Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.

This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.

Arts and Entertainment

Oscar-Winner George Kennedy, Of 'Cool Hand Luke,' Dies At 91

Before you
Dear reader, we're asking you to help us keep local news available for all. Your financial support keeps our stories free to read, instead of hidden behind paywalls. We believe when reliable local reporting is widely available, the entire community benefits. Thank you for investing in your neighborhood.

Actor George Kennedy, known for roles in films like Cool Hand Luke, The Dirty Dozen, the Naked Gun series, and the TV show Gunsmoke died in his home in Boise, Idaho on Sunday. He was 91.

Kennedy's grandson Cory Schenkel told TMZ that George died in his sleep around 4:30 a.m. Sunday morning. Accoding to Schenkle, Kennedy's health had been poor since his wife Joan died last year, and had been under hospice care for the last month.

Kennedy won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 1968 for his role as Dragline in Cool Hand Luke. Here is winning the award, which was presented by Patty Duke:

Support for LAist comes from

Kennedy's role as Dragline was a departure from his previous roles in which he was more or less typecast as a villain. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Kennedy said in 1978, "The marvelous thing about that movie was that as my part progresses, I changed from a bad guy to a good guy...The moguls in Hollywood must have said, 'Hey, this fellow can do something besides be a bad guy.'"

According to CNN, Kennedy spent 16 years in the U.S. Army and served in World War II. After the war, he was an adviser to the TV show Sgt. Bilko before getting acting roles of his own. One of his early roles was as a gangster in 1963's Audrey Hepburn flick Charade.

Kennedy was also in the 1981 film Modern Romance. Director and star Albert Brooks tweeted his condolences earlier today:

As The Wrap notes, Kennedy was also an author, writing three books: two murder mysteries in the 1980s titled Murder on Location and Murder on High, and an autobiography Trust Me, published in 2011.