5 Kennedy Classics

Remembering 2016 No 4

All Roads to Dallas: Reminiscing about George Kennedy

 

 

It was sad to hear that, George Kennedy, a great Hollywood star of both the big and wee screen had passed away.

 

It was sad to hear that, George Kennedy passed away on the day of this year’s Oscar Ceremony.  Here are 5 of the appearances I best remember him for. Kennedy as a versatile actor and performer starring in dramatic, western, horror and comedy as well as his later role in the soap opera. He also starred in many disaster movies.

1. Earthquake (1974)

Earthquake Official Trailer #1 – Charlton Heston Movie (1974) HD, Movieclips Trailer Vault,  http://www.youtube.com

 

This disaster movie from the 1970s, centers round a Los Angeles earthquake and its aftermath. Kennedy played a role as a suspended policeman, Lou Slade, alongside another future Dallas (1978-91) star, Victoria Principal who played Pamela Barnes Ewing in the series.  Kennedy won the part for this film, up against other names such as Alan Alda and Beau Bridges. This particular all-star cast also included Ava Gardner, Lorne Greene, Geneviève Bujold and Richard Roundtree. Much of Kennedy’s role is centred round rescuing others – particularly Principal’s character Rosa as his perpetual damsel in distress – alongside alpha male heavyweight Charlton Heston. Kennedy literally gets the last word in the movie, something I would remember him for in a future role…

2. Death on the Nile (1978)

Death On The Nile Trailer 1978, Video Detective, http://www.youtube.com

 

An Agatha Christie written film, usually shown on Christmas Day back in the UK, as often as the Snowman but much more interesting. Sadly missed, over here especially as it has one of the better Hercule Poirots, Peter Ustinov and a fantasti cast. This is one of a number of all-star whodunnits – written by Christie – with David Niven, Mia Farrow and Simon MacCorkindale to name just a few of the cast. Here Kennedy played Andrew Pennington, a suspect in the murder of rich millionairess Linnet Ridgeway. Linnet was played by another future Dallas star and the following year – 1979s –Moonraker‘s Bond girl, Lois Chiles. (Chiles playing two Hollys, Holly Harwood in the former and Dr.Holly Goodhead in the latter.) Kennedy plays Linnet’s lawyer who like every other character – apart from Poirot (that we know of) – has a grudge against her… 

3. Airport Disaster Movies Series (1970-79)

Airport 1975 Official Trailer #1 – Charlton Heston Movie (1974) HD, Movieclips Trailer Vaul,t http://www.youtube.com

Kennedy was the only actor to star in all 4 of these movies, as Joe Patroni. Joe Patroni’s character is multi talented from his initial job being the chief mechanic in Airport (1970) to becoming a pilot, just 9 years later in The Concorde … Airport ’79 (1979). The other films being Airport 1975 (1974) and Airport ’77 (1977). The first film got a surprising 10 Oscar nominations. You could almost play a 1970s game of Six Degrees of George Kennedy as he starred with many other Hollywood Greats including Burt Lancaster, Charlton Heston, Jacqueline Bisset, Jack Lemmon and Gil Gerard. And George’s link to a Dallas star, Airport 1975 also starred Martha Scott who later was to play J.R. Ewing’s ambitious mother-in-law as Sue Ellen’s mother.

4. The Naked Gun Trilogy (1988-94)

Naked Gun Trailer 1988, retrowhiztv, http://www.youtube.com

This time its former Priscilla Presley – as Bobby’s old flame, Jenna Wade – starring with Kennedy alongside Leslie Nielsen. Kennedy showed a flair for comedy in these crime comedies from the 1980s. Kennedy played Capt. Ed Hocken, Detective Frank Drebin’s boss. Imdb stated that the production company had stated they wanted an Oscar winner in the cast for the first film, Naked Gun, From the Files of Police Squad (1988). Kennedy was given the role, having won Best Supporting Actor for his role in Cool Hand Luke (1967). Kennedy was keen to get the role and I’m glad the did, as he and Nielsen provide many a laugh.

5. Dallas (1978-91)

Dallas War of the Ewings Promo, Geret Coates, http://www.youtube.com

 

It would be wrong for me not to mention Kennedy’s role as rancher turned oilman, Carter McKay in Dallas. Kennedy joined the Dallas cast in 1988 and stayed until the original series folded in 1991.  He even returned for the reunion movies, J.R. Returns (1996) and War of the Ewings (1998). In the original Dallas series, his character buys a ranch on the Ewing’s Southfork property making enemies with the Ewings by building a dam on the river that goes through there during a drought. He then fronts a range war with the Ewing family. Later he becomes Head of Weststar and from this position takes a lead role in the final downfall of J.R. Ewing until… I remember Kennedy’s role well, but as a Dallas fan, I held him personally responsible for the end of the series and of J.R.

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