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James Albert Varney, Jr. was an American actor, comedian, and writer who was best known for his role as the bumbling country bumpkin Ernest P. Worrell, who first appeared in a series of commercials popular in the United States, especially Nashville, Tennessee. Disney took notice of the character's popularity and produced a feature film called Ernest Goes to Camp, starring Varney as Ernest. Varney's acting abilities led him to many roles both as an actor and a voice artist. He appeared as the voice of Slinky in the Pixar films Toy Story, Toy Story 2, and in the video game Animated StoryBook: Toy Story and Toy Story: Activity Center. Shortly before work began on Toy Story 2, Varney was diagnosed with lung cancer and died, while he was recording lines for another Disney film Atlantis: The Lost Empire, which was released a year after his death. In Toy Story 3, his friend, Blake Clark took over as the voice of Slinky. Clark will likely reprise the role in Toy Story 4.
- Jim was good friends with comedian Blake Clark in real life. In an interview for Toy Story 3, Clark described Varney as a very good friend and man.