John R. Cherry III, Creator Of Ernest P. Worrell, Dead At 73

John R. Cherry III, Creator Of Ernest P. Worrell, Dead At 73

The late filmmaker, best known for creating the character Ernest P. Worrell, reportedly passed away after a lengthy battle with Parkinson's.

John R. Cherry III, the director and screenwriter known for creating the character Ernest P. Worrell, died on May 8 at the age of 73. The news was announced via a post shared on the official Ernest P. Worrell Facebook page, which revealed that the late filmmaker had passed away after a lengthy battle with Parkinson's. "Unfortunately, I have some devastating news to share with you all. Our beloved John Cherry passed away this morning after a long and well-fought battle with Parkinson's disease," wrote Melissa Laster, the administrator of the Ernest P. Worrell page.


"'Buster,' as his friends lovingly knew him by, was probably the most brilliant man I've ever met. 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," the loving tribute continues. "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," Laster wrote. "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."


According to Yahoo Entertainment, Cherry was born on October 11, 1948, in Nashville. He was executive vice president and co-namesake of the Nashville-based Carden and Cherry advertising agency, for which he the character of Ernest P. Worrell, a man who "thought he knew everything but did not know anything," basing him off a man who worked with Cherry's father. Ernest—famously portrayed by the late Jim Varney—appeared in a number of commercials throughout the early 1980s.


Cherry made his feature-length directorial debut through the 1985 sci-fi horror-comedy "Dr. Otto and the Riddle of the Gloom Beam," which was also the first film to feature the Ernest P. Worrell character. He went on to make a total of 10 films surrounding Ernest's shenanigans, and although they never reached critical acclaim, they were continuously profitable and became a core childhood memory for millions around the world. After Varney’s passing in February 2000 at age 50 following a battle with lung cancer, Cherry directed two more films, both in 1999: "For Love or Mummy" and "Pirates of the Plain."


According to WSMV, Carden and Cherry was purchased by bohan in the late 1990s. "John Cherry was truly one of the pioneers of Nashville's advertising industry. I am grateful that the bohan agency has ties to John and the legacy he leaves as a creative force and genuinely kind man," bohan President and CEO Shari Day said in a statement. "Our thoughts are with his family during this difficult time." Cherry is survived by his wife Ruthie and three children, Josh, Emilie and Chapman.


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