Kenneth Mars

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Kenneth Mars
Kenneth Mars 1967.JPG
Mars in 1967
Born (1935-04-04)April 4, 1935
Chicago, Illinois, USA[1]
Died February 12, 2011(2011-02-12) (aged 75)
Granada Hills, Los Angeles, California
Cause of death
Pancreatic cancer
Resting place
Cremated
Other names Ken Mars
Alma mater Northwestern University[1]
Occupation Actor
Years active 1962–2008
Spouse(s) Barbara Newborn
(m.1977-2011; his death)
Children 2
Family 6 Grandchildren

Kenneth Mars (April 4, 1935 – February 12, 2011)[1] was an American television, film and voice actor.

He may be best-remembered for his roles in two Mel Brooks films: the insane Nazi playwright Franz Liebkind in 1968's The Producers, and the relentless Police Inspector Hans Wilhelm Fredrich Kemp in 1974's Young Frankenstein.[2]

Mars appeared in several seasons of Malcolm in the Middle as Otto, Francis's well-meaning but dim-witted boss. He was well known as the voice of King Triton in The Little Mermaid and its sequel, the television series and the Kingdom Hearts series. Mars also did several other animated voice over film roles such as Littlefoot's grandfather in the Land Before Time series and that of King Colbert (Prince Cornelius's father) in Thumbelina, and Professor Screweyes in We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story. He died from pancreatic cancer on February 12, 2011, aged 75.

Personal life[edit]

Mars was born in Chicago, Illinois. His father, Bernard "Sonny" Mars, was a radio and television personality.[3] Mars studied fine arts and acting at Northwestern University. After graduation he began acting in the early 1960s, then did small roles in theatre followed by TV and film.[1]

In 1977, Mars married Barbara Newborn. They had two daughters, Susannah and Rebecca, together and six grandchildren. Mars' marriage to Barbara lasted until his death in February 2011.[citation needed]

Career[edit]

Television[edit]

Mars made his acting debut in 1962 as a book publisher on the comedy series Car 54, Where Are You?. Afterwards, he appeared on such television series as Gunsmoke, Get Smart, McMillan & Wife, and The Bob Crane Show. Mars played Harry Zarakartos on the sitcom He & She. Mars was featured in a number of small roles in broadcasts such as the Misfits of Science pilot episode and the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Shadowplay".

He was cast opposite Bette Davis in Hello Mother, Goodbye!, a 1973 television pilot that was aired by NBC but never added to its schedule. From 1970 until 1974 he guest starred in five episodes of Love, American Style, playing various characters. In 1977, he became a series regular on both the Sha Na Na variety series and on Fernwood 2-Night, where he played William W.D. "Bud" Prize on the fictional comedy talk show, later appearing on America 2-Night in the same role. Before his death from pancreatic cancer on February 12 2011, Mars' final television roles were Otto, the German dude ranch owner on Fox's Malcolm in the Middle, an appearance on Disney Channel's Hannah Montana, and a reprise of his role as Grandpa Longneck in The Land Before Time television series.

Stage and film roles[edit]

Mars often played characters with exaggerated accents. He was German in The Producers and Young Frankenstein, and was the Croatian musicologist Hugh Simon in What's Up, Doc?. His first broadly accented character was that of Sir Evelyn Oakleigh in the 1962 Off-Broadway revival of the Cole Porter musical Anything Goes. He was also in the 1962 Broadway play The Affair.

Comedy albums[edit]

In 1975, ABC/Dunhill released a comedy LP produced by Earl Doud titled Henry the First featuring Mars in a number of comedy bits as Henry Kissinger, including a cover version of the Bachman–Turner Overdrive song, "Takin' Care of Business".

Voice acting roles[edit]

Mars cultivated a lengthy voice acting career, launching it by voicing several characters on Uncle Croc's Block. He voiced the roles of Ariel's father King Triton in The Little Mermaid and the villainous Professor Screweyes in We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story, as well as voicing Triton in Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II. He also voiced Littlefoot's Grandpa Longneck in The Land Before Time movie series and the spin-off television series. He played some minor roles on the popular radio show, Adventures in Odyssey. He played Sweet Williams in Fievel's American Tails, which took place after An American Tail: Fievel Goes West. He voiced characters on many animated television series, such as The Smurfs,The Biskitts, A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, Tale Spin, and Animaniacs, as well as video games, such as Fallout and Kingdom Hearts. In The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, he voiced the off-screen narrator.

Illness and death[edit]

In 2008, Mars was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer that had already spread to his adjacent organs and lymph nodes. The cancer afflicted Mars so severely that he could not voice King Triton in the third Little Mermaid film (which makes The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea the final animated franchise where he voiced King Triton) and due to his absence, Grandpa Longneck was not featured in recent The Land Before Time media, and he retired in that same year. (When The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning came out, Triton had to be voiced by Jim Cummings instead.) Three years later, on February 12, 2011, Mars succumbed to the pancreatic cancer and died at the age of 75.[1] He is survived by his wife, Barbara Mars Newborn, with whom he had been married for 34 years, his two daughters, and his six grandchildren. After a private funeral, Mars' body was cremated and only his friends or family know where his ashes are.

Filmography[edit]

Notes[edit]

External links[edit]