Ernest P. Worrell

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Ernest P. Worrell
Ernest P. Worrell character
Ernest P. Worrell.jpg
Jim Varney as Ernest P. Worrell
Created byCarden and Cherry advertising agency[1]
Portrayed byJim Varney[2]
RelativesSee below
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Ernest P. Worrell
Ernest P. Worrell character
Ernest P. Worrell.jpg
Jim Varney as Ernest P. Worrell
Created byCarden and Cherry advertising agency[1]
Portrayed byJim Varney[2]
RelativesSee below

Ernest P. Worrell is a fictional character portrayed by American actor Jim Varney in a series of television commercials, and later in a television series (Hey Vern, It's Ernest!) as well as a series of feature films. Ernest was created by the Nashville advertising agency Carden and Cherry and was used in various local television ad campaigns.[3] The only national products he promoted were Coca-Cola, Sprite, TaB,[4] Mello Yello, Chex, and Taco John's.[5] The first Ernest commercial, filmed in 1980, advertised an appearance by the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders at Beech Bend Park, an amusement park near Bowling Green, Kentucky. The format of the commercials seldom varied. The rubber-faced Ernest, almost always dressed in a denim vest and baseball cap, appeared at the door of an unseen and unheard but seemingly unwilling neighbor named Vern. The spots were structured in a way to allow the viewer to be "Vern", as Varney looked directly in the camera whenever Vern was addressed. Ernest's seemingly pointless conversations with Vern – which were actually a monologue due to Vern never responding – inevitably rambled around to a favorable description of the sponsor's product, followed by his signature close, "KnowhutImean?"[6] While Vern is never shown to ever say anything, it is implied that he finds Ernest to be an unwelcome pest due to him trying to slam his door in Ernest's face on a few occasions. Vern also shakes his head "No" whenever Ernest invites him to do something. Ernest, despite having good intentions, is utterly oblivious to Vern's apparent distress regarding him and always regards Vern as his closest buddy and confidant.


The Ernest ads were shot with a handheld film camera at the Nashville-area home of producer John Cherry and Jerry Carden. As their number of clients increased, Varney sometimes did upwards of 25 different versions of a spot in a single day, due to his photographic memory...he would read through the script one time then insert the various products names on different takes.[7][8] The commercials and the character had definite impact; children especially seemed to imitate Ernest and "KnoWhutimean?" became a catchphrase. A television series, Hey Vern, It's Ernest!, and a series of theatrically released motion pictures followed.[9] Although the television series won Varney a Daytime Emmy Award for his performance, the movies were not critically well-received; however, the latter were produced on very low budgets and were quite profitable. In the films, Ernest is apparently somewhat aware of his extreme resistance to harm, as in Ernest Rides Again, he seemed barely fazed by nails bending after being fired at his skull, remarking 'Good thing they hit the hard end', he also commented that he would be dead "If I wasn't this close to being an actual cartoon." Varney in his Ernest role appeared in dozens of Cerritos Auto Square commercials for many years on Los Angeles area television stations, along with commercials for Audubon Chrysler Center in Henderson, Kentucky, John L. Sullivan auto dealerships in the Sacramento, California area, the Pontiac, Michigan-based electronics store ABC Warehouse, and the Oklahoma City-based Braum's Ice Cream and Dairy Store. In the Southeast, the Ernest character was the spokesman for Purity milk. In 2005, after the death of Varney, the Ernest P. Worrell character returned in new commercials as a CGI cartoon, created by an animation company called face2face and produced by Ernest originators Carden & Cherry. Ernest was voiced by John C. Hudgens, an advertising and broadcast producer from Little Rock, Arkansas, who also played an Ernest type character in some regional live action commercials.


Ernest has a large family made up of people with similar traits to him, all of whom were portrayed by Jim Varney. Varney, as Worrell, mentioned that his family was from Kentucky when he hosted Happy New Year, America on CBS December 31, 1988. Most of Worrell's family members had their appearance in either Knowhutimean? Hey Vern, It's My Family Album and Your World as I See It.

The Worrell Family[edit]


Ernest also had several pets during the course of his career. They are listed below in order of appearance.



Box office[edit]

FilmRelease dateBox office revenueReference
Ernest Goes to CampMay 22, 1987$23,509,382[10]
Ernest Saves ChristmasNovember 11, 1988$28,202,109[10]
Ernest Goes to JailApril 6, 1990$25,029,569[10]
Ernest Scared StupidOctober 11, 1991$14,143,280[10]
Ernest Rides AgainNovember 12, 1993$1,450,029[10]

Recurring cast[edit]

ActorDr. Otto and the Riddle of the Gloom BeamErnest Goes to CampHey Vern, It's Ernest!Ernest Saves ChristmasErnest Goes to JailErnest Scared StupidErnest Rides AgainErnest Goes to SchoolSlam Dunk ErnestErnest Goes to AfricaErnest in the Army
Jim Varney
(Ernest P. Worrell)
Green tickYGreen tickYGreen tickYGreen tickYGreen tickYGreen tickYGreen tickYGreen tickYGreen tickYGreen tickYGreen tickY
Gailard Sartain
(as Chuck)
Red XNGreen tickYGreen tickYGreen tickYGreen tickYRed XNRed XNRed XNRed XNRed XNRed XN
Bill Byrge
(as Bobby)
Green tickYRed XNGreen tickYGreen tickYGreen tickYGreen tickYRed XNGreen tickYRed XNRed XNRed XN
Jackie Welch
(as Various)
Green tickYRed XNGreen tickYGreen tickYGreen tickYGreen tickYRed XNRed XNRed XNRed XNRed XN
Daniel Butler
(as Various)
Green tickYGreen tickYGreen tickYGreen tickYGreen tickYGreen tickYRed XNRed XNRed XNRed XNRed XN
Linda Kash
(as Various)
Red XNRed XNRed XNRed XNRed XNRed XNGreen tickYGreen tickYRed XNGreen tickYRed XN
John R. Cherry III
(as Various)
Red XNRed XNRed XNRed XNRed XNRed XNRed XNRed XNRed XNGreen tickYGreen tickY


Ernest has been parodied in numerous TV shows, including Beavis & Butt-head, Family Guy and The Simpsons. Some of the "fake" Ernest movies from The Simpsons include Ernest Needs A Kidney, Ernest vs the Pope and Ernest Goes Somewhere Cheap. In the Beavis and Butthead episode "At the Movies," the boys are watching Ernest at the drive-in. Ernest is inside the Statue of Liberty and comes across a door with a sign that reads "DO NOT ENTER." However, Ernest misreads it as "donut entry" and opens the door, falling through the statue's nose. In an episode of Family Guy, Peter Griffin can't decide which (fake) Ernest movie to rent: Ernest Goes to the Beach or Ernest Doesn't Go to the Beach.

Commercials on home video[edit]

Most of Ernest's commercials can be seen on VHS tapes from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, Touchstone Pictures, and Hollywood Pictures Home Video. Many are also available on DVD from Mill Creek Entertainment and Image Entertainment.


A paperback book, "The Ernest P. Worrell Book of Knawledge" (sic) was published by Camden and Cherry in 1986. A 16" Ernest talking doll was produced by Kenner in 1989.


In October 2012 a film reboot was announced, tentatively titled Son of Ernest. As suggested by the title the film will focus on Ernest's long lost son, presumably Ernie P. Worrell as mentioned above.[11]


  1. ^ "Jim Varney; Comedic Actor Played Rube Ernest P. Worrell in Commercials, Movies". Los Angeles Times. 2000-02-11. Retrieved 2010-10-06. 
  2. ^ "Ernest P. Gets Rich With Vern". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved 2010-10-06. 
  3. ^ Kalafut, Kathy (1990-04-13). "Hey Vern, I'm a star". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2010-10-06. 
  4. ^ "Ernest in 'Quite the Little Shopper'". YouTube. 2007-11-14. Retrieved 2013-09-01. 
  5. ^ "Taco John's Ad with Jim Varney as Ernest". YouTube. 2010-04-05. Retrieved 2013-09-01. 
  6. ^ "Actor Jim "Ernest" Varney dies at 50". Salon. Archived from the original on 2009-06-15. Retrieved 2009-06-15. 
  7. ^ Willman, Chris (1993-11-16). "Varney: The Importance of Being Ernest". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-06. 
  8. ^ Willman, Chris (1993-11-16). "Actor Varney Comfortable as Ernest". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-06. 
  9. ^ Dubois, Stephanie (1989-07-08). "Jim Varney Hopes Cards And Letters Keep Pouring In To Save Poor Ernest". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2010-10-06. 
  10. ^ a b c d e "Ernest Moviesat the Box Office". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2013-09-01. 
  11. ^ Anderton (2012-10-12). "Son of Ernest to serve as reboot of long running comedy series". 

External links[edit]