Tim Conway and Harvey Korman exhausted themselves trying to make Cary Grant laugh

It took a lot of energy to keep Cary Grant laughing.

People always say "Never meet your heroes," and maybe they're onto something. When you idolize someone, you hold such high expectations for them that if you were to meet them in person, there's no hope for them to live up to your idealized version of them. However, a lesser considered factor is that potentially you might not measure up enough to impress your hero.

Cary Grant was known as an idol to his many fans, who weren't limited to run-of-the-mill normal people. According to Carol Burnett's memoir, This Time Together: Laughter and Reflection, she herself was starstruck when she met Grant for the first time. However, the two quickly became friends, and as Grant was a lover of comedy, also went out of his way to invite Harvey Korman and Tim Conway, both actors on The Carol Burnett Show, to spend some quality time with him.

While Conway and Korman were excited and eager to impress Grant with their comedic chops. Burnett wrote, "The afternoon went swimmingly. Cary was charming (surprise) and quite possibly the best audience Conway and Korman had ever had. He was smitten with the two of them, who happened to be on a roll that day. And why not? They had Cary Grant in stitches." 

Burnett wrote that Grant continued to invite Conway and Korman out. The two comedians always accepted, constantly bringing their funniest jokes to impress Grant. But as time went on, the two grew weary. Burnett wrote, "Driving home, Harvey and Tim were a little concerned at this point. 'How can we keep this up? I think we've used up all of our schtick!'"

It's possible that all this stress was simply built up in Conway and Korman's heads. Burnett wrote, "As far as Cary was concerned, all Tim had to say was 'Pass the salt,' and he would be put away. But as far as the boys went, this third Saturday was work. They just didn't want to let Cary down. Of course, they didn't. The following week, they tried to think up other bits that would floor him, unable to bear the possibility that they might disappoint him." 

She continued, "While Cary was still happy as a clam, after the next couple of Saturdays, Harvey and Tim were bordering on nervous exhaustion."

Finally, the stress reached a crescendo when the phone rang at Conway's home. He jokingly quipped, "If that's Cary Grant, I'm not home."

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6 Comments

CouchPotato19 3 months ago
Probably they couldn't keep up with the drinking.
Woodie 3 months ago
Comedian Buddy Hackett told a similar story about Cary Grant on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson one night. His was told as a fictional account, but is very similar to the Korman/Conway story.
Mark112763 3 months ago
Too bad Conway and Knotts didn't make more movies together. They were a great team!...
Causeway42 4 months ago
Oh boy. Conway and Korman were funny in their own right. But I always found their 'cracking up' to be as genuine as a 3 dollar bill. More like extreme mugging to milk some extra laughs; just another form of canned laughter.
Biggierat Causeway42 3 months ago
You should read or listen to some of the behind-the-scenes stories from Carol and Vicki. There was nothing phony about Harvey cracking up at Tim.
Runeshaper 4 months ago
From what I read here, it sounds like Conway and Korman were quite successful! Exhausted, but successful nonetheless.
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