Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Tim Conway, Voice of Barnacle Boy on SpongeBob SquarePants, Passes Away Aged 85

Tim Conway, the actor known to millions of fans around the world as the voice of Barnacle Boy on Nickelodeon's animated series SpongeBob SquarePants, has died at the age of 85.

He passed away at 8:45 a.m. PDT in the Los Angeles area on Tuesday, May 14, 2019, his rep Howard Bragman confirmed to PEOPLE.

A representative for the late actor told Variety that Conway died from the result of water on the brain.

Update (5/14 at 9:27 BST): Nickelodeon has payed tribute to the actor on the official SpongeBob Instagram page:

The news follows Ernest Borgnine, who provided the voice of Mermaid Man, who Barnacle Boy is the sidekick of, passing away in 2012. Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy are Batman and Robin-esque elderly superheroes, and SpongeBob's heroes.

Prior to his death, he suffered complications from Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (NPH) and had no signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Conway is survived by his wife of 35 years, his stepdaughter, his six biological children and two granddaughters. In lieu of flowers or gifts, the family would like donations to be made to The Lou Ruvo Brain Center at the Cleveland Clinic in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The beloved actor is also known for his work on The Carol Burnett Show, winning viewers over with characters like the Oldest Man and Mr. Tudball, whose accent he has said was inspired by his Romanian mother. He was known to ad-lib his sketches — even surprising his scene partners — and won a Golden Globe Award for the series in 1976, along with Emmys in 1973, 1977 and 1978.

At a 2013 event promoting his memoir, What’s So Funny? My Hilarious Life, Burnett, now 86, painted her collaborator as an on-set prankster.

“Tim’s goal in life was to destroy [costar] Harvey Korman,” she told the crowd, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“Harvey wet his pants,” Conway bragged.

It’s an anecdote he also recalled in a 2013 interview with the Los Angeles Times.

“Harvey never saw what I was going to do until he was actually doing the sketch,” he said. “As a matter of fact in the dentist sketch you can actually see Harvey wet his pants from laughing.”

Before making his mark in Hollywood, Conway studied TV and radio at Bowling State University and enlisted in the Army, where is goofiness already shone through. In the L.A. Times interview, he remembered misplacing his rifle before a 4 a.m. drill.

“I looked in the garbage and there was this long neon tube,” he remembered. “So I took that. As the lieutenant came around the corner. I said, ‘Halt.’ I am pointing this bulb at him and he said ‘What is that?’ I said, ‘It’s a light bulb and if you come any closer, I’ll turn it on.’ He had very little sense of humor. I spent an extra two weeks [in the service] painting rocks in Seattle.”

After his military service, he worked at a local station in Cleveland.

“I had no professional training. I had a sense of humor and had been in front of a microphone,” Conway said of his show business beginnings on an episode of The Interviews: An Oral History of Television in 2004.

He appeared as a guest star on The Carol Burnett Show for eight seasons before becoming a regular in 1975.

“They used to do 33 shows a year on Burnett,” he told the L.A. Times. “She said why don’t you just be a regular on the show? I said I will tell you what. I will do 32 shows and leave one week open at the end, so I can guest on somebody’s show. I always guested on her show, but I did have the right to go somewhere else. My job on every show was to break everybody up.”

His own sitcom, The Tim Conway Show, had lasted one season in 1970. His variety show of the same name aired from 1980-81.

Conway also starred on McHale’s Navy and even made a special appearance on the second season of 30 Rock, for which he received an Emmy.

Conway’s death comes after his daughter Kelly and wife Charlene had been fighting over his care.

Kelly filed court documents asking to be appointed conservator of her father in order to be in charge of his medical treatments in in August 2018. She alleged that Charlene was “planning to move him out of the excellent skilled nursing facility he is currently at” and place him into a lesser quality home. She claimed her father could not “properly provide for his personal needs for physical health, food, and clothing” and is “almost entirely unresponsive.”

Days later, Kelly sought a temporary restraining order to stop the move. But in March, Charlene was appointed conservator of her husband.

Before his wedding to Charlene in 1984, Conway was married to Mary Anne Dalton from 1961-78. Together they share seven children: sons Jaime, Tim Jr., Pat, Corey and Shawn and daughter Jackie and Kelly.

R.I.P. Tim Conway, December 15, 1933 – May 14, 2019.

From SYFY Wire:


im Conway, the beloved American comedian and actor who voiced the aging superhero known as Barnacle Boy on Nickelodeon's SpongeBob SquarePants, has passed away at the age of 85, Variety confirms. Per a representative for the late actor, Conway died Tuesday morning in Los Angeles from the result of water on the brain.

While well-known to the Baby Boomer generation for his comedic work on McHale's Navy and The Carol Burnett Show, Conway also endeared himself to Millennials and Generation Z, even if they don't know him by sight. That's because he voiced the character of Barnacle Boy on SpongeBob, the sailor's uniform-wearing super-sidekick to Mermaid Man, who was played by Conway's McHale's Navy co-star, Ernest Borgnine (1917-2012).

First introduced in the 1999 episode entitled "Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy," the two humanoid heroes were once the stars of a show clearly inspired by the Batman '66 series, albeit with an Aquaman-influenced twist. In said episode, we learn that SpongeBob (Tom Kenny) and Patrick (Bill Fagerbakke) are huge fans of the these once-great crime-fighters, who have long since moved to the Shady Shoals retirement home to live out there golden years as senior citizens.

Credit: Earl Gibson III/WireImage

Thanks to SpongeBob and Patrick's bothersome fanboy ways, Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy were forced to come out of retirement, making recurring appearances in Bikini Bottom for more than a dozen episodes. Barnacle Boy got his chance to shine in 2002's "Mermaidman and Barnacle Boy V," where he turned temporarily evil, allying himself with Man-Ray (John Rhys-Davies) and the Dirty Bubble (Kenny), after Mermaid Man wouldn't stop treating him like a little kid.

The Batman '66 parallels came full circle in the 2010 episode, "Back to the Past," where younger versions of the two heroes were voiced by Adam West (1928-2017) and Burt Ward.

"I was heartbroken today to find out the our beloved Barnacle Boy had passed away," Carolyn Lawrence, voice of Sandy Cheeks, tells SYFY WIRE. "It wasn’t that long ago that we lost Mermaid Man (Ernest Borgnine) as well. Working with Mr. Conway was one of the highlights of my career. I was always a huge fan and it never crossed my mind that I’d actually find myself working along side him one day. He couldn’t have been kinder and was funny as heck. His passing leaves a huge hole in our Bikini Bottom hearts."

Born as Thomas Daniel Conway in Willoughby, Ohio, Conway majored in speech and radio at Bowling Green State University near Toledo before serving in the Army during WWII. His show biz career began at a radio station where he wrote for the promotional department. As he pursued acting, his birth name was changed to "Tim" because there was already someone named "Tom Conway" working as a thespian in Hollywood.

Throughout his career, which included a number of comedies for Disney, Conway nabbed a whopping 13 Emmy nominations, securing wins for six of them. Alongside his iconic contributions to SpongeBob, he also voiced characters in cartoons like Hercules (the TV spinoff), The Wild Thornberrys, What's New, Scooby-Doo?, and The Proud Family.

"We are sad to learn Tim Conway, the legendary voice of Barnacle Boy, has passed away. Thank you for everything you contributed to Bikini Bottom," reads a post from the official SpongeBob account on Facebook.

Conway is survived by his second wife, Charlene Conway, and the seven children he had by his first wife, Mary Anne Dalton.


From Variety:

Tim Conway, Comedian and ‘Carol Burnett Show’ Star, Dies at 85

Tim Conway, the agile comedian who was a core member of the “The Carol Burnett Show” troupe and starred in a string of Disney film comedies in the 1970s, died Tuesday morning in Los Angeles. He was 85.

A rep for Conway tells Variety he died from water on the brain.

Over his long career, Conway was nominated for 13 Emmys and won six. For “The Carol Burnett Show,” he was nominated six times as a supporting performer in a variety or comedy series, winning in 1973, 1977 and 1978. He was also nominated as part of the writing staff for the show, drawing three nominations and winning in 1978. In addition to those four Emmy wins, he won in 1996 for outstanding guest actor in a comedy, “Coach,” and in 2008 for guest actor in a comedy for “30 Rock.”

“I’m heartbroken. He was one in a million, not only as a brilliant comedian but as a loving human being,” said Burnett in a statement obtained by Variety. “I cherish the times we had together both on the screen and off. He’ll be in my heart forever.”

On “The Carol Burnett Show,” Conway was so side-splittingly hilarious that he often caused co-star Harvey Korman to begin laughing in the middle of a skit. He was known for ad-libbing bits that would challenge Korman and other co-stars including Vicki Lawrence and Lyle Waggoner.

“Hysterical, crazy, bold, fearless, humble, kind, adorable… all synonyms for Tim Conway,” said Lawrence in a statement. “I am so lucky to ever have shared a stage with him. Harvey and Tim are together again…the angels are laughing out loud tonight.”
Conway appeared as many characters on the show, but the two most famous were the Old Man and Mr. Tudball. The Old Man shuffled along at an agonizingly slow pace vastly insufficient to the occupations in which the show’s writers would place him. His inability to get things done usually resulted in slapstick, and Conway would ad lib a good deal.

Mr. Tudball was a businessman who aimed to run a “ship-shape” office, but such intentions would always go unfulfilled because of the bored indifference of his secretary, Mrs. Wiggins (Burnett). The character was widely thought to be Swedish, but Conway actually imitated the accent of his Romanian mother.

“Carol Burnett” ran for 11 seasons on CBS from 1967-78. Conway appeared on a single episode in 1967 and then became a regular member of the comedienne’s troupe from 1975 until the show’s end.

In later years, Conway had success with his “Dorf” series of comic how-to videos in which he played a bumbling, diminutive Scandinavian character by standing on his knees. He also lent his versatile voice to a slew of animated productions ranging from “SpongeBob SquarePants,” to “Scooby Doo,” to the Christian video series “Hermie and Friends.”

In 2012 Burnett, Conway and Lawrence asked in an interview for Sirius XM Satellite Radio if there were occasions where they worried about having enough material for the show, Burnett replied: “No, because we could always count on Tim to go over. So there was always enough show. In fact, sometimes, because he would get on a roll and do stuff we had never seen before, so maybe a four-minute sketch would turn into a 10-minute sketch — thanks to Conway — and we could then bank another sketch that we were going to do that week for another week.”

Conway’s career had first been jump-started by the World War II-set sitcom “McHale’s Navy,” starring Ernest Borgnine. He played the bumbling, naive Ensign Charles Parker, executive officer of the PT-73, on 138 episodes of the show (1962-66), as well as the two feature films based on it, receiving his first Emmy nomination for his performance in 1963.

His run of Disney-produced family comedies began with 1973’s “The World’s Greatest Athlete,” in which he played the assistant to a desperate college coach (John Amos) who finds a new player in Africa — a Tarzan sort played by Jan Michael Vincent. Next was 1975’s “The Apple Dumpling Gang,” in which he starred with Don Knotts, among others (later Conway appeared in the 1979 sequel); “Gus,” also with Knotts, in which a mule moves from team mascot to team member; “The Shaggy D.A.,” with Dean Jones (Variety said: “Conway is particularly droll as a cloddish ice-cream salesman”); and “The Billion Dollar Hobo.”

Outside of the arrangement with Disney, Conway scripted the kids comedies “They Went That-A-Way & That-A-Way” (1978), in which he and Chuck McCann played inept cops told by the governor to go undercover as inmates in prison to discover where an old-timer has hidden his loot, and co-penned “The Prize Fighter,” in which he and Knott starred. The latter film shared a great of plot with the vastly superior Danny Kaye boxing film “The Kid From Brooklyn,” itself a remake of the also vastly superior Harold Lloyd vehicle “The Milky Way.” Conway’s partnership with Knotts ended with the 1981 comedy “The Private Eyes,” which Conway co-scripted. The pair played doltish detectives working for Scotland Yard in the zany comedy.

“The Tim Conway Show,” a one-hour variety show, ran for 13 episodes in 1980-81 (another show of the same title had aired briefly in 1970); Conway got another shot with his own show, CBS detective spoof “Ace Crawford, Private Eye,” in 1983, but its run was also very brief. The series, however, was produced by Conway’s own production company, Conway Enterprises, which went on to produce his Dorf videos.

“The Longshot” (1986), directed by Paul Bartel, was interesting for being a comedy scripted by Conway for adults; the film, which starred Conway and Harvey Korman, among others, followed a quartet of losers who borrow money from mobsters to bet on a “sure thing”; when they lose, the gangsters come after them. The movie did not attract much attention, however.

He began his series of “Dorf” how-to videos with “Dorf on Golf” in 1987. Conway produced nine Dorf videos overall, on sports including baseball, auto racing, and fishing.

In 1990 Conway appeared as a guest in an episode of Bob Newhart’s CBS sitcom “Newhart.” He recurred on “Married… With Children” as the father of Katey Sagal’s Peggy Bundy. He also guested on “Coach” in 1996 and ’97 — winning an Emmy for playing the inept gardener of Craig T. Nelson’s coach — as well as on “The Larry Sanders Show,” “Suddenly Susan” and “The Drew Carey Show,” all in 1997, and on “Mad About You” in 1999. He recurred on CBS sitcom “Yes, Dear” from 2001-05.

In response to the 2008 episode of “30 Rock” called “Subway Hero,” David Hinckley wrote in the New York Daily News that “the real reason [‘Subway Hero’] is must-see TV is a guest spot by Tim Conway as an old-time television star whose deadpan recollections of the ‘good old days’ keep getting weirder and funnier. He darn near steals the show.” Conway subsequently won an Emmy for the appearance.

He guested on “CSI” in 2010, “Hot in Cleveland” in 2010 and 2013, “Two and Half Men” and “Glee” in 2014.

Conway also made appearances in films such as Garry Marshall’s 1996 comedy “Dear God,” “Speed 2: Cruise Control” and “Air Bud: Golden Receiver” (1998).

Asked in a 2011 interview about comedy today, Conway replied: “I hang onto the oldies. Jonathan Winters calls me about three times a week, and I never answer the phone. I have all of his messages recorded. He always calls with a different character and he wants me to do something or appear somewhere or go to an Army-Navy store for something. I have hundreds of these on the answering machine, but I never talk to him. Once in a great while I will pick up and talk to him.

“I kind of fall back on that. But Bob Newhart and I, and Mike Connors, Steve and Eydie, get together every Tuesday night and have dinner, just to sit and talk. Most of the conversations have already been told 20 or 30 times. But we just keep in touch like that.

Of today’s comedy he went on to say, “I don’t really know about who is really doing it these days.”

Thomas Daniel Conway was born in Willoughby, Ohio in 1933. Conway attended Bowling Green State University, where he majored in speech and radio, and served in the Army. He started his career in show business working for a radio station, eventually writing for the promotional department. There was already an actor named Tom Conway, so he became Tim.

After his Army service ended, Conway returned to Cleveland to work with Ernie Anderson on KYW-TV in 1958-59 and on WJW-TV from 1960-62 on a weekday morning film showcase (under the Ernie’s Place banner); Conway wrote material for the comedic skits shown in the film intermissions. He also recorded a comedy album with Anderson.

Comedienne Rose Marie discovered Conway and arranged for him to audition for “The Steve Allen Plymouth Show”; Allen was so impressed with Conway that the comedian became a regular on the show in 1960. Conway was also a regular on Allen’s next series, “The New Steve Allen Show,” in 1961.

The following year he was signed to play Ensign Charles Parker on “McHale’s Navy.”

After that he starred in ABC’s brief comic Western series “Rango” as the title character, a bumbling Texas Ranger, but the show ran for only 17 episodes in 1967. He got his own series in 1970, but CBS’ “The Tim Conway Show,” in which he played an inept pilot at a fly-by-night airline, lasted only a single season.

It was his hilarious work on “The Carol Burnett Show” — memorable decades later to those who watched the show, and immortalized on YouTube — that was his real gift to audiences.

Many comedians and actors have taken to social media to pay tribute to Conway.

“Watching Tim Conway destroy his cast mates is pure joy. Wait until Vicki Lawrence’s a-bomb ad-lib at the end,” wrote Patton Oswalt, accompanied with a video of some “Carol Burnett Show” outtakes.

“Tim Conway made me laugh. A great gift and talent. Carol, my friend, my hand in yours as you miss him,” tweeted Jamie Lee Curtis.

Conway was married to Mary Anne Dalton from 1961 until their divorce in 1978.

He is survived by second wife Charlene Conway, whom he married in 1984, and seven children by Dalton, including KFI Los Angeles radio host Tim Conway Jr.

Originally published: Tuesday, May 14, 2019 at 6:16pm BST.

H/T: Nickandmore!; Additional sources: USA Today, Wikipedia, Anime Superhero Forum /@RainbowCupcake.

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