John Cherry, creator of ‘Ernest’ character, dies at 73

John Cherry, the film director and screenwriter, has died at the age of 73, WSMV4 reports

Cherry is most well-known for creating the memorable character Ernest P. Worrell, which was played for a number of years by the late actor Jim Varney.

Cherry’s passing was announced via Ernest’s official Facebook page.

“Unfortunately, I have some devastating news to share with you all,” Melissa Laster, the page’s administrator, wrote on Sunday. “Our beloved John Cherry passed away this morning after a long and well-fought battle with Parkinson’s disease.”

Cherry’s creation of Ernest

Cherry created the Ernest character back when he was part of the Nashville-based advertising agency Carden and Cherry.

WSMV4 reports:

According to [Cherry’s] book [Keeper of the Clown: My Life With Ernest], he created Ernest to promote an event at a Kentucky amusement park. The popularity grew after the airing and was picked up by regional big names such as Purity Dairies, based in Nashville. He was a staple in Purity commercials throughout the 1980s and eventually hit the big screen.

For 15 years, Ernest was portrayed by Varney. But, the character was retired as Varney battled lung cancer. Varney ended up dying of the illness in 2000.

“He loved . . . you”

In Laster’s Facebook post, she offers a touching tribute to Cherry. She particularly emphasized how much his Ernest fans meant to him, particularly as he battled Parkinson’s disease.

“I want you all to know how much he loved hearing from you and seeing your love of Ernest,” Laster wrote. “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,” Laster added. “You truly have no idea how much hearing those stories and seeing the love you still all have for his creations meant to him.”

Laster concluded by thanking the fans for bringing Cherry “so much joy over the years.”

Cherry is survived by his wife and three children.

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