Pat McCormick


Veteran comic Pat McCormick was one of those second-tier funnymen whose careers enjoy great longevity on the stand-up and TV variety circuits but fall just short of making it to the all-stars. As a gag writer, however, he reigned supreme. Pat was born on June 30, 1927, in Lakewood, Ohio. Already a king-sized presence in high school, he proved himself a championship hurdler. Shortly after World War II he entered the Army. Discharged in 1948, he had initial designs on a law career but dropped out of Harvard Law School to work in advertising in New York City. On the sly he started writing comedy material for stand-up artists and for TV, forming a duo comedy act in the process with comedian-turned-writer Marc London, whom he had known from his days at Harvard. In the meantime Pat began writing special material for the likes of Phyllis Diller, Jonathan Winters and Henny Youngman. Pat's big break came when he was hired by Jack Paar to write for his family talk show. This created a chain reaction, as his expertise with offbeat, often warped humor was utilized by Merv Griffin, Red Skelton, Danny Kaye, Lucille Ball, Bette Midler and, notably, Johnny Carson for 12 years on his "Tonight Show." Pat also wrote for such TV shows as "Candid Camera" and "Get Smart." In the '60s, at age 40+, he finally started appearing before the camera. He earned a job as announcer and regular straight man for Don Rickles on his short-lived TV variety show in 1968 and then became a regular on The New Bill Cosby Show (1972). Known for his towering but harmless girth, walrus-styled mustache and balding, combed-over hair style, Pat became a standard fixture on the talk show circuit and the ever-popular Friars Club roasts shown sporadically featuring contemporary comrades Jackie Gayle, Shelley Berman, Slappy White and Shecky Greene. His voice became a well-oiled instrument in hundreds of radio ads and commercials, many of which he wrote. As for film, the 6'7", 270-pound comedian was best known for playing Big Enos Burdette alongside Burt Reynolds in Smokey and the Bandit (1977) and its 1980 and 1983 sequels. He was also utilized by esteemed director Robert Altman in a couple of his films, portraying hefty President Grover Cleveland in Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson (1976) and Dina Merrill's moneybags husband in A Wedding (1978). He added to the innocuous fun in such popcorn movies as The Shaggy D.A. (1976), Scavenger Hunt (1979), The Gong Show Movie (1980), Under the Rainbow (1981) (for which he also wrote the screenplay), Doin' Time (1985), Rented Lips (1988), and his last, Ted & Venus (1991). On TV, besides the various variety and talk shows he frequented, he appeared as an actor in the sitcoms "Sanford and Son," "Laverne & Shirley," "The Golden Girls" and "Grace Under Fire," among others. Following a massive stroke in 1998 which rendered him speechless and paralyzed, Pat was placed in permanent care at the Motion Picture & Television Hospital in Woodland Hills, California. He passed away there on July 29, 2005, and was survived by son Ben and a grandson.


Movie Name Release Date
Smokey and the Bandit May 27, 1977