, USA

A staggering array of more than 4,000 television commercial appearances as motormouthed pitchman Ernest P. Worrell helped to boost actor Jim Varney from television comedian to starring roles in "The Beverly Hillbillies" (1993) and "Toy Story" (1995) before his untimely death in 2000. Born James Albert Varney, Jr. on June 15, 1949 in Lexington, Kentucky, his ability to memorize long poems and fiction passages, as well as a knack for imitating voices on cartoons, led to enrollment in children's theater. He soon established himself as a talented performer, winning local drama competitions and working the nightclub circuit in his teenaged years, which soon led to roles in summer stock theater and at the famed Opryland USA theme park. Performances at the Comedy Store helped Varney earn a route into television, first as a sketch player on "Johnny Cash and Friends" (CBS, 1976) and later, as various rural types on episodic series, including mechanic-turned-daredevil Virgil Simms on "Fernwood 2-Night" (syndicated, 1977) and hardluck sailor "Doom and Gloom" Broom on "Operation Petticoat" (ABC, 1977-1979). However, Varney's path to fame would come via an unlikely source: regional television commercials. Having played a tough drill instructor, Sgt. Glory, in a series of ads for the Southern Dairy Commission, Varney was tapped by advertising executives John Cherry III and Jerry Carden to play Ernest P. Worrell, a rubber-faced yokel who harangued an off-screen neighbor named Vern to try various products. After making his debut appearance in a commercial for an amusement park in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Cherry and Carden licensed Ernest for use in promotional campaigns throughout the South, including Laclede Gas, Braum's Ice Cream and countless auto dealerships. Ernest's influence soon expanded to California and the Mid-Atlantic states, which prompted Varney and Cherry to compile a collection of comedy video shorts for the direct-to-video release "Knowwhutimean? Hey Vern, It's My Family Album" (1983). To the surprise of many, it proved exceedingly popular, as did Ernest's first theatrical feature, "Ernest Goes to Camp" (1987). Ernest was soon a near-ubiquitous presence in American media, with eight features, all overseen by Cherry and four issued by Walt Disney Pictures, unspooling between 1988 and 1998, a short-lived television series, "Hey, Vern, It's Ernest!" (CBS, 1988), which earned Varney a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Performing in a Children's Series, as well as a seemingly ceaseless string of television commercials. As with all pop culture fads, Ernest's popularity began to wilt in the early '90s: his features no longer earned theatrical release, but by that time, Varney had begun to escape his chatterbox screen persona. He gave a well-regarded turn as Jed Clampett in a big-screen adaptation of "The Beverly Hillbillies," and endeared himself to a new generation of young children as the voice of the faithful Slinky Dog in "Toy Story" and its 1999 sequel. In interviews, Varney hoped to step into serious roles - he had performed Shakespeare in summer stock - but harmless, kid-friendly features and television proved to be his most consistent showcase. He would never have the opportunity to display his classical talents: Varney was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1998, but continued to act while undergoing chemotherapy to combat the disease. He experienced a brief remission, and made what would be his final screen appearance in the Billy Bob Thornton comedy "Daddy and Them" (2001). He died before its release on February 10, 2000.

Highest rated movies

Photos

Filmography

Movies

Credit
49% 53% Atlantis: The Lost Empire Cookie (Voice) - 2001
86% 54% Daddy and Them Hazel Montgomery (Character) - 2001
No Score Yet 89% Existo Marcel Horowitz (Character) $12.2K 1999
100% 87% Toy Story 2 Slinky Dog (Voice) $245.9M 1999
No Score Yet 43% Treehouse Hostage Carl Banks (Character) - 1999
0% 29% 3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain Lothar Zogg (Character) $308.1K 1998
17% 32% Ernest in the Army Ernest (Character) - 1998
No Score Yet 73% Annabelle's Wish Unknown (Character) - 1997
60% No Score Yet 100 Proof Rae's Father (Character) - 1997
No Score Yet 28% Snowboard Academy Rudy James (Character) - 1997
No Score Yet 29% Ernest Goes to Africa Ernest P. Worrel/Hey You, the Hindu/Auntie Nelda/African Woman Dancer (Character) - 1997
100% 92% Toy Story Slinky Dog (Voice) $31.3M 1995
No Score Yet 31% Slam Dunk Ernest Ernest (Character) - 1995
No Score Yet 20% The Expert Snake (Character) - 1994
No Score Yet 37% Ernest Goes to School Ernest (Character) - 1994
22% 32% The Beverly Hillbillies Jedidiah 'Jed' Clampett (Character) $42.2M 1993
14% 43% Ernest Rides Again Ernest (Character) $1.4M 1993
25% 54% Wilder Napalm Rex (Character) $56.2K 1993
17% 50% Ernest Scared Stupid Ernest (Character) $14.1M 1991
13% 48% Ernest Goes to Jail Ernest P. Worrell/Mr. Felix Nash/Auntie Nelda (Character) $25M 1990
No Score Yet 41% Fast Food Wrangler Bob Bundy (Character) - 1989
36% 42% Ernest Saves Christmas Ernest P. Worrel/Aster Clement, the governor's student/Auntie Nelda ('Mrs. Brock, Marty's Mother')/The Snake Guy (Character) $28.1M 1988
62% 51% Ernest Goes to Camp Ernest P. Worrell (Character) $23.4M 1987
No Score Yet 39% Dr. Otto and the Riddle of the Gloom Beam Dr. Otto/Rudd Hardtact/Laughin' Jack/Guy Dandy/Auntie Nelda/Ernest P. Worrell (Character) - 1986
No Score Yet No Score Yet The Rousters Evan Earp (Character) - 1983
No Score Yet No Score Yet Operation Petticoat Seaman "Doom & Gloom" Broom (Character) - 1977

TV

Credit
85% 76% The Simpsons Cooder (Guest Voice) 1998
76% 68% Roseanne Prince Carlos (Guest Star) 1996
No Score Yet No Score Yet Hey Vern, It's Ernest! Ernest P. Worrell (Character) 1988
No Score Yet No Score Yet The Rousters Evan Earp (Character) 1983-1984
No Score Yet No Score Yet Norm Crosby's Comedy Shop Guest 1979
No Score Yet No Score Yet Operation Petticoat Seaman 'Doom & Gloom' Broom (Character) 1977-1979
No Score Yet No Score Yet Alice Unknown (Guest Star) 1978

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