Kenneth Mars, the comic actor who appeared in two of director Mel Brooks’ best comedies, has died this past Saturday of pancreatic cancer at his home in Granada Hills, Calif. He was 75.
In Brooks’ 1968 farce The Producers, Mars played the crazy German playwright Franz Liebkind, writer of what Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder hope will be the worst musical of all time Springtime For Hitler. Mars would slip into another comical, albeit thick to the point of near-incomprehensibility, German accent for Brooks in Young Frankenstein as Inspector Kemp, who sported a wooden arm and an eyepatch and a monocle on the same eye.
He also appeared in such films as What’s Up Doc? (1972, with Barbara Streisand), The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again (1979), Yellowbeard (1983) and Fletch (1985).
Mars spent a majority of his career in television where he guest starred on such series as Love American Style, Barney Miller, Cagney & Lacey and Simon & Simon and had recurring roles on the 1967 sitcom He & She and Martin Mull’s talk show parody Fernwood Tonight. He also lent his voice to a number of animated projects over the years from the original Jetsons television series to The Little Mermaid and the Land Before Time film/direct to home video/television franchise.
Born in Chicago, IL on April 14, 1936, Mars was the son of vaudeville comic Sonny Mars.