Jim "Ernest" Varney

Died February 10, 2000

'Ernest' Actor Jim Varney Dies At 50

By JOE EDWARDS Associated Press Writer

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Jim Varney, the rubbernecked comic who portrayed his rube character ``Ernest'' from hundreds of television commercials to a series of movies, died Thursday. He was 50.

Varney died of lung cancer at his home in White House, Tenn., about 20 miles north of Nashville, said his attorney Hoot Gibson.

Varney became a cult figure in the 1980s in a series of regional commercials, portraying Ernest P. Worrell, a know-it-all good ol' boy whose best-known phrase was ``Know-what-I-mean?'' and who addressed a character known as ``Vern.''

In the commercials, he got his fingers slammed in a house window, fell off a ladder and got electrically shocked fooling with a broken TV set. He plugged a variety of sponsors, including dairy products, car dealerships, pizza and radio stations.

``Ernest is a neighbor or relative that we've all had at one time,'' he once said. ``He's abrasive, but he doesn't mean to be. He gets excited and ends up standing on your toes. I try to make him clownish and I don't want him too low key; and he's physically funny.''

Picked by Cannibal Feast.