George Kennedy
George Kennedy

In a career spanning five decades, veteran George Kennedy was one of the most reliable tough-guy actors around, appearing in dozens of TV shows and movies.

Kennedy was born into a New York show business family on February 18, 1925 and got the showbiz bug from an early age — he first appeared on stage at age two and later moved into radio. During World War II Kennedy enlisted in the Army as soon as he turned 18. He opted for the Army Air Corps, but as he would later reminisce, such a choice did not come without challenges: “I’m six-foot-four, and even in those days I weighed 210 pounds. I was interested in airplanes then, and I’m interested in airplanes now. The best explanation came from a master sergeant in the Air Force. He said, ‘George, there’s nothing wrong with you. But we can either put you in an airplane or we can put a 200-pound bomb in an airplane. We’d rather put the bomb in the airplane.'”

The veteran would serve the Army for 16 years, eventually attaining the rank of Captain. True to his radio roots, he became a disc jockey on Armed Forces Radio, and helped establish the Army Information Office, which provided technical service to the film and television industries. Serving during World War II was no picnic; Kennedy was under the command of General George Patton, and he would later reflect, “Kids who had never done anything more dangerous than play kickball in the street were shooting BAR’s and mortars and killing each other… The war was one horrendous surprise after another. I can’t think of anything I did during the war that did not involve death.”

For an expansion of George Kennedy’s history see

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