Jim Varney - Film & Theater Personalities, Timeline and Childhood

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Jim Varney's Personal Details

James Albert Varney Jr

InformationDetail
BirthdayJune 15, 1949
Died onFebruary 10, 2000
NationalityAmerican
FamousFilm & Theater Personalities, Actors
City/StateKentucky
SpousesJacqueline Drew (m. 1977–1983), Jane Varney (m. 1988–1991)
Known asJames Albert Varney, Jr.
Birth PlaceLexington, Kentucky
Height185cm
GenderMale
FatherJames Albert Varney Sr.
MotherNancy Louise Varney (née Howard)
Sun SignGemini
Born inLexington, Kentucky
Famous asActor
Died at Age50

// Famous Film & Theater Personalities

Jim Varney's photo

Who is Jim Varney?

James Albert Varney Jr. was a ‘Daytime Emmy Award’-winning American stage, TV, and film actor. He was best known for his signature role of ‘Ernest P. Worrell,’ which he portrayed in various commercials, films, and TV shows. As a child, he displayed excellent memorizing skills and also imitated cartoon characters from TV. Noticing his talent, Jim’s mother made him participate in children's theater, and with time, he developed an interest in the art and won state titles in various drama competitions. He started acting professionally at age 17 and made a number of stage appearances. He rose to prominence by playing ‘Ernest P. Worrell’ and portraying the character in several TV commercials, starting from a 1980 advertisement that featured the ‘Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders’ at ‘Beech Bend Park.’ He also played ‘Ernest’ in the TV series ‘Hey Vern, It's Ernest!’ and in films such as ‘Ernest Goes to Camp,’ ‘Ernest Rides Again,’ and ‘Ernest in the Army.’ He also portrayed every member of Ernest’s family. Other notable works of Varney include lending his voice to the animated character ‘Slinky Dog’ in the films ‘Toy Story’ and ‘Toy Story 2’ and playing ‘Jed Clampett’ in the film ‘The Beverly Hillbillies.’

// Famous Actors

Childhood & Early Life

Jim was born on June 15, 1949, in Lexington, Kentucky, US, to James Albert Varney Sr. and Nancy Louise Varney (née Howard). He was their fourth child and their only son.

As a child, he had the ability to memorize lengthy material. After watching her son imitate cartoon characters, Nancy led him to join children’s theater at the tender age of 8.

Gradually, he developed an interest in theater, and while studying at ‘Lafayette High School,’ he won state titles in various drama competitions.

By the time he turned 17, he began acting professionally, performing in coffee houses and nightclubs. He performed in a folk show that was presented at ‘Opryland USA,’ an amusement park in suburban Nashville, Tennessee.

At age 24, he began acting at the ‘Pioneer Playhouse’ in Danville, Kentucky. His early stage appearances included his performances in the plays ‘Boeing 707,’ ‘Fire on the Mountain,’ and ‘Blithe Spirit.’

Career

One of his initial TV pursuits was an appearance in an episode of the daytime variety talk show ‘Dinah!’ in 1976. He played the recurring character of ‘Virgil Simms’ in the comedy show ‘Fernwood 2 Night’ in 1977 and in its follow-up series, ‘America 2-Night,’ in 1978. He also featured as ‘Seaman “Doom & Gloom” Broom’ in the series ‘Operation Petticoat’ in 1978.

His first commercial as ‘Ernest P. Worrell’ was an advertisement that featured the ‘Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders’ at ‘Beech Bend Park’ in 1980. The character was created by ‘Carden & Cherry,’ an advertising agency based in Nashville, and was used in several local TV commercials, apart from being used in markets across the US.

Many dairies, including the Nashville-based ‘Purity Dairies,’ the Maine-based ‘Oakhurst Dairy,’ the Raleigh- based ‘Pine State Dairy,’ and the Tuttle- based dairy bar and hamburger chain ‘Braum's’ used the character in their commercials. His famous catchphrase “Knowhutimean, Vern?" featured in several such advertisements.

Over the years, he appeared as ‘Ernest’ in several other commercials. These included the advertisements for ‘Convenient Food Mart’ and the ‘Laclede Gas Company’ in the 1980s. He also featured in advertisements for the ‘Michigan Consolidated Gas Company’ and ‘Braum's Ice Cream and Dairy Stores’ in the 1980s. The 1990s saw him featuring in commercials for ‘Blake's Lotaburger’ among others. Various national brands, such as ‘The Coca-Cola Company,’ ‘Taco John's,’ and ‘Chex,’ featured ‘Ernest’ in their advertisements.

Most of the ‘Ernest’ commercials were released by ‘Hollywood Pictures’ and ‘Touchstone Pictures Home Video’ on VHS tapes. On October 31, 2006, ‘Mill Creek Entertainment’ released these commercials on DVD. They were re-released on June 5, 2012, as part of the DVD set ‘Ernest's Wacky Adventures: Volume 1’ by ‘Image Entertainment.’ ‘Ernest’ was also featured at ‘Epcot,’ a theme park at the ‘Walt Disney World Resort.’

Varney also appeared as the humorless drill instructor ‘Sgt. Glory,’ another creation of ‘Carden & Cherry,' in many commercials. He appeared as ‘Auntie Nelda’ in many films.

Meanwhile, the character of ‘Ernest’ became popular enough for it to be featured in a TV series and several films. The first film featuring ‘Ernest’ was the 1986 science-fiction comedy ‘Dr. Otto and the Riddle of the Gloom Beam.’

The second film featuring ‘Ernest,’ titled ‘Ernest Goes to Camp,’ was released on May 22, 1987. It became a sensational hit, grossing US$ 23.5 million at the box office, against a budget of US$ 3 million.

The children’s TV series ‘Hey Vern, It's Ernest!’ was originally aired on ‘CBS’ for 13 episodes, from September 17, 1988, to December 24, 1988. The show was rerun in the 1990s on ‘The Family Channel.’ Other artists who featured in the series were Gailard Sartain, Bill Byrge, and Debi Derryberry. The series earned Varney a ‘Daytime Emmy Award’ in the category of ‘Outstanding Performer in a Children's Series’ in 1989.

An array of ‘Ernest’ films followed. These included the hits ‘Ernest Saves Christmas’ (1988), ‘Ernest Goes to Jail’ (1990), and ‘Ernest Scared Stupid’ (1991).

The next film in the ‘Ernest’ series, ‘Ernest Rides Again,’ which released on November 12, 1993, was a commercial failure. It was the last film of the series to be released theatrically. The ‘Ernest’ films released after this were all ‘direct-to-video’ releases. These included ‘Ernest Goes to School’ (1994), ‘Slam Dunk Ernest’ (1995), ‘Ernest Goes to Africa’ (1997), and ‘Ernest in the Army’ (1998).

One of his notable works apart from the ‘Ernest’ films was his voice-over as ‘Slinky Dog,’ a toy dachshund, in the ‘Disney/Pixar' computer-animated film ‘Toy Story.’ The film released in November 1995 and became a blockbuster hit. He went on to reprise the role in its first sequel, titled ‘Toy Story 2,’ which released in November 1999 and also became a super hit.

A few notable TV performances of Varney were for the TV series ‘Pink Lady’ (1980) and ‘The Rousters’ (1983). Some of Varney’s noteworthy films were ‘The Beverly Hillbillies’ (1993), ‘Wilder Napalm’ (1993), ‘100 Proof’ (1997), and ‘3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain’ (1998).

His final role was his voice-over as ‘Jebidiah “Cookie” Farnsworth’ in the hit animated science-fantasy film ‘Atlantis: The Lost Empire.’ The film, which was released posthumously in June 2001, was dedicated to his memory.

Personal Life

Jim married Jacqueline Drew on June 15, 1977, but the couple divorced in 1983. He then married Jane Varney in 1988, and they remained married till their divorce in 1991. They remained friends after their divorce. He had no children.

He started having a bad cough during the filming of ‘Treehouse Hostage’ in August 1998 and was eventually diagnosed with lung cancer. A chain-smoker, he quit smoking after his diagnosis and underwent chemotherapy. However, he continued with his acting endeavors. Unfortunately, he succumbed to the disease on February 10, 2000, at his residence in White House, Tennessee, and was buried in ‘Lexington Cemetery’ in Lexington, Kentucky.

A detailed biography of the actor, titled ‘The Importance of Being Ernest: The Life of Actor Jim Varney (Stuff that Vern doesn't even know)’ was published by his nephew, Justin Lloyd, on December 6, 2013.

// Famous People From Kentucky

Jim Varney biography timelines

  • // 15th Jun 1949
    Jim was born on June 15, 1949, in Lexington, Kentucky, US, to James Albert Varney Sr. and Nancy Louise Varney (née Howard). He was their fourth child and their only son.
  • // 1977
    One of his initial TV pursuits was an appearance in an episode of the daytime variety talk show ‘Dinah!’ in 1976. He played the recurring character of ‘Virgil Simms’ in the comedy show ‘Fernwood 2 Night’ in 1977 and in its follow-up series, ‘America 2-Night,’ in 1978. He also featured as ‘Seaman “Doom & Gloom” Broom’ in the series ‘Operation Petticoat’ in 1978.
  • // 1977
    Jim married Jacqueline Drew on June 15, 1977, but the couple divorced in 1983. He then married Jane Varney in 1988, and they remained married till their divorce in 1991. They remained friends after their divorce. He had no children.
  • // 1980
    His first commercial as ‘Ernest P. Worrell’ was an advertisement that featured the ‘Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders’ at ‘Beech Bend Park’ in 1980. The character was created by ‘Carden & Cherry,’ an advertising agency based in Nashville, and was used in several local TV commercials, apart from being used in markets across the US.
  • // 1986
    Meanwhile, the character of ‘Ernest’ became popular enough for it to be featured in a TV series and several films. The first film featuring ‘Ernest’ was the 1986 science-fiction comedy ‘Dr. Otto and the Riddle of the Gloom Beam.’
  • // 1987
    The second film featuring ‘Ernest,’ titled ‘Ernest Goes to Camp,’ was released on May 22, 1987. It became a sensational hit, grossing US$ 23.5 million at the box office, against a budget of US$ 3 million.
  • // 1988
    The children’s TV series ‘Hey Vern, It's Ernest!’ was originally aired on ‘CBS’ for 13 episodes, from September 17, 1988, to December 24, 1988. The show was rerun in the 1990s on ‘The Family Channel.’ Other artists who featured in the series were Gailard Sartain, Bill Byrge, and Debi Derryberry. The series earned Varney a ‘Daytime Emmy Award’ in the category of ‘Outstanding Performer in a Children's Series’ in 1989.
  • // 1993
    The next film in the ‘Ernest’ series, ‘Ernest Rides Again,’ which released on November 12, 1993, was a commercial failure. It was the last film of the series to be released theatrically. The ‘Ernest’ films released after this were all ‘direct-to-video’ releases. These included ‘Ernest Goes to School’ (1994), ‘Slam Dunk Ernest’ (1995), ‘Ernest Goes to Africa’ (1997), and ‘Ernest in the Army’ (1998).
  • // 1995
    One of his notable works apart from the ‘Ernest’ films was his voice-over as ‘Slinky Dog,’ a toy dachshund, in the ‘Disney/Pixar' computer-animated film ‘Toy Story.’ The film released in November 1995 and became a blockbuster hit. He went on to reprise the role in its first sequel, titled ‘Toy Story 2,’ which released in November 1999 and also became a super hit.
  • // 1998
    He started having a bad cough during the filming of ‘Treehouse Hostage’ in August 1998 and was eventually diagnosed with lung cancer. A chain-smoker, he quit smoking after his diagnosis and underwent chemotherapy. However, he continued with his acting endeavors. Unfortunately, he succumbed to the disease on February 10, 2000, at his residence in White House, Tennessee, and was buried in ‘Lexington Cemetery’ in Lexington, Kentucky.
  • // 2006
    Most of the ‘Ernest’ commercials were released by ‘Hollywood Pictures’ and ‘Touchstone Pictures Home Video’ on VHS tapes. On October 31, 2006, ‘Mill Creek Entertainment’ released these commercials on DVD. They were re-released on June 5, 2012, as part of the DVD set ‘Ernest's Wacky Adventures: Volume 1’ by ‘Image Entertainment.’ ‘Ernest’ was also featured at ‘Epcot,’ a theme park at the ‘Walt Disney World Resort.’
  • // 2013
    A detailed biography of the actor, titled ‘The Importance of Being Ernest: The Life of Actor Jim Varney (Stuff that Vern doesn't even know)’ was published by his nephew, Justin Lloyd, on December 6, 2013.

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Jim Varney's FAQ

  • What is Jim Varney birthday?

    Jim Varney was born at 1949-06-15

  • When was Jim Varney died?

    Jim Varney was died at 2000-02-10

  • Which age was Jim Varney died?

    Jim Varney was died at age 50

  • Where is Jim Varney's birth place?

    Jim Varney was born in Lexington, Kentucky

  • What is Jim Varney nationalities?

    Jim Varney's nationalities is American

  • Who is Jim Varney spouses?

    Jim Varney's spouses is Jacqueline Drew (m. 1977–1983), Jane Varney (m. 1988–1991)

  • How tall is Jim Varney?

    Jim Varney's height is 185

  • Who is Jim Varney's father?

    Jim Varney's father is James Albert Varney Sr.

  • Who is Jim Varney's mother?

    Jim Varney's mother is Nancy Louise Varney (née Howard)

  • What is Jim Varney's sun sign?

    Jim Varney is Gemini

  • How famous is Jim Varney?

    Jim Varney is famouse as Actor