Academy Award winning American character actor George Kennedy passed away Sunday from natural causes, he was ninety-one years old. Best known for his Academy Award winning role for Best Supporting Actor in the 1967 drama Cool Hand Luke and as Ed Hocken in The Naked Gun trilogy. Kennedy appeared in over one hundred and eighty film and television productions. His last movie role was as Ed in the 2014 film The Gambler. He is survived by his daughter and two grandchildren.
Born on February 18, 1925 in New York City, New York; George Kennedy grew up surrounded by show business, his father was a musician and mother a ballet dancer. He worked on stage and in radio as an actor before joining the U.S. Army during World War II, fought in the Battle of the Bulge and the Ardennes Campaign. After serving in the military for sixteen years rising to the rank of Captain, Kennedy retired from the service to work as a technical supervisor for the television series “The Phil Silvers Show.” When the show ended, he became a character actor appearing in small roles in television shows before catching his first big break on the silver screen in 1962’s Lonely Are the Brave.
Thanks to his large six foot four inch frame, George Kennedy made a career early on by playing thuggish menacing villains in such films as Charade and his Academy Award winning performance of chain gang convict Dragline in Cool Hand Luke. During the seventies he began to play more good guy characters and was nominated for a Golden Globe in 1971 for his role of Joe Patroni in the film Airport. Kennedy’s career took a mainstream nose dive in the late seventies through the mid-eighties when he was relegated to co-starring in b-movies like Death Ship, Just Before Dawn, Delta Force, Bolero and Savage Dawn. His career experienced a mainstream resurgence thanks to The Naked Gun trilogy and he continued to act well into his twilight years.
George Kennedy was one of the rare breed of Hollywood character actors who was always dependable when needed and always supported his fellow leads. No matter if it was a blockbuster production or a sleazy b-movie, Kennedy always delivered in the acting department and he will be surely missed. What to know more about the life and times of American character actor George Kennedy? Please visit the following sites for more information: IMDB, Wikipedia, TWS, WashingtonPost and IdahoStatesman.