Leon Isaac Kennedy

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Leon Isaac Kennedy
Born (1948-06-01) June 1, 1948 (age 71)[citation needed]
or (1949-01-01) January 1, 1949 (age 71)[1][2][3]
(sources differ)
  • Actor
  • film producer
  • playwright
  • disk jockey
Years active1970–1996
Known forMartel "Too Sweet" Gordone – Penitentiary, Penitentiary II, Penitentiary III
Leon "The Lover" Johnson – Body and Soul
Jayne Harrison
(m. 1971; div. 1982)
Lolita Armbrister (m. 1995)
Maureen LaVette (m. 2005)

Leon Isaac Kennedy (born June 1, 1948[citation needed] or January 1, 1949[3][2][1]) (sources differ) is an American actor, disk jockey, film producer and playwright. Kennedy is perhaps best known as Martel "Too Sweet" Gordone in Jamaa Fanaka's Penitentiary (1979), Penitentiary II (1982) and Penitentiary III (1987).[6] Kennedy also is best known for his role as Leon "The Lover" Johnson in the 1981 film Body and Soul alongside his then-wife Jayne Kennedy.


Born in Cleveland, Kennedy first began his career as a disc jockey and nightclub promoter.[7] Kennedy headed to Los Angeles, California to seek success in his career in June 1971. Once in California, Kennedy became a DJ on the FM rock station and also worked as a coordinator for a variety show.[8] In 1972, Kennedy had a part in Fred Williamson's action film Hammer.[9] In 1976, Kennedy appeared in another Fred Williamson film, Mean Johnny Barrows. Kennedy later appeared in the 1978 film Death Force with his then-wife Jayne Kennedy and with James Iglehart.[10][11]

In 1981, Body and Soul was released. The film featured Kennedy in the lead role as Leon Johnson, an up-and-coming boxer, and was written by him as well. A remake of 1947's Body and Soul, the film also starred Jayne Kennedy] and Peter Lawford.[12] In 1988, Kennedy appeared with Ernest Borgnine, Herbert Lom, Oliver Reed, Robert Vaughn and Arnold Vosloo in Skeleton Coast.[13] In 1991, Kennedy appeared in Damages which was an episode of Against the Law playing the part of Spider.[14]

Personal life[edit]

Kennedy has been married three times. In June 1971, Kennedy, then 22, married Jayne Harrison, a 19–year old beauty pageant contestant who was from Wickliffe, Ohio; they divorced in 1982.[15] In 1995, Kennedy married Lolita Armbrister.[citation needed] In August 2005, Kennedy married to actress Maureen LaVette.[citation needed] Kennedy became a Christian evangelist during the early–1990s. In 2014, Kennedy sued Ebony magazine and Johnson Publishing Company; claiming in an article for their March 2013 "Scandal" issue the magazine falsely identified him as the person who leaked the infamous 1970s sextape of him with his then–wife Jayne Kennedy during their 1981 divorce proceedings.[16][17]

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