Tim Conway, aka. Thomas Daniel Conway was born on December 15, 1933 in Willoughby, Ohio. In later years, to avoid confusion with an existing actor named “Tom Conway,” he changed his first name to Tim. Although born in Willoughby, he grew up in Chagrin Falls. He attended Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio, where he majored in speech and radio. After graduation, he joined the Army, and later took a job answering mail for a Cleveland radio station, where he went on to become a writer for the promotional department.
Tim Conway’s Early Television Career
In 1956, he had his first big break, when comedienne Rose Marie (“The Dick Van Dyke Show” ) discovered him and arranged for him to audition for “The Steve Allen Show”. Steve Allen was so impressed that Conway wound up with a regular spot on the show. With his career taking off, he married Mary Ann Dalton in 1961, the mother of six of his children.
His fame grew in 1962 with his casting in “McHale’s Navy,” playing the role of Ensign Parker, a by-the-book goofball. In 1963, he was nominated for his first Emmy – Outstanding Performance in a Supporting Role by an Actor. After the end of “McHale’s Navy” in 1966, and after 2 movies spun off from that series, he was in the first of a series of failed TV series, “Rango.” Of the various TV series that starred Tim Conway, none have lasted more than 13 weeks — in fact, Tim Conway’s license plate reads “13 WKS.” Some of this other failed series included “The Tim Conway Show (1970),” “The Tim Conway Comedy Hour (1970),” “The Tim Conway Show (1980),” “Ace Crawford, Private Eye (1983).”
However, in 1975, he appeared in the TV series that brought him lasting fame, “The Carol Burnett Show.” A variety show, it enabled Tim Conway to portray numerous characters, notably the “slow old man” who always brought his co-star Harvey Korman to the boiling point, and “Mr. Tudball” who in turn was brought to exasperation by Carol Burnett’s character of “Mrs. h-Wiggins.” Although Tim was technically a guest star for the first several seasons, he his indelibly linked to the success of the show. One of his trademarks was to attempt to cause the other actors, notably Harvey Korman, to fall out of character by laughing out loud. Tim Conway’s performances on the show earned him three Emmy Awards in 1973, 1977 and 1978, as well as another Emmy shared with the other writers in 1978.
Tim Conway’s Movie Career
Afterwards, he appeared in a series of films, portraying the dim-witted slapstick characters that he did so well. Of these films for Disney, he was often paired with fellow funnyman, Don Knotts, most notably in The Apple Dumpling Gang (1975) series. Other films he made include “The World’s Greatest Athlete” (with a hilarious scene where he’s shrunk to ant-size), “Gus (1976),” “The Shaggy D.A. (1976),” “The Billion Dollar Hobo (1977),” and many others.
Sadly, in 1978, he and Mary Ann divorced. His career continued, with “They Went That-A-Way & That-A-Way (1978)” which Tim Conway also wrote, “The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again (1978),” “The Prize Fighter (1979)” also written by Tim Conway, The Private Eyes (1980), “Cannonball Run II (1984),” The Longshot (1986)” also written by Tim Conway and reuniting him with Harvey Korman – a vastly underrated film.
Tim Conway and Dorf on Video
In his personal life, Tim Conway met and married Charlene Fusco, with whom he adopted another child. He also introduced a new series of video comedies, written by and starring himself portraying a character that he introduced on “The Carol Burnett Show” named Dorf. Dorf is a diminutive sports enthusiast of Nordic decent, with a series of videos purporting to be how-to videos including “Dorf on Golf (1987),” “Dorf’s Golf Bible (1987),” “Dorf and the First Games of Mount Olympus (1988),” “Dorf Goes Auto Racing (1990),” “Dorf Goes Fishing (1993),” “Dorf on the Diamond (1996),” “Dorf Da Bingo King.”
During this time, Tim Conway continued to do guest appearances on numerous television shows, including “Newhart,” “Married With Children,” “Coach,” “Diagnosis: Murder,” “Cosby,” “The Simpsons,” “The Roseanne Show,” “Touched by an Angel,” “The Drew Cary Show” and “7th Heaven” among others. In fact, he earned another Emmy award for his appearance as Kenny Montague on “Coach” in 1996.
Tim Conway’s Later Activities
In recent years, Tim Conway continues to appear in movies and has cameo appearances in TV series. He was the bright spot int the 1996 comedy Dear God. Currently, he voiced the character “Barnacle Boy” in the popular Nickelodeon cartoon series SpongeBob SquarePants, as well as appearing as the title character in Max Lucado’s “Hermie the Caterpillar” series of children’s videos, and also had a guest-starring role on the CBS sitcom “Yes Dear“, playing the father of Anthony Clark’s character, Greg.
Death of Tim Conway
Tim Conway passed away on May 14, 2019, at the age of 85.
Trivia about Tim Conway
- Tim Conway’s first name was changed to Tim to avoid confusion with Tom Conway
- Comedienne Rose Marie discovered Tim Conway and arranged for him to audition for “The Steve Allen Show” (1956). He so impressed Allen that Conway wound up with a regular spot on the show.
- Tim Conway as been called “the best second-banana in the business”.
- Tim Conway became notorious on “The Carol Burnett Show” (1967) for making the cast members – especially co-star Harvey Korman – break up with laughter during taping, while he remained in character. Unlike most shows, these bits were usually left in the routines when the episodes were aired.
- Tim Conway’s car license plate reads “13 WKS“, a reference to the fact that all of his solo television projects have been cancelled after 13 weeks.
- Father of Tim Conway Jr. and Kelly Conway.
- Earned a degree in television and radio from Bowling Green State University.
- He is a member of Phi Delta Theta Fraternity
- Tim Conway’s biography in: “Who’s Who in Comedy” by Ronald L. Smith. Pg. 115-116.
- Tim Conway was named a Disney Legend in 2004.
- Tim Conway is of Irish descent on his father’s side.