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"Movie Fan Bill Byrge A Budding Screen Star"
Richard Schweid
Staff Writer
Bill Byrge has always been an avid movie fan, but in all his years of sitting in theater audiences, he never thought he would be on the screen.
Now Byrge, 51 - who has worked for the Metro Public Library system for 22 years and is such a film buff that he used to answer movie trivia questions on radio's "Les Jameson Show" has a featured role in the upcoming movie starring "Jim Varney", "Ernest Goes To Jail".
In my wildest dreams it would never have crossed my mind that I would be in the movies, "Nyrge said recently in his dressing room, during a break in filming at an East Nashville warehouse/studio.
In 1986, John Cherry, vice president of Carden and Cherry Advertising agency here in Nashville, was developing a duo of commercial characters named Chuck and Bobby. Cherry saw a picture of Byrge and wanted him for the small, thin body to play to comedian Gaillard Sartain's corpulent Chuck.
Like Varney's character of Ernest P. Worrell, also developed by Cherry, Chuck and Bobby's weird personas were put to work selling everything from cars to appliances across the country.
We would find a client and tailor our ad to fit their needs, "Byrge said, "We haven;t done any commercials lately.
Last season they were featured regularly o the CBS Saturday morning Kids' show, Hey Vern, It's Ernest, which was canceled after ratings remained low.
Byrge and Sartain also played the role of the baggage handlers who try to ride he'd over Santa's reindeer in the last Varney film, "Ernest Saves Christmas".
Chuck and Bobby show up in large roles in the new film as security guards in the bank where Ernest works as a janitor.
Despite a lot of on screen time, Byrge has only one line, which, he said is one line more than he usually has, because Chuck is a silent character. "I've got on big line in this film, which I've already delivered, "he said, in a tone of satisfaction with a job well-done.
He may be silent, but Byrge's face is one you recognize once you've seen it, and he has been approached by people from all over the country.
We made quite a stir in Wichita, Kansas, and several people from there recognized me at Opryland, "he said. "Also some people knew me when I went down to the Space Center in Hunstville with the singles group from my church, the First Baptist."
If Ernest Goes To Jail does as well as the last two Ernest movies, Bill Byrge's face is about to be seen by many, many people. The University of Tennessee grad, a native of Campbell County in East Tennessee, said he will be well satisfied regardless of whether his acting career takes off or not.
"I'd like to act full time, it ever worked out that way, "he said. "God is in charge of my career and if He wanted me to go that , I would.
"I can also be quite satisfied with my career as it has been up to now. It it goes full time I'd be satisfied, but I'll be happy either way. Nashville Librarian
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