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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.
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 (1973). He remained busy in Hollywood and lent his distinctive voice to the animated (1997) and the children’s action film (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 (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.
Norma Jean Wurman
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
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 (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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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 (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.