Jack Burns is well known for his work on The Muppet Show and The Andy Griffith Show. The comedian, voice actor, writer, actor, and producer contributed to hundreds of projects from the 1960s on. In the wake of his passing, let’s remember all he left us.
Jack Burns the Comedian
Burns started his entertainment career in comedy. When a radio station job in Fort Worth, Texas, connected him to George Carlin they started performing in coffeehouses. They worked together for two years and released an album of their comedic material entitled Burns and Carlin at the Playboy Club Tonight in 1963.
At Second City in Chicago, Burns met Avery Schreiber. They were best known for their taxicab bit where Schreiber was the driver and Burns was the chatty passenger. The Burns and Schreiber Comedy Hour premiered on ABC in 1973.
Burns also hosted Saturday Night Live in 1977, when the show was called NBC’S Saturday Night.
On the Andy Griffith Show
Burns was written into The Andy Griffith Show to replace Don Knotts’ Barney Fife character after Knotts left the show. The new deputy sheriff was short-lived, as his character was essentially useless and was received poorly by The Andy Griffith Show‘s audience. The character was dismissed from the show after a few episodes.
A sketch show from the early 1980s, Fridays, is where burns starting writing and announcing. He occasionally performed on the show as well. He staged the infamous on-air stage fight with comedian Andy Kaufman, who was either revered or completely misunderstood by audiences, depending on who you asked.
The Muppet Show
Burns became widely known for his association with the Muppets because he was a first season writer for both The Muppet Show and Hee Haw. The Muppet Show was widely well-received. Burns returned to the writers room for another Muppets project, The Muppet Movie.
Unfortunately, Jack Burns left us behind on January 27, 2020. He was 86 years old. He died in Los Angeles, California, due to respiratory failure. But he will be remembered for all the laughs he’s given us throughout the years.