Did You Know ‘Ernest Scared Stupid’ and ‘Toy Story’ Actor Was a Kentucky Native? [VIDEO]
You probably saw him dozens of times throughout the years. I'm sure you've HEARD him almost as much.
Sometimes actors become legendary without ever having a name that becomes a household word. For example, do you remember the old 7UP commercials featuring the actor with the deep, booming voice who brought the word "Uncola" into our national vocabulary?
That actor's name is Geoffrey Holder and he was the iconic spokesman for 7UP for a couple of decades with very few viewers actually KNOWING his name.
In commercials beginning nearly 40 years ago, actor and comedian Jim Varney began representing a variety of milk brands as Ernest P. Worrell, a character whose name we wouldn't know until a series of movies that launched in the late 80s. Whether it was for Country Fresh or Purity, he was on our televisions all the time. And his "Know what I mean?" is still a popular catchphrase and used by many who probably don't even know where it originated.
Varney was also a big star locally thanks to his work on commercials for Audubon Chrysler in Henderson.
But it was in 1987 that the "Ernest" movie franchise kicked off with Ernest Goes to Camp, which grossed $23.5 million dollars--a very respectable return considering its $3 million budget. By the way, that would be a $56 million-plus haul in 2021.
Jim Varney can also be heard as the voice of "Slinky Dog" in the first two Toy Story movies.
But did you know he was a native Kentuckian? Sure enough, he was born in Lexington in 1949 and is buried there. Varney died of lung cancer in 2000 at the age of 50, but his legacy was set.
If you watch Ernest Scared Stupid between now and Halloween, remember you'll be watching a Kentucky native who became an icon because of a simple question and an unmistakable voice.