Ernest P. Worrell is a fictional character most principally portrayed by the late American actor Jim Varney (1949–2000) in a series of television commercials, and later in a television series (Hey Vern, It's Ernest!) as well as a series of feature film. Ernest was created by the Nashville advertising agency Carden and Cherry and was used in various local television ad campaigns. The only national products he promoted were The Coca-Cola Company's Sprite and Mello Yello soda brands.
The first Ernest commercial, filmed in 1980, advertised an appearance by the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders at Beech Bend Park, an amusement park located 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 a 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 soliloquy due to Vern never responding – inevitably rambled around to a favorable description of the sponsor's product, followed by his signature close, "KnoWhutImean?"
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.
The commercials and the character had definite impact; children especially seemed to imitate Ernest and "KnoWhutImean?" became a catch phrase. Such popularity was bound to be exploited, and both a television series, Hey Vern, It's Ernest!, and a series of theatrically-released motion pictures followed. The movies were not critically well-received; however, they 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; he also commented that he would be dead "If I wasn't this close to being an actual cartoon".
Read more about Ernest P. Worrell at Wikipedia ...
Official Site: The Estate of Jim Varney
Links: Wikipedia IMDB: Ernest Goes to Camp TV.Com: Hey Vern, its Ernest!