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Comic actor Harvey Korman dies at 81

  • Story Highlights
  • "Carol Burnett Show" regular won Emmy awards, Golden Globe for work on series
  • Movies included "Blazing Saddles," "High Anxiety," "History of the World, Part 1"
  • Daughter: Actor was called "miracle man" because of strong will after surgeries
  • Director Mel Brooks: "He always made it real, always made it work," AP says
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LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Comic actor Harvey Korman has died at 81, according to the UCLA Medical Center.

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Harvey Korman's death comes after complications from the rupture of an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

Korman died at the center four months after suffering complications from the rupture of an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

"It was a miracle in itself that he survived the incident at all. Everyone in the hospital referred to him as 'miracle man' because of his strong will and ability to bounce right back after several major operations," said Korman's daughter, Kate Korman. "Tragically, after such a hard-fought battle, he passed away."

Korman was a regular on "The Carol Burnett Show" from 1967 through 1978, for which he won Emmy awards in 1969, 1971, 1972 and 1974. He also won a Golden Globe for his work on the series.

The lanky Korman also appeared in Mel Brooks' "Blazing Saddles" (as the sneering Hedley Lamarr), "High Anxiety" and "History of the World, Part 1."

He starred in his own short-lived situation comedy, "The Harvey Korman Show," in 1978, in which he portrayed Harvey Kavanaugh opposite Christine Lahti, who played his wife, Maggie.

He made dozens of appearances in other television shows and movies during his lengthy show-business career, including providing voices for several animated productions. Among those was The Great Gazoo, a helmeted space man who appeared in some episodes of "The Flintstones."

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Angie Horejsi, an assistant to Burnett, told The Associated Press that Burnett was devastated by Korman's death: "She loved Harvey very much," Horejsi said.

The AP also reported that Brooks described Korman as a "dazzling" comic talent.

"You could get rock-solid comedy out of him. He could lift the material. He always made it real, always made it work, always believed in characters he was doing," he said, according to AP.

Korman was born in Chicago, Illinois. His first marriage, to Donna Ehlert in 1960, ended in divorce in 1974. He married Deborah Fritze in 1982. Both marriages produced two children.

Korman landed some sketch work on "The Red Skelton Show" in 1961, followed by a four-year stint on "The Danny Kaye Show," which led to his joining Carol Burnett in 1967.

In addition to his wife and daughter, Korman is survived by three other adult children -- Laura, Maria and Chris -- and three grandchildren.

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