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George Kennedy

  • Birthplace: New York City
  • Birthday: February 18
Date of passing: 
February 28, 2016

Obituary

George Kennedy was a prolific actor best known for his Oscar-winning role in the 1967 film Cool Hand Luke. The classic film starred Paul Newman as a man who refused to conform to life in a rural prison. Kennedy won a supporting actor Oscar for his role as Dragline, the prisoners’ leader.

Kennedy also appeared regularly in 1970s disaster movies, including Earthquake, with Charlton Heston and Ava Gardner. Additionally, he appeared in the Airport franchise as Joe Patroni, the chief mechanic (alongside Burt Lancaster, Dean Martin, Charlton Heston and Jack Lemmon), as well as the Naked Gun police comedy franchise, starring Leslie Nielsen.

He also appeared extensively on television, including roles on the series The Deputy, Laramie, Maverick, Route 66, The Untouchables, Rawhide, Perry Mason, The Andy Griffith Show, Bonanza, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Gunsmoke, The Virginian, Fantasy Island, The Love Boat and The Young and the Restless.

In addition, he had starring roles in two short-lived TV series, including 1971’s Sarge, as Father Samuel Cavanaugh, a priest who had formerly worked as a homicide detective, and 1975’s The Blue Knight, based on the novel by Joseph Wambaugh, as Bumper Morgan, a Los Angeles beat cop. He also held a recurring role from 1988 to 1991 on the long-running primetime soap opera Dallas, appearing on 67 episodes as Carter McKay, an adversary to the central Ewing family.

George Kennedy was a prolific actor best known for his Oscar-winning role in the 1967 film Cool Hand Luke. The classic film starred Paul Newman as a man who refused to conform to life in a rural prison. Kennedy won a supporting actor Oscar for his role as Dragline, the prisoners’ leader.

Kennedy also appeared regularly in 1970s disaster movies, including Earthquake, with Charlton Heston and Ava Gardner. Additionally, he appeared in the Airport franchise as Joe Patroni, the chief mechanic (alongside Burt Lancaster, Dean Martin, Charlton Heston and Jack Lemmon), as well as the Naked Gun police comedy franchise, starring Leslie Nielsen.

He also appeared extensively on television, including roles on the series The Deputy, Laramie, Maverick, Route 66, The Untouchables, Rawhide, Perry Mason, The Andy Griffith Show, Bonanza, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Gunsmoke, The Virginian, Fantasy Island, The Love Boat and The Young and the Restless.

In addition, he had starring roles in two short-lived TV series, including 1971’s Sarge, as Father Samuel Cavanaugh, a priest who had formerly worked as a homicide detective, and 1975’s The Blue Knight, based on the novel by Joseph Wambaugh, as Bumper Morgan, a Los Angeles beat cop. He also held a recurring role from 1988 to 1991 on the long-running primetime soap opera Dallas, appearing on 67 episodes as Carter McKay, an adversary to the central Ewing family.

Kennedy’s other films include Lonely Are the Brave, with Kirk Douglas; Charade, starring Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn; In Harm’s Way, starring John Wayne; Mirage, with Gregory Peck; Shenandoah, starring Jimmy Stewart; The Dirty Dozen, with Lee Marvin and Ernest Borgnine; The Boston Strangler, with Tony Curtis and Henry Fonda; Dirty Dingus Magee, with Frank Sinatra; Thunderbolt and Lightfoot with Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges; Don’t Come Knocking, with Sam Shepard and Jessica Lange; and his last credit, The Gambler, starring Mark Wahlberg.

Kennedy first appeared onstage at the age of two; as an adult, he spent 16 years in the U.S. Army, working for Armed Forces Radio. He served as technical adviser to The Phil Silvers Show from 1956 to 1959, which led to his early career in television.

He also wrote the murder mysteries Murder on Location, published in 1983, and Murder on High, released in 1984. His autobiography, Trust Me, was published in 2011.

Kennedy died February 28, 2016, in Boise, Idaho. He was 91.

 

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