My work affords me some really amazing opportunities to meet some really amazing people.
One of the greatest opportunities for me was to meet, to get to know, and to work personally with the comedy legend Tim Conway, who was a Parents Television Council advisory board member for over two decades. He passed away on Tuesday, May 14.
Most people think they know Tim as a modest, warm and incredibly funny man through the characters he played on TV such as Dorf, Mr. Tudball, or as the inept Dentist.
Here’s the real story: he was modest, warm and incredibly funny in real life, too. Amazingly funny. So funny that I literally had to use the restroom before I would talk to him, just to avoid the risk of an accident.
My special “secret” about Tim is that I shared with him a slightly-irreverent joke that my mother told me a dozen or so years ago; and he loved it so much that he decided to incorporate it into his traveling show.
He was always there when we needed him, whether it was to come to an event, to sign books to be used as special gifts to major benefactors, to write letters of support, or to offer his guidance when I needed it.
What also stands out about Tim Conway is this: He was fully committed to the mission of the Parents Television Council to create a safe and sound media environment for children. He understood that the TV was a visitor in our homes and that the visitor should be respectful. His letter to me in August 2006 reflects his all-too-rare viewpoint on this:
“’Oh, yeah, well what about the time you….’ How often has that phrase come into play during the heat of an argument? It’s an expression I feel some people might be saying about me when I take a stand to clean up the TV programming surrounding the times when children may be watching. To be honest, I don’t know of anyone, including myself, free enough of foul language that they could cast the first stone. Even my best friend, Father Olliver, dotted the air with a few off-color phrases when the tire wrench slipped and he hit his knuckles on the lug nut. But I did notice that he never repeated those phrases on Sunday when he delivered a sermon.
“To me, that’s what the PTC is trying to do when we make all the noise about cleaning up TV. Just put adult programming in the proper time slots. In the ‘old days’ you didn’t have to worry about the programming offending anyone. The TV set was a member of the family. You could laugh, or cry, or just relax together while you enjoyed the program. And you certainly looked forward to watching with the family. I don’t know about you, but some of the programming today is so embarrassing. I find it impossible to sit in a room with my kids and watch TV…and my kids are in their 30’s and 40’s. So, how about putting shows in their proper place? That way, family shows can be enjoyed by the entire family. Now that stone didn’t hurt, did it?”
[Click to read Tim Conway Letter]
What a blessing this man was to humanity. And what a blessing he will continue to be to the countless millions whom he will make laugh even after his departure from earth.
Rest in peace, Thomas Daniel Conway. God bless you.