Family of Tim Conway requests donations to Lou Ruvo Brain Center

Guarantees of satisfaction don’t get more ironclad than this:

“If you don’t laugh,” Tim Conway told this writer in 2000 about an upcoming show at the former Las Vegas Hilton with buddy Harvey Korman, “we’ll come over to your house and clean your refrigerator.”

Needless to say, I cleaned my own fridge.

Sadly, the brilliant funnyman died today at age 85, but he left Vegas another gift. As reported by CNN, Conway’s family has requested that in lieu of gifts, donations be made to our own Cleveland Clinic — Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health at 888 W. Bonneville Ave. The center, which is dedicated to the treatment of brain diseases and state-of-the-art patient care, confirmed the report.

Conway’s representative, Howard Bragman, made the announcement of the ex-Carol Burnett Show sidekick’s passing, noting that it came after a long-term illness, though he said Conway had not suffered from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. He said Conway died from complications of Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus, an abnormal fluid buildup in the ventricles of the brain.

In a touring stage show called Together Again, Conway and Korman, his Burnett Show co-star, would re-create the antics from the iconic CBS variety show at Vegas venues including the Hilton and the Stardust. “The kind of comedy we did was, in a sense, very kind,” Conway said in that 2000 interview in the Las Vegas Sun about the Burnett Show which, despite his fame from the 1960s sitcom McHale’s Navy, is the TV stint that turned him into a beloved TV icon.

“It was physical humor but I’m not sure a network would have faith in that kind of comedy now,” he said. “Now you have to come out nude in front of a brick wall and that’s just the introduction.” Aided by comedian/impressionist Louise DuArt, Conway and Korman would revive five sketches from the classic Burnett oeuvre — pratfalls included — as well as perform individual stand-up routines.

“It’s like a rock concert, this show,” Conway had said. “People just go nuts that this kind of humor is still around. I walk out as The Old Man (character) and you’d think Springsteen is onstage. … Folks love that down-home humor. Parents feel they can bring their kids to a show like this without worrying about being offended.”

The secret sauce of the Conway-Korman partnership? Simple: More than the punch lines and the pratfalls, we enjoyed those guys because they enjoyed each other. Immensely.

Popping in a DVD of Carol Burnett Show highlights reconfirms that, particularly when fast-forwarding to the famous “dentist sketch” in which Conway, as the neophyte dentist, accidentally shoots himself — instead of Korman, his patient — full of Novocain. As Conway’s limbs go numb — hand drooping against Korman’s nose, leg dragging on the floor, dental instruments dangling from his lifeless fingers and clattering against Korman’s teeth —Korman dissolves in helpless hysteria. And so do we.

As Conway told me: “They show that at every dental convention.”

And they always will.

For more information on the Cleveland Clinic — Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, call 702-483-6000 or visit

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