Funnyman and Carol Burnett Show Star Tim Conway Dead at 85

Conway made a side-splitting appearance on LIFE Today in 2007 talking about his faith and his fabulous career.

By Nancy Flory Published on May 14, 2019

Comedy legend Tim Conway passed away Tuesday morning from a lengthy illness. He was 85.

Conway is most famous for his time on The Carol Burnett Show. His characters like the Oldest Man and Mr. Tudball left audiences — and his own co-stars in stitches. (As poor Harvey Korman does in this sketch.)




Conway also starred in shows like McHale’s Navy and did voiceovers for Barnacle Boy on Spongebob Squarepants. Hallmark movie fans might remember him as Granddad in the 2015 film Surprised By Love. He would make his last appearance in 2016’s Chip and Bernie Save Christmas With Dorf

Over his long career, he won six Emmys and one Golden Globe. Conway was also an author, producer and director. 

And he was a man of faith. In August, 2007, Conway appeared on LIFE TodayStream founder James Robison remembers his visit well. “After taping with us, Tim Conway sent Betty and me a note saying, ‘To my new very best friends.’ When I talked to him on the phone, he said the same thing. That was really a kind thing to say. He was so gifted, and we enjoyed having him on our show.”

The Beginning

Born December 15, 1933, Conway grew up in a small town in Ohio. He did a stint in the Army in the 1950s, where his comedic genius was already present. In a 2013 interview with the L.A. Times, Conway told the story of losing his rifle just before the 4 a.m. drill. 

“I looked in the garbage and there was this long neon tube,” he said. “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 the military, Conway worked at WJW, Cleveland’s local television station. “I had no professional training. I had a sense of humor and had been in front of a microphone.”

Carol Burnett remembers him this way: “He was one in a million, not only as a brilliant comedian but as a loving human being. I cherish the times we had together both on the screen and off. He’ll be in my heart forever.”

As co-star Vicki Lawrence said, “The angels are laughing out loud tonight.” 

Tim Conway is survived by his wife of 35 years, his stepdaughter, his six biological children and two granddaughters. 

Here’s his LIFE Today appearance. ENJOY!


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