January 13, 1962
COMEDIAN ERNIE KOVAKS DIES IN CAR CRASH
Los Angeles, California (JFK+50) Successful television comedian Ernie Kovaks died early this morning when his Chevy Corvair crashed into a power pole at the corner of Beverly Glen & Santa Monica Boulevards here in Los Angeles.
The accident took place during a rainstorm. There were no passengers in the vehicle although Kovak’s wife was driving home in her own car.
Kovaks, who always appeared on TV shows with his signature cigar, was found half-way outside the passenger side window with an unlit cigar nearby.
Ernie Kovaks, born in Trenton, New Jersey on January 13, 1919, was 42 years old. He is survived by his 2nd wife, Edie Adams. His 1st wife was Bette Wilcox.
Kovaks, a Hungarian-American, had his own TV show in Philadelphia, “Three to Get Ready”, from 1951-1952, which was the 1st regularly scheduled early morning show in a major television market.
He appeared on many television shows in a comedy role including ‘I Love Lucy’ along with his wife, Edie Adams. Kovaks also appeared in several movies.
TV critic William Henry III wrote:
“(Kovaks) was tv’s 1st significant video artist–its 1st surrealist….its most daring & imaginative writer…he was a genius…in the realm of art….someone who causes an audience to look at the world in a new way.”*
Used Car Dealer Routine
ABC Special (1960-61)
*Kovak’s funeral service was held at the Beverly Hills Community Church. The pallbearers included Jack Lemmon, Dean Martin & Frank Sinatra.
In attendance were Jack Benny, Milton Berle, Charlton Heston, Groucho Marx, Edward G. Robinson & Jimmy Stewart.
During the service, Kovak’s own eulogy was quoted:
“I was born in Trenton, N.J. in 1919 (&) I’ve been smoking cigars ever since.”
Burial was is Hollywood’s Forest Lawn Cemetery.
The Chevrolet Corvair
The Chevy Corvair, manufactured between 1960 & 1969, is the only American-made massed-produced automobile with a rear-mounted, air-cooled engine.
1962 Chevy Corvair Monza Coupe
The Corvair was designated as a “compact”, a term for small cars with a wheelbase of 110 inches or less as coined by George W. Romney.*
The Corvair sported an aluminum air-cooled 140 cubic inch flat 6 engine.
1,786,243 units were produced with the 1962 base model selling for between $1920-$2331.
Consumer rights advocate Ralph Nader criticized the Corvair in his 1965 book “Unsafe At Any Speed: The Designed-in Dangers of the American Automobile.”
Nader wrote that, because of its handling problems, the Chevy Corvair was the “leading candidate for the un-safest car title.”
General Motors had a hundred lawsuits pending involving the Corvair.
*George W. Romney (1907-1995) was the father of current Republican front-runner for the 2012 nomination for President, Mitt Romney.
George Romney was governor of Michigan from 1963 to 1969 & served in the administration of Richard Nixon.
Cover of 1969 Chevy Corvair Brochure