West Los Angeles, California (JFK+50) On January 13, 1962, television comedian Ernie Kovacs* died when his white Chevy Corvair station wagon crashed into a power pole at the corner of Beverly Glen and Santa Monica Boulevards here in Los Angeles.
The accident took place at 4:30 a.m. Pacific time during a rainstorm. There were no passengers in the vehicle although Kovac's wife was driving home in her own car. The couple had attended a baby shower for Milton Berle and his wife who had recently adopted a 3 year old boy.
The comedian, who always appeared on TV shows with his signature cigar, was found half-way outside the passenger side window with an unlit cigar nearby. Kovacs, who would have celebrated his 43rd birthday later in the month, lost control making a fast turn and there is some speculation that he may have been attempting to light his cigar at the time.
Kovacs had his own TV show in Philadelphia, 'Three to Get Ready', from 1951-1952, which was the first regularly scheduled early morning show in a major television market. Ernie appeared on many other shows in a comedy role including 'I Love Lucy' .
Critic William Henry III wrote...
"(Kovacs) was tv's first significant video artist--its first surrealist....its most daring and imaginative writer...he was a genius...in the realm of art....someone who causes an audience to look at the world in a new way."
*Ernest Edward Kovacs (1919-1962) was born in Trenton, N.J., son of immigrants from Hungary. EEK attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in 1937 and worked in a cigar store. His 1st job in broadcasting was at WTTM in Trenton, & his first in TV came in 1950.
"Kovacs Killed In Car Crash", Leominster (Massachusetts) Daily Enterprise, January 13, 1962.