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Monday, February 29, 2016

George Kennedy, ‘Cool Hand Luke, Airport’ Actor, Dies at 91

George Kennedy, ‘Cool Hand Luke’ Actor, Dies at 91
George Kennedy, ‘Cool Hand Luke’ Actor, Dies at 91 (Report)
George Kennedy, who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in “Cool Hand Luke,” died Sunday in Boise, Idaho. He was 91.

Kennedy’s grandson Cory Schenkel told TMZ that Kennedy had been in failing health since the death of his wife Joan about a year ago, and had been in hospice care for a month.

Kennedy’s film credits also included “The Dirty Dozen,” the “Airport” movies, “The Naked Gun” and the disaster film “Earthquake,” among many others.

Kennedy also starred as Carter McKay in tne CBS drama “Dallas.”

The following is from The Chicago Tribune:
Rod Steiger, best actor; Estelle Parsons, best supporting actress; George Kennedy, best supporting actor, and George Cukor, who accepted for Katherine Hepburn, best actress on April 10, 1968 in Santa Monica. (AP)
Rod Steiger, best actor; Estelle Parsons, best supporting actress; George Kennedy, best supporting actor, and George Cukor, who accepted for Katherine Hepburn, best actress on April 10, 1968 in Santa Monica. (AP)
While Kennedy largely played gruff, blue-collar characters in dramas and genre films, he allowed a comedic side to emerge in the deadpan "The Naked Gun" movies.

Kennedy appeared in all four of the "Airport" movies of the 1970s as Joe Patroni, the reluctant, cigar-chomping but highly effective chief mechanic who could be counted upon when the chips were down and supreme expertise was required. He also turned in a powerful performance in 1975's "Earthquake" as the hearty, sentimental police sergeant Slade, who helps where he can in the wake of the devastating temblor.

Kennedy toiled in the TV trenches for much of the 1960s, especially guesting on Westerns -- and occasionally appearing in supporting roles in high-profile films such as "In Harm's Way," "The Sons of Katie Elder," "The Flight of the Phoenix" and "The Dirty Dozen."

He finally burst into the public consciousness with his 1967 role as Dragline in "Cool Hand Luke," in which he was second-billed and held his own alongside star Paul Newman. The New York Times said: "George Kennedy is powerfully obsessive as the top-dog who handles things his way as effectively and finally as destructively as does the warden or the guards."

During the 1970s he made two attempts at starring in his own television series: 1971's brief "Sarge," in which he played a priest with a police background, and 1975's "The Blue Knight," an adaptation of the Joseph Wambaugh novel and subsequent TV movie in which he played a Los Angeles beat cop.

Other notable film credits during the 1970s included Michael Cimino's "Thunderbolt and Lightfoot"; "The Eiger Sanction"; and Agatha Christie period mystery "Death on the Nile," in which he was gruff as always but in this case exceptionally well groomed. He worked steadily in the 1980s but made an impression only in the 1988 deadpan police comedy "The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!" and its sequels.

He recurred on primetime soap "Dallas" as rancher Carter McKay from 1988-91 and appeared in the reunion telepics "Dallas: J.R. Returns" (1996) and "Dallas: War of the Ewings" (1998).

Most recently he appeared in the 2014 crime drama remake "The Gambler," starring Mark Wahlberg.

Kennedy was born in New York City to parents in show business. He first appeared onstage at the age of two, but later he would spend 16 years in the U.S. Army, ultimately working for Armed Forces Radio. He participated in the opening of the Army Information Office, which provided technical advice to the entertainment industry. A role as technical adviser to "The Phil Silvers Show" led to his early career in television.

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