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George Harris Kennedy, Jr.

Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Death: February 28, 2016 (91)
Middleton, Canyon County, Idaho, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of George Harris Kennedy, Sr. and Helen Meade
Husband of Joan Theresa Kennedy
Ex-husband of Dorothy Kennedy and Revel Kennedy
Father of Private; Private; Private; Private and Private
Brother of Private

Occupation: Actor; in Naked Gun movies
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About George Kennedy

George Harris Kennedy, Jr. (born February 18, 1925) was an American actor who has appeared in more than two hundred film and television productions. He is perhaps best known for four of his roles: as the convict "Dragline" in Cool Hand Luke, for which he won an Academy Award; as airline mechanic Joe Patroni in all four of the 1970s Airport disaster films; as Captain Ed Hocken in the Naked Gun series of comedy films; and as corrupt oil tycoon Carter McKay on the original Dallas television series.

Early life

Kennedy was born in New York City, into a show business family. His father, George Harris Kennedy, a musician and orchestra leader, died when Kennedy was four years old. He was raised by his mother, Helen A. (née Kieselbach), a ballet dancer. His maternal grandfather was a German immigrant; his ancestry also includes Irish and English.

Kennedy made his stage debut at the age of two, later becoming a radio performer. Kennedy put aside show business during World War II and served in the United States Army for sixteen years, having seen combat and working in the Armed Forces radio. He was involved with the opening of the first Army Information Office, which provided technical assistance to films and television shows.


Kennedy became a technical adviser for the television series The Phil Silvers Show, where after encouragement from Silvers his acting career began with a few one-line parts. After a very brief appearance in the 1960 blockbuster Spartacus, his film career began in 1961 in The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come. He appeared in several prominent Hollywood movies, including Charade (1963); Strait-Jacket (1964); Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964); The Flight of the Phoenix (1965) and In Harm's Way (1965).

He made numerous television appearances on such programs as The Andy Griffith Show, Peter Gunn, Bonanza, McHale's Navy and Gunsmoke. Kennedy played George Spangler in the 1963 Perry Mason episode, "The Case of the Greek Goddess." He portrayed the character "Blodgett" in a 1966 episode "Return to Lawrence" of the ABC western series The Legend of Jesse James, starring Christopher Jones in the title role. Then came the role for which Kennedy won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in Cool Hand Luke (1967), that of "Dragline", a chain-gang convict who at first resents the new prisoner in camp played by Paul Newman, then comes to idolize the rebellious Luke.

Kennedy followed this role with films such as The Dirty Dozen, Bandolero! and The Boston Strangler. In 1970, he appeared in the Academy Award-winning disaster story Airport in which he played one of its key characters, airline troubleshooter Joe Patroni. He reprised this role in Airport 1975 and in two sequels. Continuing to work with some of the biggest names in the business, Kennedy co-starred with Clint Eastwood in a pair of films, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot and The Eiger Sanction and with an ensemble cast including Charlton Heston and Ava Gardner in the disaster film Earthquake. He was part of an all-star cast in the Agatha Christie mystery Death on the Nile in 1978.

In 1984, Kennedy starred opposite Bo Derek in the box-office bomb Bolero. He made other minor films including Savage Dawn, The Delta Force, and Creepshow 2 before connecting in the comedy hit The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! in 1988, playing Captain Ed Hocken opposite Leslie Nielsen's comical cop Frank Drebin. There were two sequels in which Kennedy co-starred.

On television, Kennedy starred as Carter McKay in the CBS prime time serial Dallas (1978–1991), appearing from 1988-1991. In the late 1990s, he promoted Breathasure tablets in television commercials with the quote, "I never go anywhere without my Breathasure." Around this time, he reprised his role as McKay in the television films Dallas: JR Returns and Dallas: War of the Ewings.

In 1998, he voiced Brick Bazooka for the film Small Soldiers. He then made several independent films before making a 2003 comeback to television in the soap opera The Young and the Restless, playing the character Albert Miller, the biological father to legendary character Victor Newman. In 2005, he made a cameo appearance in the small film Don't Come Knocking, playing the director of an ill-fated western.


Kennedy received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contributions to motion pictures, located at 6352 Hollywood Blvd.

Writing career

Kennedy has written three books. In 1983, he wrote the murder mystery Murder On Location, set on a film shoot. A second novel, Murder on High, was released in 1984. In 2011, he wrote his autobiography, Trust Me.

Personal life

Kennedy resides in Eagle in Ada County in southwestern Idaho. He is married to Joan McCarthy and has a daughter, Shaunna. The couple adopted their granddaughter, Taylor, after the incarceration of the child's mother.

Death Kennedy died on the morning of February 28, 2016, of natural causes at an assisted living facility in Middleton, Idaho, at the age of 91. Prior to his death he had a history of heart problems. He is survived by his daughter and his two grandchildren.

Selected filmography

Television series

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George Kennedy's Timeline

February 18, 1925
New York, New York, United States
February 28, 2016
Age 91
Middleton, Canyon County, Idaho, United States