John Cherry, Creator of Jim Varney’s Ernest, Dies at 73

John Cherry, director of nearly every installment of the Ernest movie series, has passed away after a battle with Parkinson’s disease.

Very sad news has just come in as veteran filmmaker John R. Cherry III has passed away. The creator of the Ernest P. Worrell character famously portrayed by late actor Jim Varney, Cherry had directed nearly every installation of the Ernest movie series which had undoubtedly left a big impact on pop culture. On the official Ernest Facebook page, a statement was posted announcing that Cherry had died on Sunday after a battle with Parkinson’s disease. He was 73 years old.

“‘Buster,’ as his friends lovingly knew him by, was probably the most brilliant man I’ve ever met,” the statement reads. “Even as Parkinson’s began to rob him of some things, that creative mind of his was always going full-force to the best of its ability. He was kind, amazingly funny, generous and had a heart of gold. In addition to being a brilliant writer, he was also an amazing artist, a skilled fisherman, and an all-around amazing human being. “


Addressing the Ernest fans, the statement added, “I want you all to know how much he loved hearing from you and seeing your love of Ernest. Those of you who came out to meet him at Ernest Day, often bringing your children with you and telling him how you introduced your kids to Ernest and how they now love the movies too … it truly made his day. I will never forget the joy in his eyes after that first Ernest Day. You truly have no idea how much hearing those stories and seeing the love you still all have for his creations meant to him.Thank you so much for loving Ernest and bringing Buster so much joy over the years, especially in these last several years that have been so difficult for him.You truly brought him insurmountable joy in some of his darkest moments. ”

Related: Ernest Scared Stupid Celebrates 30th Anniversary

Ernest Movies Are Still Watched and Celebrated to This Day

The Ernest P. Worrell character was originally developed by Cherry for an advertising agency for which he worked at the time. He based the character on someone his father knew in real life, though it would have taken the perfect performer to really make Ernest strike a chord with fans. Jim Varney was cast in the role and made it work, and after his ads proved to be popular, Cherry and Varney teamed up to create the TV series Hey, Vern! It’s Ernest.

From there, Varney would star in a slew of feature films about Ernest in the 80s and 90s. Cherry directed every single one of these films except for Ernest Goes to School. He also directed the 1999 films The All New Adventures of Laurel & Hardy in For Love or Mummy and Pirates of the Plain, neither of which featured Varney, whose health was declining at the time. Varney passed away in 2000. These days, fans remember Ernest through an annual Ernest Day celebration, and Cherry had personally attended to meet with fans. A documentary about the legacy of the Ernest movies is now in the works.

Cherry’s survivors include his kids, Josh, Emilie, and Chapman. Our thoughts go out to them along with the rest of Cherry’s friends and other loved ones at this painful time. His contributions to film will never be forgotten as someone responsible for bringing so much laughter to millions throughout the world. Rest in peaceJohn Cherry.


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