George Kennedy is what might be called a generational actor. One generation might remember him for his guest appearances on the TV shows of the late 1950s/early 1960s. Another might remember him for his Oscar winning role in 1967s Cool Hand Luke and the disaster films of 1970s. The next generation might remember him from his supporting role in the Naked Gun series of films and on the Dallas TV show. The talented character actor whose career spanned over 50 years has passed away of natural causes. He was 91.
Kennedy entered the acting business in his thirties, after a consulting job on The Phil Silvers Show led to a recurring role on the series. Kennedy then made a number of guest appearance in TV shows such as Gunsmoke and The Virginian and films such as Charade, Hush…Hush Sweet Charlotte, and The Sons of Katie Elder.
Kennedy won the Best Supporting Actor award for his role as Dragline, a prison rival who becomes a friend to Paul Newman’s titular Cool Hand Luke. Kennedy parlayed his Oscar win into a number of high-profile film roles, including Airport, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, Airport 1975, Earthquake, Airport ’77 and The Concorde…Airport ’79.
In 1988, Kennedy replaced Alan North as Ed Hocken when the TV series Police Squad made the leap to the big screen as The Naked Gun. Kennedy would reprise the role in the two following sequels.
Kennedy made his last film performance in 2014’s The Gambler.