born Doris Kappelhoff, well, you can look it up on Wikipedia. But since Conway was born right here in my hometown of Cleveland (actually, Willoughby, a suburb of Cleveland) I've decided a little more detail is necessary, since you might not get it anywhere else. First off, Tim Conway was known as Tom Conway here in Cleveland. Not that he was all that well-known here in Cleveland before he was anywhere else, but that's the name he went under when he first went on the air here.
Waggoner left the show, Conway went from being a frequent guest star to castmember, but no one probably noticed the promotion (or, arguably, demotion, since being a guest star was supposed to be kind of a special thing) because they thought he had already been one for years! It's hard to pin down what he did as a guest star and what he did as a cast member, but there were several recurring characters. The World's Oldest Man, who moved at the World's Oldest Snail's pace. Mr. Tudball the stuffy businessman with the odd accent. And in the Mama's Family sketches (later spun off as a sitcom) he was hard-of-hearing country yokel Mickey Hart (was Conway a Grateful Dead fan?) But mostly, there were sketches where he played one-shot characters whose main goal seem to be make Burnett castmember Harvey Korman break up laughing on the air. In fact, it's said that these sketches were taped twice, first with Conway sticking to the script, and second with Conway allowed to ad lib, and the funniest version is what ended up on the air. Much to the chagrin of Burnett's writers (some of whom also wrote for Mad magazine), the second tapings often won out.
Tim Conway finally got to do a PG-rated movie when cult filmmaker and Corman protege Paul Bartel (Death Race 2000, Eating Raoul) agreed to direct a screenplay of his titled The Longshot, a thoroughbred racing comedy (Conway's father was a horse groomer.) I found the film funny, but it tanked at the box office, thus depriving the world, or at least the segment of the world that likes to go to midnight showings of movies, of further Conway-Bartel collaborations. So Conway went back to more innocuous fare, a good chunk of which involved a very little man with even littler feet and an odd accent, similar to Mr. Tubury's except this fellow's name was Dorf. Conway first played the character--supposedly a world-famous racehorse jockey--in a sketch on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. After that there was a how-to video parody titled Dorf on Golf that sold extremely well, leading to eight more videos, each of which had Dorf giving a lesson in a sport that he hadn't come close to mastering himself. It was shamelessly broad comedy, but the sheer technical brilliance and slapstick skill in which it was carried out--Conway had to stand in a hole with fake shoes taped to his knees--was worthy of Buster Keaton.
So what else is there? In 1999 he was reunited with his McHale's Navy castmate Ernest Borgnine, as both lent their voices to the characters Barnacle Bill and Mermaid Man on the animated SpongeBob SquarePants show. And he did guest shots on a lot of other shows, both animated and live-action, picked up several cabinets-worth of Emmys and lifetime achievement awards, and was a ubiquitous pop culture presence up until about a year or so ago when declining health finally got the best of him.
Earlier I mentioned a fellow by the name of Chuck Schodowski, who directed Ernie's Place, even though Conway was supposed to direct it. Well, like Ernie Anderson before him, he eventually became a late-night horror movie host. For over forty years, "Big Chuck" and, originally co-host Bob "Hoolihan" Wells, later "Little" John Rinaldi, presented Friday night viewers in Northeast Ohio Laugh-In-style blackout gags along with the usual black-and-white vampires, werewolves, and tentacled aliens. In the following two such sketches, an old friend pops up:
Tom Conway never forgot where he came from.