Kenneth Mars in 1967
April 4, 1935|
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
February 12, 2011 (aged 75)|
Granada Hills, California, U.S.
|Other names||Ken Mars|
|Alma mater||Northwestern University|
|Occupation||Actor, voice actor|
(m. 1977; d. 2011)
Kenneth Mars (April 4, 1935 – February 12, 2011) was an American actor and voice actor, who specialized in comedic roles. He had roles in two Mel Brooks films: as the Nazi playwright Franz Liebkind in The Producers (1968) and Police Inspector Hans Wilhelm Friedrich Kemp in Young Frankenstein (1974).
Mars appeared in two seasons of Malcolm in the Middle as Otto, Francis's well-meaning but dimwitted boss. He voiced King Triton, Ariel's father, in the 1989 Disney animated film The Little Mermaid and its sequel, the television series and the Kingdom Hearts series. He also did several other animated voice over film roles such as Littlefoot's grandfather in the Land Before Time series and that of Professor Screweyes in We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story (1993), and King Colbert (Prince Cornelius's father) in Thumbelina (1994).
After graduation he began acting in the early 1960s, then did small roles in theatre followed by TV and film. In 1977, he married Barbara Newborn. They had two daughters, Susannah and Rebecca, and six grandchildren. The marriage lasted until his death in 2011.
Mars made his acting debut in 1962 as a book publisher on Car 54, Where Are You?. He later appeared on such television series as Gunsmoke, Get Smart, McMillan & Wife, Columbo, and The Bob Crane Show. He also appeared in dramatic roles, such as Will Turner, a former FBI agent, in Warren Beatty's The Parallax View.
Mars played Harry Zarakartos on the Richard Benjamin-Paula Prentiss sitcom He & She. He 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 aired by NBC but never picked up as a series. From 1970-74 Mars guest starred in five episodes of Love, American Style, playing various characters.
In 1977, Mars became a series regular on both the Sha Na Na variety series and on Norman Lear's talk show parody Fernwood 2-Night in the memorable recurring role of William W.D. 'Bud' Prize, appearing the following year on America 2-Night in the same role. In 2001 Mars portrayed a comedic famous but washed-up photographer on Just Shoot Me. Before his death, his final television roles were Otto, the German dude ranch owner on Fox Broadcasting Company'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
Mars often played characters with exaggerated accents. He portrayed German characters in The Producers and Young Frankenstein, and played 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 also appeared in the 1962 Broadway play, The Affair.
In 1975, ABC/Dunhill released a comedy LP produced by Earl Doud, 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
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 voiced Littlefoot's Grandpa Longneck in the Land Before Time series of films and the spin-off television series. He played some minor roles on the popular radio show, Adventures in Odyssey. He played Sweet William 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.
Cancer diagnosis and retirement from acting
In 2008, Mars was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer which had already spread beyond his pancreas. His cancer made him so ill that he could not reprise his role as King Triton for The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning, so Jim Cummings took over the role. As well as not being able to voice Triton, he could not voice Grandpa Longneck in The Land Before Time XIII: The Wisdom of Friends (Grandpa does appear in the film, but has no lines).
Mars died from pancreatic cancer on February 12, 2011, at the age of 75.
- Act One (1963) as Robert E. Sherwood
- The Ghost & Mrs. Muir (1968-1970, TV Series) as Joshua T. Albertson / Ellsworth Gordon (2 episodes)
- He & She (1967-1968, TV Series) as Harry Zarakartos
- The Producers (1968) as Franz Liebkind
- The April Fools (1969) as Les Hopkins
- Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) as Marshal
- Viva Max! (1969) as Dr. Sam Gillison
- Desperate Characters (1971) as Otto Bentwood
- What's Up, Doc? (1972) as Hugh Simon
- Guess Who's Sleeping in My Bed? (1973, TV Series) as Mitchell Bernard
- The Parallax View (1974) as Former FBI Agent Will
- Young Frankenstein (1974) as Police Inspector Hans Wilhelm Friedrich Kemp
- The New Original Wonder Woman (pilot) (1975, TV Series) as Colonel Oberst Von Blasko (1 episode)
- Night Moves (1975) as Nick
- It's a Bird...It's a Plane...It's Superman (1975, TV Series) as Max Mencken
- Fernwood 2 Night (1977, TV Series) as William W.D. "Bud" Prize (8 episodes)
- Baa Baa Black Sheep (1977, TV Series) as Harold French
- America 2-Night (1978, TV Series) as William W.D. "Bud" Prize
- Goin' Coconuts (1978) as Kruse
- The Lord of the Rings (1978) as Additional Voices (voice)
- Heaven Only Knows (1979, TV Series)
- The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again (1979) as Marshal Woolly Bill Hitchcock
- Carol Burnett & Company (1979, TV Series)
- Hart to Hart (1980, TV Series)
- Full Moon High (1981) as Coach Cleveland / Principal Cleveland
- Yellowbeard (1983) as Mr. Crisp and Senior Verdugo
- The Biskitts (1983) as King Max
- The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries (1983) as Orson Kane
- Prince Jack (1984) as Lyndon B. Johnson
- Protocol (1984) as Lou
- Fletch (1985) as Stanton Boyd
- Beer (1985) as Adolphe Norbecker
- Misfits of Science (TV) (1985) as Sen. Donner
- The Adventures of the American Rabbit (1986) as Walt / Vultor the Buzzard (voice)
- Radio Days (1987) as Rabbi Baumel
- A Pup Named Scooby-Doo (1988-1991, TV Series) as Dogcatcher Ghost (voice)
- For Keeps? (1988) as Mr. Bobrucz
- Illegally Yours (1988) as Hal B. Keeler
- Rented Lips (1988) as Rev. Farrell
- The Smurfs (1989, TV Series) (voice)
- Get Smart, Again! (1989, TV Series) as Cmdr. Drury
- Police Academy 6: City Under Siege (1989) as The Mayor / The Mastermind
- The Little Mermaid (1989) as King Triton (voice)
- Tiny Toon Adventures (1990, TV Series) as Flavio (voice) (episode: "Hollywood Plucky")
- Tale Spin (1990-1994, TV Series) as Heimlich Menudo / Prof. Buzz (voice)
- Timeless Tales from Hallmark (1991)
- Darkwing Duck (1991, TV Series) as Tuskernini (voice)
- Shadows and Fog (1991) as Armstead the Magician
- A Different World (1992) as Homeless Man
- Fievel's American Tails (1992, TV Series) as Sweet Williams
- The Little Mermaid (1992-1994, TV Series) as King Triton (voice)
- We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story (1993) as Professor Screweyes (voice)
- Swat Kats: The Radical Squadron (1993) as Dr. Wally Gilbert Kenrousch (voice)
- Bonkers (1993, TV Series) as Gloomy (voice)
- Animaniacs (1993, TV Series) as Ludwig van Beethoven (voice)
- Batman: The Animated Series (1994, TV Series) as Richard (voice)
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1994) as Colyus
- Thumbelina (1994) as King Colbert (voice)
- The Land Before Time series (II-XIII) (1994-2008) as Grandpa (voice)
- Rough Magic (1995) as Magician
- Freakazoid! (1995, TV Series) as Dr. Gunter Hunter Hanker (voice)
- Batman: The Animated Series (1995, TV Series) as M2 (voice)
- Citizen Ruth (1996) as Dr. Charles Rollins
- Fallout (1997, Video Game) as Vault 13 Overseer (voice)
- Godzilla: The Series (1998, TV Series) as Dr. Alexander Preloran (voice)
- The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea (2000) as King Triton (voice)
- Becker (2001, TV Series) as Melvin
- Just Shoot Me (2001, TV Series) as Horace
- Malcolm in the Middle (2002-2004, TV Series) as Otto Mannkusser
- Kingdom Hearts (2002) as King Triton (voice)
- Teddy Bears' Picnic (2002) as Gene Molinari
- Kingdom Hearts II (2006, Video Game) as King Triton (voice)
- Hannah Montana (2007, TV Series) as Gunther the Innkeeper
- The Land Before Time (2007-2008, TV Series) as Grandpa Longneck (voice) (final television appearance)
- "Kenneth Mars, veteran screen and voice actor, dies at 75". Los Angeles Times. February 15, 2011. Retrieved 2011-02-23.
- "Kenneth Mars obituary". The Daily Telegraph. London, UK. February 15, 2011.
- Profile, chicagotribune.com; accessed June 27, 2015.