Monday, February 29, 2016

George Kennedy

I had the good fortune of speaking with Orson Wells many decades ago and he said 'Success is primarily luck anyway.' And I have been very lucky. Of course, Orson Wells was enormously talented and brilliant - so who am I to argue with him! - George Kennedy
George Harris Kennedy, Jr.February 18, 1925 – February 28, 2016
George 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. Kennedy was born on February 18, 1925 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 included Irish and English.
Kennedy made his stage debut at age 2 in a touring company of Bringing Up Father, and by 7 was a New York City radio DJ. Joining the U.S. military during World War II, he spent 16 years in that career until the late 1950s, when a back injury prompted him to find other work. His first notable screen role was a military advisor on the TV sitcom The Phil Silvers Show, where he served as a technical adviser until star Phil Silvers encouraged Kennedy's acting career.
After a brief appearance in the 1960 film Spartacus, his film career began in 1961 in The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come. He appeared in several 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 shows as The Asphalt JungleThe Andy Griffith ShowPeter GunnBonanzaMaverickMcHale's NavyGunsmoke and Route 66. 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 theABC western series The Legend of Jesse James. Then came the role for which he won anAcademy 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 DozenBandolero! and The Boston Strangler. In 1970, he appeared in the Academy Award-winning disaster film Airport, in which he played one of its main characters, airline troubleshooter Joe Patroni. He reprised this role inAirport 1975Airport '77 and The Concorde ... Airport '79.
The Airport franchise helped inspire the Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker satire Airplane!, in which the filmmakers hoped to cast Mr. Kennedy as the bumbling plane dispatcher. The role went to Lloyd Bridges because Mr. Kennedy “couldn’t kill off his ‘Airport’ cash-cow,” Jerry Zucker said in 2010.[5]
Kennedy co-starred with Clint Eastwood in a pair of films, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot and The Eiger Sanction, and with ensemble casts in the disaster film Earthquake and the Agatha Christie mystery Death on the Nile.

On television, 
George Kennedy starred as The Blue Knight is a CBS crime TV series, running in 1975 and 1976. Kennedy played Officer Bumper Morgan. The show was based on the best selling novel by author Joseph Wambaugh (The Blue Knight) and produced by Lorimar Productions. It was also inspired by the 1973 TV film The Blue Knight, starring William Holden, which ran before the TV show premiered. 
Kennedy also 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 intelevision 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 the late 1970s Kennedy also appeared as a celebrity guest on the television game show Match Game.In 1984, Kennedy starred opposite Bo Derek in the box-office bomb Bolero. He made other minor films including Savage DawnThe Delta Force, and Creepshow 2 before playing a role in the comedy film 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.
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 film Don't Come Knocking, playing the director of an ill-fated western.

Good Night Mr. Kennedy

Stay Tuned 

Tony Figueroa

This Week in Television History: March 2016 PART I

Listen to me on TV CONFIDENTIAL:



As always, the further we go back in Hollywood history, the more that fact and legend become intertwined. It's hard to say where the truth really lies.

February 29, 1996
A television summit was held between U.S. President Clinton and broadcast industry representatives. 
At the meeting, the American television, cable and production community announced that it would establish and implement a voluntary rating system by January 1, 1997.

March 3, 1986
The pilot episode of Matlock aired on NBC.
The show centers on widower Benjamin Leighton "Ben" Matlock, a renowned, folksy and popular though cantankerous attorney. Usually, at the end of the case, the person who is on the stand being questioned by Matlock is the actual perpetrator, and Matlock will expose him, despite making clear that his one goal is to prove reasonable doubt in the case of his client's guilt or to prove his client's innocence.
Matlock studied law at Harvard, and after several years as a public defender, established his law practice inAtlanta, living in a modest farmhouse in a neighboring suburb. He is known to visit crime scenes to discover clues otherwise overlooked and come up with viable, alternative theories of the crime in question (usually murder). Matlock also has conspicuously finicky fashion sense; he generally appears in court wearing a trademark light gray suit and, over the series' entire run, owned three generations of the Ford Crown Victoria—always an all-gray model (Griffith's character had always driven Ford products in his 1960s series, The Andy Griffith Show). Some Mayberry alumni—Don KnottsAneta CorsautBetty LynnJack Dodson and Arlene Golonka—made guest appearances on Matlock.
Matlock is noted for his thrift and a fondness for hot dogs. After the series ended, his penchant for hot dogs was explained in the 1997 episode "Murder Two" of Joyce Burditt's Diagnosis: Murder. Matlock blames Dr. Mark Sloan (Dick Van Dyke) for recommending a disastrous investment in 8-track cartridges, in which he lost his savings of $5,000 in 1969, forcing him into wearing cheap suits and living on hot dogs. Despite his thrift, Matlock's standard fee is $100,000, usually paid up front, but if he or his staff believe strongly enough in the innocence of a client, or if the client is unable to pay immediately (if at all), he will have them pay over time, or will reduce the fee significantly or waive it entirely, albeit reluctantly in some cases. He will also, reluctantly, take a pro bono case occasionally, and at least on one occasion, he has worked as the prosecuting attorney in a trial.
These traits, and the demands he placed upon his investigators, were often points of comic relief in the series. Andy Griffith's prior career as a comic often showed through in things Matlock did or said.
Matlock generally defended his clients in the Fulton County Courthouse, which was actually the Second Church of Christ, Scientist located at 948 West Adams Boulevard in Los Angeles.

March 4, 1996
Minnie Pearl dies. 

A longtime fixture of Nashville's Grand Ole Opry, comedian Minnie Pearl dies on this day. Pearl was famous for her comic monologues about hillbilly life, and was featured on the long-running syndicated show Hee Haw from 1970 to 1990.

To quote the Bicentennial Minute, "And that's the way it was".


Stay Tuned


Tony Figueroa