Director: John R. Cherry III
Stars: Jim Varney, Douglas Seale, Oliver Clark, Noelle Parker
Shitty Gift Equivalent: Studying Shakespeare, performing Coward, and then spending your entire adult life playing an ad company created clown.
His films are not masterpieces, but we admittedly have a soft spot for the work of Ernest P. Worrell as portrayed by the late Jim Varney. So, apparently, did the rest of America.
Ernest was created by advertising company Carden and Cherry to sell things like Dairy Products and used cars. Varney's initial spots were a hit and soon he was placed in national spots for big name products, a TV show, and finally his own series of feature films, including Ernest Saves Christmas, in which he helps Santa Claus find a successor.
Varney was a classically trained actor, though he was still best known as Ernest when died at the age of 50 of lung cancer, his life's dream of playing Hamlet unfulfilled. Shortly before he died, Varney said this, "I've had Ernest in my pocket all this time, and he's always been something I can go back to and make a living. I would like to do some new techniques, stories that haven't been done before. I want to be artsy-craftsy and get into my Orson Welles stage." Rest in peace, Jim.