John R. Cherry III, creator of Ernest, passes away at 73
RIP John R. Cherry III. ❤️🙏 You brought joy to countless lives through your work.
Caryl Jane Espiritu

Most kids today might not know it, but back when their parents were little kids, there was one man who made their childhood a little more special. His name is John R. Cherry III, and he created one of the most iconic kids’ favorite characters. Sadly, the man passed away recently at the age of 73.

Do you remember Ernest P. Worrell?

Portrayed by actor Jim Varney, good ol’ Ernest is known for his films that added fun and adventure to every child’s life. Ernest Scared Stupid, Ernest Goes to Jail, and Ernest Saves Christmas are only some of the few memorable movies about this well-loved character.

While most people know the actor who plays the role, what everyone did not realize was that there are two men who helped to create and nurture this iconic persona. The man who acts him out flawlessly and convincingly is Jim Varney, but the person who created this legendary character is another man named John R. Cherry III.

A legendary character was born.

While working for the Carden and Cherry ad agency, John began to work on a character that he based on a friend who used to work with his father. He started building Ernest P.Worrell, his image, and his look as well as his trademark moves and characteristics.

At the time, Jim Varney was just beginning his career as a stand-up comedian. He was able to land the role of Ernest, which he initially portrayed back then in a series of commercials.

The two men constantly worked on building the character further, and finally brought him to the big screen in 1987 through the movie entitled Ernest Goes to Camp.

This was just the beginning of a long and fruitful journey for both men.

Jim wowed the audience and viewers while in front of the camera as the fun and adventure-loving Ernest, while John made sure that there was always something to watch out for as he worked his wonders behind the camera. Everybody loved Ernest, indeed.

Fans around the world can attest that Ernest is one unique guy who made their childhoods memorable and fun. His silly acts and adventures are worth the wait, he made kids smile and laugh out loud, too.

Although the movies starred in by Ernest were not filled with awards or record-breaking achievements, we cannot deny that they touched the hearts of children and families all over the world.

JohnR. Cherry finally bid goodbye.

In 2000, Jim passed away because of lung cancer. Although he is long gone, there are still fans who pay tribute to his incredible contribution to their childhoods. And now, more than two decades later, the man behind the character has also made his final bow and passed away at the age of 73 because of Parkinson’s disease.

In a statement posted on Facebook, John’s family sent their heartfelt gratitude and message for all the fans who have made John’s life even more meaningful and happy.

“I want you all to know how much he loved hearing from you and seeing your love of Ernest,” the post read. “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.”

The creative genius, fondly called by his close friends and family in the name of “Buster”, has left nothing but beautiful things for the fans of Ernest and for the people who truly knew him.

With much gratefulness and love, the post ended with a message that the love from Ernest fans all over the world has made Buster’s life full of joy, even in the last few years that he struggled with his disease.

True enough, the man’s creativity in making Ernest as silly, fun, and adventurous as he is has affected so many children’s lives and made each day fun and exciting. We may have lost Buster, but his legacy lives on.

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By Caryl Jane Espiritu
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Caryl Jane Espiritu is a contributor at SBLY Media.