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For other, similarly named persons, see Pat McCormick (disambiguation)

Pat McCormick (June 30, 1927 – July 29, 2005)[1] was an American actor and comedy writer known for playing Big Enos Burdette in Smokey and the Bandit and its two sequels. He wrote for a number of performers such as Red Skelton, Phyllis Diller and Johnny Carson as well as for shows including Get Smart. McCormick had a distinctive appearance being six feet, seven inches tall, weighing 250 pounds and having a walrus mustache.

Pat McCormick
Born (1927-06-30)June 30, 1927
Lakewood, Ohio, U.S.
Died July 29, 2005(2005-07-29) (aged 78)
Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, U.S.
Occupation Actor, comedy writer
Years active 1957–1997
Height 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)
Children Ben McCormick


Early life and careerEdit

McCormick was born in Lakewood, Ohio , and was a 1945 graduate of Rocky River High School.[2]

McCormick was a high school athlete and served in the United States Army during World War II. He then enrolled at Harvard as a freshman in the fall of 1947 where he played basketball that year. He later dropped basketball to concentrate on track (hurdles). He dropped out of Harvard Law School for a career in advertising but abandoned that career as well when he started writing jokes for television and standup comedians, including Jonathan Winters. Eventually, he became a writer for The Jack Paar Show. He wrote for Get Smart, The Danny Kaye Show and wrote and appeared on Candid Camera. He was also a member of the I've Got a Secret production staff in the early 1960s.[3][4][5][6]

McCormick was both the announcer and straight man for Don Rickles on The Don Rickles Show in 1968. He was a regular on The New Bill Cosby Show in 1972. Behind the scenes, he was one of the lead writers on The Tonight Show writing many of its most well-known lines. He wrote the line "Due to today's earthquake, the God is Dead rally has been canceled." As part of a skit on a Jonathan Winters special McCormick, as a court jester, quipped to the regally-attired Winters "Is that a scepter in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?" a quite risque line for early 1970s television.[3][5][6]

His first screen performance was in The Shaggy D.A. in 1976. He played President Grover Cleveland in Robert Altman's Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson in the same year. In 1977, he appeared in Smokey and the Bandit and appeared in the sequels in both 1980 and 1983, alongside Paul Williams as wealthy con men Big and Little Enos Burdette respectively. Pat appeared in the 1982 TV movie Rooster, which also starred Williams. He appeared as the Ghost of Christmas Present in a TV production in the Bill Murray comedy Scrooged in 1988, with his final appearance being in Ted & Venus.[7]

He made frequent appearances as a panelist on innumerable television game shows including I've Got a Secret and The Gong Show. He also enjoyed a successful radio and television voice-over career.[citation needed]

Retirement and deathEdit

Living in Palm Springs, California in 1996,[8]

McCormick retired in 1998 after being left partly paralyzed by a stroke leading to his admission to the Motion Picture and Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, California in that year. He died there seven years later, aged 78.

His interment was located in Forest Lawn – Hollywood Hills Cemetery. He was survived by a son, Ben, and a grandson. There is no evidence that, as has been claimed, that Pat had a twin brother (who assumed a different surname), Sgt. James McKittrick, of Chicago.


  1. ^ Although media reports of his death state he was 78, states that he was born on July 17, 1934. The Social Security Death Index lists a Patrick B. McCormick born June 30, 1927 who died July 29, 2005.
  2. ^ Although and have reported that McCormick was born in Rocky River, Ohio, this is not supported by his obituaries in the New York Times and Los Angeles Times (cited below), nor by stories in the Cleveland Plain Dealer during his lifetime (cited below) that stated he was born in Lakewood, Ohio, and then grew up in Rocky River, Ohio, a neighboring town to Lakewood.
  3. ^ a b Hickey, William. "Pat McCormick: Jolly Green Giant", Cleveland Plain Dealer, September 13, 1968, PD Action Tab magazine section, p. 3.
  4. ^ "McCormick Giving Radio Static", Cleveland Plain Dealer, October 23, 1977, Section 5, p. 17.
  5. ^ a b Heffernan, Virginia. "Pat McCormick, 78, Comedian and Writer for 'Tonight Show', Dies", New York Times, August 2, 2005.
  6. ^ a b Thurber, Jon. "Pat McCormick, 78; Comedy Writer Had a Gift for Wacky Humor", Los Angeles Times, July 30, 2005.
  7. ^ "Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson". 24 June 1976. Retrieved 21 December 2017. 
  8. ^ Meeks, Eric G. (2012). The Best Guide Ever to Palm Springs Celebrity Homes. Horatio Limburger Oglethorpe. p. 231. ISBN 978-1479328598. 

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