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Holliday as Curtis Baker in Carter Country in 1977
|Born||Kenneth Earl Holliday
June 25, 1949
Copiague, Suffolk County, New York, U.S.
Kenneth Earl "Kene" Holliday (born June 25, 1949) is an American actor of stage, film, and television. He is known for his role as Ben Matlock's original private investigator, Tyler Hudson on Andy Griffith's hit television series Matlock and as Sgt. Curtis Baker on Carter Country from 1977 until 1979.
Holliday, a product of the Copiague area of Long Island, New York was raised in a Christian home, born into 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 a full scholarship. As he recalled, times were turbulent and the football team was preparing to go on strike against the NCAA over a change in coaches.
He was "jazzed" by a class he took related to 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 person to perform in a leading role on the college's "main stage."
After graduation from college his first work was with the Inaugural Theater Group at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. There, 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 continued problems with drugs and alcohol. His chemical abuse continued for the next 14 years. However, despite those problems he starred in the role of Carlyle in David Rabe's Vietnam War-era play Streamers at the Lincoln Theatre.
That play led him to Los Angeles in 1976 where he guest-starred on 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. He guest starred on many other shows, also. His first "featuring" 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 which failed to make it to the air as regular series. 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. He was their first choice to play Matlock's private investigator Tyler Hudson on the Matlock series. He would play opposite TV veteran Andy Griffith who was Matlock. Holliday, who knew all the characters from The Andy Griffith Show, but only had watched the sitcom occasionally accepted the role which shot him to TV stardom. For those three seasons he was a regular, Kene maintained a wonderful on and off screen chemistry and relationship with Griffith. That chemistry continued even when Griffith was too temperamental to work with even himself. Also, Holliday had traveled with Griffith almost everywhere while filming the Matlock series. Early in season three, Holliday's behavior had become erratic. In addition to arriving to work late, his chemical use became apparent and had finally caught up with him. Holliday was eventually forced into rehab on an outpatient basis. Going in to treatment made his schedule even more difficult and led to his missing seven episodes altogether. Even though Holliday had maintained three months sobriety, he was fired from the series and was replaced by Clarence Gilyard.
Other TV work and personal life
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Holliday is reported to be 28 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 a traveling evangelist, and he and his wife spent the next decade preaching in gospel musicals.
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.
- 1976: Kojak – Episode: "A Shield For Murder" (parts 1 and 2) as Assistant D.A. Dunn
- 1978: Incredible Hulk – Episode: "Earthquakes Happen" as Paul
- 1979: Quincy M.E. – Episode: "Never a Child" as Father Tony Hamilton
- 1982: Hart To Hart – Episode: "Hart and Sole" as William Dean
- 1984–86: G.i. Joe A Real American Hero Episode: "Roadblock"
- 1986: Diary Of A Perfect Murder as Tyler Hudson (TV movie)
- 1986–90: Matlock – seasons 1–3 as Tyler Hudson
- 1990: Perry Mason: Case of the Silenced Singer as Joe Dillon
- 1987: G.i. Joe: The Movie – Episode: "Roadblock"
- 1992: Jake and The Fatman – Episode: "Ain't Misbehavin'" as Montgomery Dubois
- 1996: Diagnosis Murder – Episode: "FMurder" as Burke's Producer
- Gotham Awards
- 2008: Breakthrough Performance: Great World of Sound (Nominated)
- Independent Spirit Award
- 2008: Best Supporting Male: Great World of Sound (Nominated)