Antoinette Hawley

Written by Antoinette Hawley

Modified & Updated: 14 May 2024

Sherman Smith

Reviewed by Sherman Smith


Jim Varney was a legendary actor and comedian, best known for his iconic character Ernest P. Worrell. While many people may be familiar with his hilarious portrayal of Ernest, there are some surprising facts about Jim Varney that may not be as well-known. From his early career to his quirky hobbies, there is much more to this talented performer than meets the eye. In this article, we will explore 15 surprising facts about Jim Varney that will give you a deeper insight into his life and career. So, fasten your seatbelts and get ready to discover some interesting tidbits about the man behind the beloved character.

Key Takeaways:

  • Jim Varney, known for his iconic role as Ernest P. Worrell, was a comedic genius who also voiced Slinky Dog in “Toy Story” and inspired future comedians with his unique brand of comedy.
  • From stand-up comedy to Shakespearean productions, Jim Varney’s versatile talents, philanthropy, and enduring legacy continue to captivate and inspire fans worldwide.
Table of Contents

The Iconic Character: Ernest P. Worrell

One of Jim Varney’s most iconic roles was that of Ernest P. Worrell, a lovable and bumbling character that captured the hearts of millions. Ernest started as a local television commercial pitchman and soon became a beloved movie character, starring in a series of films that showcased Varney’s comedic talent.

A Comedic Genius

Jim Varney was widely regarded as a comedic genius, known for his impeccable timing and ability to make audiences laugh. His unique style of physical comedy and hilarious one-liners endeared him to fans of all ages.

From Commercials to Hollywood

Before his success in Hollywood, Jim Varney gained recognition for his work in television commercials. His memorable appearances as Ernest in commercials for various products eventually led to his transition into feature films.

The Voice Behind Slinky Dog

Did you know that Jim Varney provided the voice for Slinky Dog in the beloved “Toy Story” franchise? His distinctive voice brought the lovable character to life and contributed to the success of the animated films.

The Talented Musician

In addition to his acting career, Jim Varney was a talented musician. He played guitar, banjo, and piano, and his musical talents were occasionally showcased in his performances.

A Gifted Impersonator

Jim Varney had a knack for impersonations and could mimic various celebrities and characters with ease. His ability to capture the essence of different personalities added an extra layer of entertainment to his performances.

A Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Recognizing his contributions to the entertainment industry, Jim Varney was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. This prestigious accolade solidified his place as a beloved and respected actor.

Varney’s Influence on Future Comedians

Jim Varney’s unique brand of comedy has inspired many aspiring comedians. His ability to bring joy and laughter through his performances continues to influence and shape the world of comedy.

The Creator of “Hey Vern, It’s Ernest!”

Varney not only portrayed Ernest P. Worrell but also co-wrote and created the “Hey Vern, It’s Ernest!” television show. This program allowed audiences to indulge in more hilarious adventures with the beloved character.

A Charitable Heart

Jim Varney was known for his philanthropic efforts and actively supported charitable organizations. His generous spirit left a positive impact on both the entertainment industry and the community.

The Stand-Up Comedian

Before finding success in movies and television, Jim Varney started his career as a stand-up comedian. He honed his craft on the comedy club circuit, which helped shape his unique comedic style.

A Love for Shakespeare

Jim Varney had a deep admiration for William Shakespeare and even performed in various Shakespearean productions. His versatility as an actor extended beyond comedy, showcasing his talent in dramatic roles as well.

The Jim Varney Museum

Located in Nashville, Tennessee, the Jim Varney Museum is dedicated to preserving the legacy of the beloved actor. It showcases memorabilia, personal items, and highlights Varney’s contributions to the entertainment industry.

An Accomplished Author

Jim Varney had a passion for writing and authored several books during his lifetime. His works include humorous anecdotes, personal stories, and insights into his experiences in show business.

Fondly Remembered by Fans

Even years after his passing, Jim Varney continues to be fondly remembered by fans worldwide. His unique comedic talent and endearing performances ensure his place in the hearts of many.


In conclusion, Jim Varney was a multi-talented celebrity known for his iconic portrayal of the lovable character Ernest P. Worrell. Through his comedic talents, Varney entertained audiences for decades and left a lasting impact on the world of entertainment. From starting his career as a stand-up comedian to becoming a beloved movie star, Varney’s journey was filled with ups and downs. Despite facing challenges, he managed to carve a niche for himself and be remembered as a true legend in the industry. Whether it was his impeccable timing, memorable catchphrases, or his ability to bring laughter to people’s lives, Jim Varney will forever be cherished in the hearts of his fans.


1. When was Jim Varney born?

Jim Varney was born on June 15, 1949.

2. Where was Jim Varney born?

Jim Varney was born in Lexington, Kentucky, USA.

3. What is Jim Varney’s most famous character?

Jim Varney’s most famous character is Ernest P. Worrell, which he portrayed in numerous commercials, television shows, and movies.

4. How many Ernest movies were made?

A total of nine Ernest movies were made, featuring Jim Varney as the titular character.

5. Did Jim Varney win any awards for his performances?

While Jim Varney did not win any major awards, he was highly regarded for his comedic talents and beloved by his fans.

6. What other projects was Jim Varney involved in?

Aside from his portrayal of Ernest, Jim Varney also lent his voice to various animated characters, appeared in television shows, and had a successful career as a stand-up comedian.

7. When did Jim Varney pass away?

Jim Varney passed away on February 10, 2000, at the age of 50.

8. What is Jim Varney’s legacy?

Jim Varney’s legacy is one of laughter and entertainment. His portrayal of Ernest P. Worrell continues to bring joy to fans around the world, and he is remembered as a talented comedian and actor.

If you enjoyed learning about Jim Varney's incredible life and career, why not explore more fascinating facts about the world of entertainment? Discover the magic behind the beloved "Toy Story" franchise, laugh out loud with insights into the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, or be captivated by the extraordinary talents of renowned actor Daniel Day Lewis. Each story offers a unique glimpse into the lives and legacies of those who have shaped our cultural landscape, promising to inform, entertain, and inspire.

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