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1960s / Ernie Kovacs Fatal Car Crash
Early on the morning of January 13, 1962, comedian Ernie Kovacs was killed in a single-vehicle accident in Beverly Hills. He was 10 days away from his 43rd birthday. Kovacs had attended a party at the home of Milton Berle to celebrate the Christening of Berle's son. Kovacs and wife Edie Adams arrived in separate cars. Adams left the party not long before her husband. During a sudden rainstorm, Kovacs lost control of his vehicle on a curve. It slammed into a utility pole, partially ejecting Kovacs from the car. He died instantly from massive head and chest injuries. Police theorized Kovacs may have lost control of the car while groping for one of his trademark cigars. Kovacs was driving a Corvair, a vehicle later exposed by Ralph Nader for being unsafe in turns. Many newspapers featured a photo of Kovacs' dead body at the accident scene. Largely forgotten today, Kovacs was a brilliant comedian whose off-the-wall humor was years ahead of his time. David Letterman cites Kovacs as a huge influence. At the time of his death Kovacs was deeply in debt with the IRS. (Kovacs believed the taxation system was unfair so he steadfastly refused to pay income tax.) His widow worked for years to clear his debt. A daughter of Kovacs and Adams also died in a car crash in 1982.