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George Kennedy, Oscar-Winning Actor Often Cast as a Bad Guy, Dies at 91

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By    |   Tuesday, 01 Mar 2016 08:17 AM

George Kennedy, the Oscar-winning actor best known for his roles in "Cool Hand Luke," "The Dirty Dozen," and "Earthquake," died Sunday at an assisted living facility in Middleton, Idaho. He was 91.

The actor's grandson Cory Schenkel told the Idaho Statesman that Kennedy had been in hospice care for the past month and died of natural causes. Canyon County coroner Vicki DeGeus-Morris confirmed to the newspaper that Kennedy had a "history of heart problems."

Kennedy won the 1968 best supporting actor Academy Award for his role opposite Paul Newman in "Cool Hand Luke."

"He never really tried to be famous, like you would think," Schenkel told the Statesman. "He was just a man who loved his family and his fans. He would never turn a fan away . . . I didn't get how big he was until I went with him to London. People stood in line for three hours to meet him. That's when it really hit me. He was a lot more famous than he let on. He definitely made a huge impact on a lot of lives."

Kennedy was known for such dramas as "The Dirty Dozen," and disaster movies such as "Airport" and "Earthquake," according to The Wrap. He also showed his flair for comedy in the "Naked Gun" movie series. On television, he played competing rancher Carter McKay in the CBS drama "Dallas" for three seasons.

The Hollywood Reporter said that Kennedy suffered from a rare medical condition that resulted in his left leg measuring three inches shorter than the right, leaving him in traction for two years after World War II. He moved to Hollywood and, because of his 6-foot-4 height, was often cast to play bad guys in television series like "Gunsmoke," "Cheyenne," and "The Rifleman."

"The big guys were on TV and they needed big lumps to eat up," Kennedy said in a 1971 interview, according to The Hollywood Reporter. "All I had to do was show up on the set, and I got beaten up."

He did the same against Newman in "Cool Hand Luke."

"The marvelous thing about that movie was that as my part progresses, I changed from a bad guy to a good guy," Kennedy said in a previous interview. "The moguls in Hollywood must have said, 'Hey, this fellow can do something besides be a bad guy.'"

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George Kennedy, the Oscar-winning actor best known for his roles in "Cool Hand Luke," "The Dirty Dozen," and "Earthquake," died Sunday at an assisted living facility in Middleton, Idaho. He was 91.
george kennedy, dies, actor, oscar, winner
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2016-17-01
Tuesday, 01 Mar 2016 08:17 AM
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