George Harris Kennedy, Jr. (February 18, 1925 – February 28, 2016) was an American actor who appeared in more than two hundred film and television productions.
He is best known for portraying “Dragline” opposite Paul Newman in the classic prison drama Cool Hand Luke (1967), in disaster movie Airport, and its three sequels, and as Leslie Nielsen’s increasingly bewildered cop buddy in The Naked Gun comedies.
However, most people are probably unaware that George Kennedy also made numerous appearances on horror and sci-fi movies over the years, to the extent that he became a largely unacknowledged genre stalwart.
His first horror roles came were in 1964, in supporting roles in the Joan Crawford psycho-vehicle Strait-Jacket and Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte. He appeared in Boris Karloff’s Thriller TV series was a non-plussed detective in The Boston Strangler (1968) before a long stint in mainstream 70s movies, such as the aforementioned Airport movies.
By the 1980s, horror was big business, and so George was duly cast in the terror-at-sea Death Ship (1980), Just Before Dawn (1981), Creepshow 2 (in the segment “Old Chief Wood’nhead”, 1987), Demonwarp (1987), the hilarious mutant cat movie Uninvited (1988), and The Terror Within (1989). Brain Dead (1990) rounded off a decade’s genre work.
A brief role in Monster Makers (2003) and a cameo in horror short, alongside genre veterans Ken Foree (Dawn of the Dead; From Beyond) and Brad Dourif in The Devil’s Due at Midnight (2004) were George’s final genre contributions.
Adrian J Smith, Horrorpedia