Tim Conway, known for his Emmy-winning role opposite Carol Burnett on her variety show and later as the voice of Barnacle Boy on Spongebob Squarepants has died. He was 85.
Conway died Tuesday morning in a Los Angeles care facility, according to Howard Bragman of LaBrea Media. Conway’s wife, Charlene Fusco, and a daughter, Jackie, were at his side. The cause was a disorder in which there is an excess of fluid on the brain, Bragman said.
Tributes came from across the comedy world, including from Conan O’Brien, Judd Apatow and Kids in The Hall alum Kevin MacDonald, with Larry Wilmore calling Conway “always always always funny” and Kathy Griffin saying he was “a wildly talented, comedy giant.” Al Roker tweeted a link to Conway playing an inexperienced, incompetent dentist.
When I was a kid watching “The Carol Burnett Show,” no one made me laugh harder than Tim Conway. What a sweet and effortlessly funny man.
— Conan O’Brien (@ConanOBrien) May 14, 2019
The amount of joy Tim Conway brought my family as a child was immeasurable. The man was pure comedy. Riotously funny. I finally got to see him work when he guest starred on The Larry Sanders show and he was all I dreamed he would be. As kind as he was funny. He will be missed. https://t.co/69NkVC6TwZ
— Judd Apatow (@JuddApatow) May 14, 2019
When I was a kid, I loved the anti comedy of Monty Python, SNL, Albert Brooks and Andy Kauffman. And I loved comedy comedy. And Tim Conway was one of the funniest people there were. One of the people that made me want to be a comedian. Never met him. Will always miss him.
— Kevin MCDonald (@kevinthekith) May 14, 2019
— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) May 14, 2019
So sad to hear about Tim Conway’s death. One of my heroes, truly. Did a live sketch w him for NY comedy festival. When we met to “rehearse”, he made me laugh for a solid hour. He didn’t have to. For him to treat me as even close to an equal will always be a cherished honor.
— Andy Richter (@AndyRichter) May 14, 2019
You loved everyone you met and we loved you back. You were funny off-camera without always being “on.” You were a gentleman without a single mark against your good name. You were a comedy giant in the nice, compact-sized version. I will miss you… Rest in peace, Tim Conway. pic.twitter.com/xpHIGcycdC
— RUTH BUZZI (@Ruth_A_Buzzi) May 14, 2019
Tim Conway was a brilliant and entirely unique comedy mind. He saw things from strange angles no one else could. Seems like he genuinely had fun with that gift. And thankfully, he shared it with as many people as possible. #RIPTimConway
— Brent Butt (@BrentButt) May 14, 2019
A native of Ohio, Conway credited his Midwestern roots for putting him on the right path to laughs, with his deadpan expression and innocent, simple-minded demeanour.
“I think the Midwest is the heart of comedy in this country, and a little bit of the South, too,” he told the Wisconsin State Journal in 2005. “For some reason, we’re just more laid-back, more understanding. … And Midwesterners have a kinder sense of humour.”
Those qualities probably contributed to his wide popularity on The Carol Burnett Show, which he joined in 1975 after years as a frequent guest. The show aired on CBS from 1967 to 1978 and had a short summer stint on ABC in 1979.
“We really didn’t attack people or politics or religion or whatever. We just made fun of, basically, ourselves,” he said.
Besides the four Emmys he won with Burnett (three as a performer, one as a writer), he won Emmys for guest appearances in 1996 for Coach and in 2008 for the 30 Rock episode entitled “Subway Hero.“
Conway and his first wife, Mary Anne Dalton, married in 1961 and had six children. He later married Charlene Fusco.
In addition to his wife and daughter Jackie, Conway is survived by children Tim Jr., Patrick, Jamie, Kelly, Corey and Seann, as well as two grandchildren, Courtney and Sophia.
With files from The Associated Press