John Arthur Kennedy
February 17, 1914
Worcester, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Died||January 5, 1990 (aged 75)|
Branford, Connecticut, U.S.
|Education||Carnegie Mellon University (BFA)|
(m. 1938; died 1975)
John Arthur Kennedy (February 17, 1914 – January 5, 1990) was an American stage and film actor known for his versatility in supporting film roles and his ability to create "an exceptional honesty and naturalness on stage", especially in the original casts of Arthur Miller plays on Broadway. He won the 1949 Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play for Miller's Death of a Salesman. He also won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor for the 1955 film Trial, and was a five-time Academy Award nominee.
Early life and education
Kennedy was born on February 17, 1914, in Worcester, Massachusetts, the son of Helen (née Thompson) and John Timothy "J.T." Kennedy, a dentist. He attended South High School, Worcester, and graduated from Worcester Academy. He studied drama at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, graduating with a B.A. in 1934.
Kennedy moved to New York City and, billed as John Kennedy, joined the Group Theatre. He then toured with a classical repertory company. In September 1937, he made his Broadway debut as Bushy in Maurice Evans' Richard II at the St. James Theatre. In 1939 he played Sir Richard Vernon in Evans' Henry IV, Part 1.
Kennedy made his entry into films when he was discovered by James Cagney. His first film role was of Cagney's younger brother in City for Conquest in 1940. He appeared in many Western films and police dramas.
During World War II, Kennedy served from 1943 to 1945 in the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) making aviation training films, both as a narrator and an actor. Many of those films serve as historical records of how aviators were trained and flight equipment was operated.
Kennedy appeared in many notable films from the early 1940s through mid-1960s, including High Sierra, Champion, They Died with Their Boots On, The Glass Menagerie, The Desperate Hours, Trial, Peyton Place, Some Came Running, A Summer Place, Elmer Gantry, The Man from Laramie, Barabbas, Lawrence of Arabia, Nevada Smith and Fantastic Voyage.
Of Kennedy's film work, he is perhaps best-remembered for his collaborations with director Anthony Mann and co-star James Stewart on Bend of the River (1952) and The Man from Laramie (1955), in both of which he played sympathetic villains. Kennedy also enjoyed film success in England during the 1950s, usually playing the lead role in b-movies whenever an American character was needed. He played mostly laid-back ladies' men, avuncular husband types or down-on-their—luck con men chancing it in the UK.
He also enjoyed a distinguished stage career over the same period, receiving a Tony Award for his role of Biff Loman in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman (1949). He inaugurated three other major characters in Miller plays: Chris Keller in All My Sons (1947), John Proctor in The Crucible (1953) and Walter Franz in The Price (1968). In 1961 he played the title role in Becket, opposite Laurence Olivier as Henry II.
On February 5, 1959, Kennedy appeared on the episode "Make It Look Good" of CBS's Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theatre.
In 1974, Kennedy was a regular on the short-lived ABC police drama Nakia, as Sheriff Sam Jericho.
Waning interest, ill-health, then comeback
With the death of his wife in 1975, failing eyesight, alcoholism, and thyroid cancer, Kennedy was reported as having lost interest in filmmaking. After Covert Action (1978), his next films were The Humanoid (1979) and Signs of Life (1989).
Awards and honors
In 1949, Kennedy won a Tony Award for best supporting actor as Biff in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman at the Morosco Theatre.
The New York Film Critics named him Best Actor for Bright Victory (1951).
His performance in Trial won him a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor.
His portrayal of the newspaper reporter in Elmer Gantry (1960) gained him a Film Daily Award and a Limelight Award.
Kennedy received a nomination for Best Actor for his performance in Bright Victory (1951).
Kennedy married Mary Cheffey in March 1938. They had two children: actress Laurie Kennedy and Terence.
During the last years of his life, Kennedy had thyroid cancer and eye disease. He spent much of his later life in Savannah, Georgia, out of the public eye.
- City for Conquest (1940) as Eddie Kenny
- High Sierra (1941) as 'Red'
- Knockout (1941) as Johnny Rocket
- Strange Alibi (1941) as Joe Geary
- Bad Men of Missouri (1941) as Jim Younger
- Highway West (1941) as George Foster
- They Died with Their Boots On (1941) as Ned Sharp
- Desperate Journey (1942) as Flying Officer Jed Forrest
- Air Force (1943) as Bombardier
- Reconnaissance Pilot (1943, documentary short) as Decoration Announcer (voice, uncredited)
- Resisting Enemy Interrogation (1944) as Sgt. Alfred Mason (uncredited)
- Ditch and Live (1944, Short) as Captain Scott H. Reynolds (uncredited)
- Time to Kill (1945, Short) as Narrator (uncredited)
- Target - Invisible (1945, documentary short) as Narrator (uncredited)
- Devotion (1946) as Branwell Brontë
- It's Your America (1946, Short) as Soldier (uncredited)
- Boomerang (1947) as John Waldron
- Cheyenne (1947) as Chalk
- The Walking Hills (1949) as Chalk
- Champion (1949) as Connie
- The Window (1949) as Ed Woodry
- Too Late for Tears (1949) as Alan Palmer
- Chicago Deadline (1949) as Tommy Ditman
- The Glass Menagerie (1950) as Tom Wingfield
- Bright Victory (1951) as Larry Nevins
- Red Mountain (1951) as Lane Waldron
- Bend of the River (1952) as Emerson Cole
- Rancho Notorious (1952) as Vern Haskell
- The Girl in White (1952) as Dr. Ben Barringer
- The Lusty Men (1952) as Wes Merritt
- Impulse (1954) as Alan Curtis
- Crashout (1955) as Joe Quinn
- The Man From Laramie (1955) as Vic Hansbro
- The Desperate Hours (1955) as Deputy Sheriff Jesse Bard
- Trial (1955) as Barney
- The Naked Dawn (1955) as Santiago
- The Rawhide Years (1956) as Rick Harper
- Peyton Place (1957) as Lucas Cross
- Twilight for the Gods (1958) as First Mate Ramsay
- Some Came Running (1958) as Frank Hirsh
- The Ten Commandments (1959, TV Movie)
- Home Is the Hero (1959) as Willie O'Reilly
- A Summer Place (1959) as Bart Hunter
- Elmer Gantry (1960) as Jim Lefferts
- Claudelle Inglish (1961) as Clyde Inglish
- Murder, She Said (1961) as Dr. Quimper
- Barabbas (1961) as Pontius Pilate
- Hemingway's Adventures of a Young Man (1962) as Dr. Adams
- Lawrence of Arabia (1962) as Jackson Bentley
- Attack and Retreat (1964) as Ferro Maria Ferri
- Cheyenne Autumn (1964) as Doc Holliday
- Murieta (1965) as Capt. Love
- Joy in the Morning (1965) as Patrick Brown
- Nevada Smith (1966) as Bill Bowdre
- Fantastic Voyage (1966) as Dr. Duval
- Monday's Child (1967) as Peter Richardson
- Day of the Evil Gun (1968) as Owen Forbes
- A Minute to Pray, a Second to Die (1968) as Tuscosa Marshal Roy W. Colby
- Anzio (1968) as Maj. Gen. Jack Lesley
- Hail, Hero! (1969) as Albert Dixon
- Shark! (1969) as Doc
- The Movie Murderer (1970, TV Movie) as Angus MacGregor
- My Old Man's Place (1971) as Walter Pell
- A Death of Innocence (1971, TV Movie) as Mark Hirsch
- Crawlspace (1972, TV Movie) as Albert Graves
- I Kiss the Hand (1973) as Don Angelino Ferrante
- Ricco the Mean Machine (1973) as Don Vito
- The President's Plane Is Missing (1973, TV Movie) as Gunther Damon
- The Man from Independence (1974) as Tom Pendergast
- Let Sleeping Corpses Lie (1974) as The Inspector
- The Antichrist (1974) as Bishop Ascanio Oderisi
- Killer Cop (1975) as Armando Di Federico
- The Tough Ones (1976) as Ruini
- As of Tomorrow (1976) as Mike Jannacone
- La spiaggia del desiderio (1976) as Antonio
- The Sentinel (1977) as Monsignor Franchino
- Nine Guests for a Crime (1977) as Uberto
- Gli ultimi angeli (1978) as Il nonno
- Bermuda: Cave of the Sharks (1978) as Mr. Jackson
- Cyclone (1978) as The Priest
- Porco mondo (1978) as Senator Merelli
- Covert Action (1978) as CIA Chief of Station, Athens
- The Humanoid (1979) as Dr. Kraspin
- Signs of Life (1989) as Owen Coughlin
- I figli del vento (1989, TV Movie)
- Grandpa (1990) (final film role)
- ^ James C. McKinley Jr., "Arthur Kennedy, Actor, 75, Dies; Was Versatile in Supporting Roles", The New York Times, 7 Jan 1990, p 30, via ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2007) accessed 13 November 2011.
- ^ a b c d e f g Melissa Vickery-Bareford, "Kennedy, John Arthur", American National Biography Online, (Feb. 2000), accessed 13 Nov 13 2011.
- ^ Glenn Collins, "Arthur Kennedy: Comeback for a Curmudgeon", The New York Times, 30 Apr 1989, p H24, via ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2007) accessed 13 November 2011.
- ^ "Arthur Kennedy Biography (1914-1990)". Film Reference, Theatre, Film, and Television Biographies. Advameg, Inc. Retrieved November 13, 2011.
- ^ Macksoud, Meredith C.; Smith, Craig R.; Lohrke, Jackie (November 25, 2002). Arthur Kennedy, Man of Characters: A Stage and Cinema Biography. McFarland. p. 142. ISBN 9780786413843 – via Internet Archive.
- Arthur Kennedy at the Internet Broadway Database
- Arthur Kennedy at IMDb
- Arthur Kennedy at Turner Classic Movies
- Arthur Kennedy at Find a Grave
- Photographs of Arthur Kennedy tombstone, Nova Scotia.
- Literature on Arthur Kennedy
- 1914 births
- 1990 deaths
- American male film actors
- American male stage actors
- Best Supporting Actor Golden Globe (film) winners
- Deaths from cancer in Connecticut
- Deaths from brain cancer in the United States
- Donaldson Award winners
- Male actors from Worcester, Massachusetts
- Worcester Academy alumni
- Tony Award winners
- Male Western (genre) film actors
- United States Army Air Forces soldiers
- First Motion Picture Unit personnel
- 20th-century American male actors
- Carnegie Mellon University College of Fine Arts alumni