Kovacs' father Andrew immigrated from Hungary at age 13. He worked as a policeman, restaurateur, and bootlegger; the last so successfully that he moved his wife Mary, and sons Tom and Ernie, into a 20-room mansion in the better part of Trenton. Though a poor student, Kovacs was influenced deeply by his Trenton Central High School drama teacher, Harold Van Kirk, and received an acting scholarship at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in 1937 with Mr. Van Kirk's help. The end of Prohibition and the Depression brought hard financial times to the family. When Kovacs began drama school, all he could afford was a fifth floor walk-up apartment on West 74th Street in New York City.At WPTZ.