Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Ernest, the lovable blue-collar buffoon, was a staple of pop culture in countless commercials, nearly a dozen movies and an award-winning Saturday-morning TV show. Today, millions of fans still mourn the loss of actor Jim Varney, who portrayed Ernest and who died at age 50 in 2000 of cancer. Ernest fans are finally getting the biography they have been waiting for in this comprehensive work by Jim's nephew, Justin Lloyd. "The Importance of Being Ernest: The Life of Actor Jim Varney" traces Jim's journey from a child in Lexington, Kentucky, with dreams of being a stage and film actor to becoming an iconic entertainment figure in the tradition of Charlie Chaplin's "The Little Tramp."
The book is based on numerous interviews with family members and intimates of Jim who have never spoken publicly before about what drove the actor and how he overcame many personal and professional obstacles to attain success. But with that success came a price: Jim longed for stage and film roles beyond Ernest, and they were difficult to come by because of his symbiosis with the character. Yet Jim persevered, ultimately winning major movie roles such as Jed Clampett in "The Beverly Hillbillies" and (the voice of) Slinky Dog in the first two "Toy Story" films. The book also explores the genius of the small Nashville advertising agency that created Ernest and how it spread his popularity decades before "going viral" became associated with achieving global stardom. Even at the height of his career, Jim never forgot he was a descendant of Appalachian coal miners, and he remained true to his values, his friends and his family.
Jim always strove for authenticity and humanity inside his hillbilly humor, endearing him to fans from every walk of life. "The Importance of Being Ernest: The Life of Actor Jim Varney" documents the life of an unforgettable figure in American comedy whose legacy endures today and contains never-before-seen photos from the Varney family's private collection.