Today is the anniversary of Jim Varney's birth.
You know, the guy from the commercials. Of course you remember them. "KnoWhutImean, Vern?", the famous (or annoying, depending on your preferences...) catchphrase of Jim's character Ernest P. Worrell, ran on so many dairy ads across the country that Varney was even granted trademark protection for the saying.
By the late 1980s, Ernest, who was created by the Nashville-based ad firm Camden and Cherry, proved too big for ads and gained a series of movies of his very own -- nine in total!
But did you know that the Lexington-born Varney began studying acting at age 8? As a student at Lafayette, he won state drama competitions. He portrayed Scrooge in a local theater production and even studied Shakespeare at Virginia's famous Barter Theater. He moved to New York, did dinner theater and off-Broadway, and landed a role as a regular on the Johnny Cash and Friends variety show.
Of course, you dance with the one who brung you, as the old saying goes, and Varney, who also played Jed Clampett in the Beverly Hillbillies film, won two Daytime Emmys for his Ernest role, for which he will always be known. He lost a battle with lung cancer in 2000, shortly after filming Billy Bob Thornton's film Daddy and Them. To learn more about Jim Varney, check out The Importance of Being Ernest, written by his nephew Justin Lloyd.
Happy Birthday, Jim Thanks for the laughs!!