Actor George Kennedy passed away the morning of February 28th in Middleton, Idaho; he was 91-years-old and sources say he died of lung cancer.
George who is best remembered for portraying “Dragline” opposite Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke, –had a a history of heart problems.
Born February 18, 1925 into a show business family, George Kennedy made his stage debut at the age of two in a touring company of Bringing up Father. By the time he was seven, he was spinning records on a New York radio station. Kennedy’ showbusiness inclinations were put aside when he developed a taste for the rigors of military life during World War II, and he wound up spending 16 years in the army. His military career ended and his acting career began when a back injury in the late 1950s inspired him to seek out another line of work.
He won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Dragline and was also nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture.
The versatile actor performed in a considerable list of memorable pictures ranging from “Cool Hand Luke” (1967) and “The Dirty Dozen” (1967) to the campy “Airport” pictures and the “Naked Gun” franchise.
A near two-decade stint in the military preceded his acting pursuits, where he logged numerous appearances as heavies and rough-hewn types in pictures like “Charade” (1963) and “The Sons of Katie Elder” (1964).
Kennedy’s career went into decline in the mid-1970s, though there were occasional flashes of offbeat brilliance; most notably the slapstick “Naked Gun” series. Kennedy’s long and impressive body of work surpassed any career dips, and he remained one of Hollywood’s most dependable and well-regarded talents.
Kennedy was married four times. But twice to the same woman.
1. Dorothy Gillooly
He married his first wife, Dorothy Gillooly in the 1940s. According to an obituary Dorothy Gillooly died in 2012 at age 86. She is survived by a son, Kevin.
2. Norma Wurman
He was then married and divorced twice from Norma Wurman, also known as Revel Wurman, with whom he had two children. The first time they wedded was in 1959, they would divorced in 1971 and remarried in 1973. They divorced a second and final time in 1978.
3. Joan McCarthy
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In 1978 he married Joan McCarthy. The couple adopted four children. Joan McCarthy passed away on September 14, 2015.
Christopher Kennedy and Karianne Kennedy are George Kennedy’s children from his second marriage to, Revel Wurman.
He and wife number three, Joan McCarthy adopted four children, including daughter Shaunna Kennedy –who battled drug addiction. They also adopted their granddaughter Taylor in 1998, after their daughter (Shaunna) was ruled unfit. He also has a daughter, Betty Kennedy -who followed into his father’s footsteps in acting.
George Kennedy is also survived by grandson Cory Schenkel, who posted on Facebook, following the death of George:
The last year and a half has been quite the challenge. I have had many ups and downs. I am not looking for pity; this is for family and close friends that knew my grandparents.
For 14 years I took care of my grandparents. I have travelled on many business trips and movie shoots with my grandpa. I have gone grocery shopping and cooking with my grandma so much I now feel like it’s a routine of mine.
I have created so many great memories and I will enjoy them for life. While I am extremely sad that they are both gone (my grandma in September 14 and my grandpa this morning) I am grateful for the life, memories, and knowledge they shared with me.
They both lived amazing lives and I know they are resting in peace. If you have any stories you’d like to share feel free to inbox or share them in a comment.