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. He also voiced Ephialtes in the Hercules episode, "Hercules and the Muse of Dance." 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.