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  • The Beverly Hillbillies

  • Daddy & Them

  • Wilder Napalm

  • Snowboard Academy

  • Slam Dunk Ernest

  • Ernest in the Army

  • Ernest Goes to Africa

  • Ernest Scared Stupid

  • Ernest Saves Christmas

  • Ernest Goes to Camp

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Jim Varney Biography

  • Profession: Actor
  • Born: Jun 15, 1949
  • Died: Feb 10, 2000

Gangling, Kentucky-born actor Jim Varney cut his professional teeth at Virginia's Barter Theater, a summer-stock concern specializing in vintage American melodramas. At his funniest when playing it totally straight, Varney was hired as a comedy-ensemble member of the 1976 TV variety series [[Feature~V26431~The Johnny Cash Show~johnnycarson]]. He went on to play Evel Knievel-takeoff Virgil Sims in Norman Lear's syndicated talk show spoofs Fernwood 2-Night (1977) and America 2-Night (1978). He was also seen as Seaman Broom on [[Feature~V127999~Operation Petticoat~operationpetticoat]] (1977), in another ensemble play on the ill-fated [[Feature~V161862~Pink Lady~pinklady]] (1980), as host of the 1982-1983 season of the country-western syndie Pop! Goes the Country, and as Evan Earp, a very distant descendant of Wyatt, on [[Feature~V42181~The Rousters~therousters]]. While this multitude of TV credits was impressive enough, Varney's true claim to fame rested in his dozens of commercial appearances, first as Sgt. Glory in a series of public service spots for the Southern Dairy Commission, then as dimwitted hayseed Ernest P. Worrell ("Hey, Vern!" "KnowhutImean?") in a variety of ads aimed at regional markets. Varney parlayed the Ernest character into a handful of videocassettes (many of these highlighted by profanity-peppered outtakes), a Saturday morning TV kiddie show titled Hey, Vern, It's Ernest (1988-1989), and seemingly endless series of low-budget, lowbrow film comedies bearing such titles as [[Feature~V15976~Ernest Goes to Camp~ernestgoestocamp]] (1987), [[Feature~V15978~Ernest Saves Christmas~ernestsaveschristmas]] (1988), and [[Feature~V15979~Ernest: Scared Stupid~ernestscaredstupid]] (1989). Outside of his by-now standard characterization, Jim Varney was quite effectively cast as mountain patriarch Jed Clampett in the 1993 film version of the old TV sitcom [[Feature~V119007~The Beverly Hillbillies~thebeverlyhillbillies]]. His biggest-profile role came with the 1995 blockbuster animated film [[Feature~V132294~Toy Story~toystory]], which found Varney cast as Slinky Dog. Varney reprised the role for the 1999 sequel [[Feature~V181134~Toy Story 2~toystory2]], and shortly before the release of the second film, Varney revealed he had been battling life-threatening lung cancer since August 1998. Late in 1999, he had experienced a remission from the cancer, but this was to be short-lived. His final battle lasted barely a couple of months after the sequel's release, with Varney succumbing to the disease in February 2000 at the age of 50. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi