George Kennedy, whose film and TV roles ran the gamut from a pugilistic prisoner in Cool Hand Luke to a Dallas oil Tycoon and, of course, in the Naked Gun and Airplane movies, has died, the Associated Press reported Monday. He was 91.
Kennedy who won an Academy Award for his fist-fighting convict opposite Paul Newman in the 1967 film Cool Hand Luke, died Sunday in Boise, Idaho, where he lived since 2002, his grandson told the AP.
He was a TV character actor with a staggering number of appearances to his credit, including shows The Andy Griffith Show, Bonanza, Maverick, Gunsmoke and Perry Mason. But he was equally busy on movie sets, with roles in The Dirty Dozen (below), Airport (and its sequels), Earthquake and dozens more.
But modern audiences will best remember him for 1988 spoof The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! and its two sequels as Captain Ed Hocken, the sympatico boss of Leslie Nielsen’s bone-dry Det. Frank Drebin. He also had a three-year run on Dallas as oil tycoon Carter McKay.
Kennedy, also a writer and a pilot, was born into a New York City showbiz family and was on the radio and stage as a youngster, though he did take a 16-year break to serve in the U.S. Army, starting in World War II. His career rekindled in the mid-1960s, with films like Strait-Jacket, The Flight of the Phoenix and In Harm’s Way.
Kennedy’s death was first reported by TMZ.
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