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George Kennedy Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (4) | Trade Mark (3) | Trivia (22) | Personal Quotes (7) | Salary (1)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 18 February 1925New York City, New York, USA
Date of Death 28 February 2016Middleton, Idaho, USA  (natural causes)
Birth NameGeorge Harris Kennedy Jr.
Height 6' 4" (1.93 m)

Mini Bio (1)

George Harris Kennedy, Jr. was born on February 18, 1925 in New York City, to Helen A. (Kieselbach), a ballet dancer, and George Harris Kennedy, an orchestra leader and musician. Following high school graduation, Kennedy enlisted in the United States Army in 1943 with the hope to become a fighter pilot in the Army Air Corps. Instead, he wound up in the infantry, served under General George S. Patton and distinguished himself with valor. He won two Bronze Stars and four rows of combat and service ribbons.

A World War II veteran, Kennedy at one stage in his career cornered the market at playing tough, no-nonsense characters who were either quite crooked or possessed hearts of gold. Kennedy notched up an impressive 200+ appearances in both television and films, and was well respected within the Hollywood community. He started out on television Westerns in the late 1950s and early 1960s (Have Gun - Will Travel (1957), Rawhide (1959), Maverick (1957), Colt .45 (1957), among others) before scoring minor roles in films including Lonely Are the Brave (1962), The Sons of Katie Elder (1965) and The Flight of the Phoenix (1965).

The late 1960s was a very busy period for Kennedy, and he was strongly in favor with casting agents, appearing in Hurry Sundown (1967), The Dirty Dozen (1967) and scoring an Oscar win as Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Cool Hand Luke (1967). The disaster film boom of the 1970s was also kind to Kennedy and his talents were in demand for Airport (1970) and the three subsequent sequels, as a grizzled police officer in Earthquake (1974), plus the buddy/road film Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974) as vicious bank robber Red Leary.

The 1980s saw Kennedy appear in a mishmash of roles, playing various characters; however, Kennedy and Leslie Nielsen surprised everyone with their comedic talents in the hugely successful The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (1988), and the two screen veterans exaggerate themselves again, in The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear (1991) and Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult (1994). From 1988-1991, he also played Ewing family nemesis Carter McKay on the CBS prime-time soap opera Dallas (1978).

Kennedy also played President Warren G. Harding in the miniseries Backstairs at the White House (1979) and had a long standing role on the CBS daytime soap opera The Young and the Restless (1973). He remained busy in Hollywood and lent his distinctive voice to the animated Cats Don't Dance (1997) and the children's action film Small Soldiers (1998). A Hollywood stalwart for nearly 50 years, he is one of the most enjoyable actors to watch on screen. His last role was in the film The Gambler (2014), as Mark Wahlberg's character's grandfather.

George Kennedy died of natural causes in Middleton, Idaho on February 28, 2016, only ten days after his 91st birthday.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: firehouse44

Spouse (4)

Joan McCarthy (24 August 1978 - 14 September 2015) (her death) (1 child)
Norma Jean Wurman (22 November 1973 - 11 August 1978) (divorced)
Norma Jean Wurman (23 June 1959 - 1971) (divorced) (2 children)
Dorothy Theresa Gillooly (1946 - 23 June 1959) (divorced) (1 child)

Trade Mark (3)

Frequently played gruff blue-collar characters
Frequently played dependable sidekicks
Deep baritone voice

Trivia (22)

He and his wife Joan McCarthy adopted four children, including his granddaughter Taylor, whose mother, also adopted by Kennedy, had become addicted to drugs and alcohol.
He enlisted in the United States Army during World War II and went on to serve 16 years, both in combat, and in his later years, as an Armed Forces Radio and Television officer.
He and Joan McCarthy adopted their granddaughter in 1998, after their daughter was ruled unfit.
Kennedy is often mistakenly credited with a bit part in Spartacus (1960). Stuntman Bob Morgan resembles Kennedy closely, and it is he who is seen saying "I'm Spartacus!" in the famous scene. Kennedy had nothing to do with the film.
In the early 1970s, Paramount Pictures had plans that were unrealized to remake Double Indemnity (1944) with Kennedy in the Edward G. Robinson role.
He was the only actor to appear in all four of the "Airport" movie series.
Recently hosted the creation of a driving safety video.
Due to his tall, enormously broad frame, Kennedy was frequently cast in the 1960s and 1970s as bullies and thugs, and had the distinction of brutalizing stars like Cary Grant, Paul Newman and Clint Eastwood on-screen while gaining a reputation off-screen as one of the nicest actors around. By his 60s, he finally got the chance to play friendlier characters, such as lovable Captain Ed Hocken in the "Naked Gun" movies.
As a United States Army officer in World War II, he served under General George S. Patton, and later went on to portray Patton in Brass Target (1978).
Before his acting career really took off, he served as a military consultant on The Phil Silvers Show (1955).
Attended and graduated from John Tarleton Agricultural College (now Tarleton State University at Stephenville, Texas).
Attended and graduated from Chaminade High School in Mineola, New York (1943).
His daughter Betty is also an actress. He also has a son, George Harris Kennedy III.
Was considered for the role of Lex Luthor in Superman (1978), which went to Gene Hackman.
His maternal grandfather was a German immigrant. His other ancestry included Irish and English.
He was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame 6356 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on October 3, 1991.
A former United States Army career soldier, Kennedy played a series of villains in motion pictures. He attacked Cary Grant with a steel claw in Stanley Donen's Charade (1963), pursued Joan Crawford with an ax in Strait-Jacket (1964), attempted to assassinate Gregory Peck in Mirage (1965) and kicked Jeff Bridges to death in Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974).
His father was a pianist and a composer/conductor at the Proctor's Theater in Manhattan, and his mother danced with vaudeville's "Le Ballet Classique".
Following high school graduation, he enlisted in the United States Army in 1943 with the hope to become a fighter pilot in the Army Air Corps. Instead, he wound up in the infantry, served under General George S. Patton and distinguished himself in valor. He won two Bronze Stars and four rows of combat and service ribbons.
After World War II, a bizarre medical condition - his left leg was shorter than his right by three inches - left him in traction for two years.
He underwent emergency triple heart bypass surgery in 2002.
He died only nine days before his Cool Hand Luke (1967) co-star Richard Davalos.

Personal Quotes (7)

When you think of a movie, most people imagine a two hour finished, polished product. But to get to that two hour product, it can take hundreds or thousands of people many months of full time work.
Of course, I also attribute some of my hearing loss to being in the infantry in World War II. It's probably a combination of heredity and noise exposure.
My father died when I was 4 years old, so I can't really say anything about his hearing.
I have been so fortunate and I really am appreciative of the success I've had.
I had the good fortune of speaking with Orson Welles many decades ago and he said "Success is primarily luck anyway." And I have been very lucky. Of course, Orson Welles was enormously talented and brilliant - so who am I to argue with him!
[on his role as Dragline in Cool Hand Luke (1967)] The marvelous thing about that movie was that as my part progresses, I changed from a bad guy to a good guy. The moguls in Hollywood must have said, "Hey, this fellow can do something besides be a bad guy.".
[on being cast in bad guy roles on television Westerns at the start of his acting career] The big guys were on television and they needed big lumps to eat up. All I had to do was show up on the set, and I got beaten up.

Salary (1)

Demonwarp (1988) 15,000

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