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Hollywood Memorial

Ernie Kovacs

Legendary innovative television comedian, the epitaph on his grave marker reads ‘Nothing in Moderation.’ He is best remembered for creating many of the camera gags and camera techniques that are common today, influencing and inspiring such later shows as ‘Laugh-In,’ ‘Saturday Night Live,’ ‘The Today Show,’ and television hosts like Johnny Carson and David Letterman. He pioneered such ideas as blackouts, trick photography (such as rotating the camera to get an unusual angle), on-the-street interviews, and clowning with the camera crews and other backstage persons. His cigar was his trademark, and he rarely was without one in his broadcasts. Kovacs first married Bette Wilcox and when the marriage fell apart in 1952, he was awarded full custody of his two children, Bette and Kippie, setting a legal precedent, as the court normally gave children to their mother, but, in this case, the court felt that Bette was mentally unstable. Bette later kidnapped the two children and ran to Florida; and after a long and expensive search, Ernie was reunited with his children three years later, with the help of private detectives and police. Ernie would marry actress Edie Adams on September 12, 1954 in Mexico City, Mexico, and they would have one child, Mia Kovacs. Later, both Mia and Kippie would die in tragic automobile accidents. Kovacs died while driving a new 1962 Corvair Station Wagon, a car later made famous by Ralph Nader in his book, ‘Unsafe at any Speed.’ During a rainstorm, he lost control of the car on a curve, and hit a telephone pole. Police found an unlit cigar just out of reach of his arm, and theorized that he lost control while trying to reach for the cigar. When Kovacs died, he owed the US Government several hundred thousand dollars in back taxes (he believed the tax system was unfair, and refused to file his taxes in protest). His widow, Edie Adams, made television commercials and did other work to pay off the back taxes. Buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Hollywood Hills.