Skip to main content

Library of Congress Acquires Early Ernie Kovacs Collection

The Library of Congress has acquired a collection of early TV recordings of comedian Ernie Kovacs and his wife, Edie Adams.

The collection comes from Adams' son, Josh Mills, president of Ediad Productions.

Adams was part of a public hearing in 1996 at the Library about the loss of early TV programs—Kovacs died in 1962. Adams said that "truckloads" of videotapes of that era were destroyed as refuse. The Library issued a report the following year that concluded that the historical record of the first decades of American television and video were either nonexistent or fragmentary.

"[Kovacs] influence can be seen in the work of Monty Python, David Letterman, Pee-wee Herman and on such shows as Saturday Night Live and Comedy Bang! Bang!" said the Library in announcing the acquisition. Chevy Chase could also be notably added to the inheritors of Kovacs’ brand of humor.

Kovacs' offbeat sense of humor translated to such iconic characters of the day as "artiste" Percy Dovetonsils and the Nairobi Trio.

The sultry Adams may be best known to older Boomers' from her Muriel cigar commercials.

The collection, of over 1,200 items, comprises kinescopes, videotapes, 16 mm and Super 8 home movies and includes various specials and a quiz show for ABC, Kovacs NBC morning show, episodes of an Adams series, Here's Edie, on ABC.

“The Ernie Kovacs and Edie Adams Collection is an especially welcome acquisition for us,” said Mike Mashon, head of the Library’s Moving Image section, of the new addition to the TV family. “We’re very proud of our humor collections and we’re always looking to expand our holdings in early television. With Ernie Kovacs and Edie Adams, we accomplish both.”

The Kovacs/Adams collection joins those of TV funnyfolk Bob Hope, Groucho Marx, Danny Kaye, Johnny Carson, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, among others.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.