As Curtis Baker in Carter Country, 1977
|Born||Kenneth Earl Holliday
June 25, 1949
Copiague, Suffolk County, New York, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Linda Copling (1996–present)
Janifer Holliday (? – ?) (divorced) 1 child
Holliday Dolly (? – ?) (divorced; 1 child)
Kenneth Earl "Kene" Holliday (born June 25, 1949) is a prolific American character actor of stage, film, and television, best known for his role as Ben Matlock's original private investigator, Tyler Hudson, on Andy Griffith's hit television series Matlock.
Holliday, a product of Long Island's area of Copiague, Suffolk County, New York, was raised in a Christian home, born to a Baptist family. At age 12, he lost his father. With the encouragement of his mother, he participated in track, at Copiague High School, where he was part of the Fantastic Four Relay Team, and was the star of his football team. He was nicknamed as Mr. Hotshot, and was known as a "scoring machine" on the football field. He graduated in 1967, and attended University of Maryland on full scholarship. As he recalled, times were turbulent, and the football team was preparing to strike against the NCAA over a change in coaches.
He was “jazzed” by a class in the history of theater, and acting became his new passion. In 1969, as an undergraduate, he played Yank in The Hairy Ape by Eugene O'Neill. He was the first black to perform in a leading role on the state school’s main stage.
After graduation from college, his first work was with the inaugual theater group at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., where he conducted workshops as a founding member of the D.C. Black Repertory Company. In 1975, he was fired from his job because of his problem with drugs and alcohol. His dependency continued for the next 14 years. However, despite his dependency problems, he starred as Carlyle in David Rabe's Vietnam War-era play Streamers at the Lincoln Theatre.
That play led him to Los Angeles in 1976, when he guest-starred in several shows such as: Kojak, What's Happening!!, The Incredible Hulk, Quincy, M.E., Lou Grant, Soap, its spin-off series, Benson, The Jeffersons, The Fall Guy, Hart to Hart, and Doogie Howser, M.D., among many others. His first television series was Carter Country where he co-starred, with Victor French, as Sgt. Curtis Baker from 1977 until 1979. He also was featured in Roots: The Next Generations, and starred in a series of pilots that failed to make it on the air. Kene provided the voice of the character Roadblock in the 1980s cartoon series, G.I. Joe, and 1987's G.I. Joe: The Movie. In 1985, he appeared in the TV film Badge of the Assassin.
In early 1986, while providing the voice of Roadblock, he received a phone call from producers Fred Silverman and Dean Hargrove for their first choice as Matlock's original private investigator, Tyler Hudson, on Matlock, opposite comedian and TV veteran Andy Griffith. Holliday, who knew all the characters from The Andy Griffith Show, but watched the sitcom occasionally, had accepted the role, which shot him to TV stardom. For his three seasons, he had a wonderful on- and off-screen chemistry with Griffith, when Griffith was too difficult to work with himself. Also, Holliday had traveled with Griffith, almost everywhere, while filming. Early in the third season, Holliday's behavior became erratic. In addition to arriving at work late, his drug and alcohol abuse had finally caught up with him, as Holliday was sent to rehab on an outpatient basis, which made his schedule more difficult, yet missed 7 episodes altogether. Even though he was 3 months sober, he was fired from the show and replaced by Clarence Gilyard, who played a similar role until he left in 1993.
Other TV work and personal life
Holliday is reported to be 24 years sober.
He has numerous television and movie appearances to his credit, including roles in G.I. Joe: The Movie (1987), CBS’s made for television movie Miracle On The Mountain (2003), Hope & Faith (2004), and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (2005).
He published a book of poetry in 1998 entitled "The Book of K-III: The Contemporary Poetics of Kene Holliday".
Holliday became round-the-clock caregiver for his mother, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease, and subsequently became a member of the Alzheimer's Foundation of America.
While taking care of his mother, he accepted the lead role in the movie Great World of Sound, in 2007.
Awards and nominations
- Gotham Awards
- 2008, Breakthrough Performance: Great World of Sound (Nominated)
- Independent Spirit Award
- 2008, Best Supporting Male: Great World of Sound (Nominated)