Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Ernest, the lovable blue-collar buffoon, was a staple of pop culture in countless commercials, movies and a Saturday-morning TV show. Jim Varney was the actor who portrayed the unforgettable homespun character. Jim's nephew, Justin Lloyd, traces Jim’s journey from a talented young actor in Kentucky to an iconic entertainment figure who gained worldwide stardom. More
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.
“The Importance of Being Ernest: The Life of Actor Jim Varney” contains never-before-seen photos from the Varney family’s private collection.
Justin Lloyd is Jim Varney’s nephew. He spent over five years researching and writing “The Importance of Being Ernest: The Life of Actor Jim Varney.” It is his first book. Justin lives with his family in Central Kentucky.
Book Trailer for THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING ERNEST: THE LIFE OF ACTOR JIM VARNEY
This comprehensive biography explores the evolution of Jim's famous Ernest character who charmed millions through commercials, TV, and movies. From the hollers of Matewan, West Virginia, the home of Jim's Appalachian roots, to the hills of Hollywood, where Jim's acting dreams eventually found their way, readers are sure to be entertained by Jim's compelling journey.