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Arthur Kennedy (1914 - 1990)

A photo of Arthur Kennedy
Arthur Kennedy
1914 - 1990
Born
February 17, 1914
Worcester, Worcester County, Massachusetts United States
Death
January 5, 1990
Branford, New Haven County, Connecticut United States
Other Names
Johnny
Summary
Arthur Kennedy was born on February 17, 1914 in Worcester, Massachusetts United States. He died on January 5, 1990 in Branford, Connecticut United States at 75 years of age.
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Updated: June 20, 2021
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Arthur Kennedy Born February 17, 1914 in Worcester, Massachusetts, USA Died January 5, 1990 in Branford, Connecticut, USA (brain tumor) Birth Name John Arthur Kennedy Nickname Johnny Height 5' 10" (1.78 m) Mini Bio (1) Arthur Kennedy, one of the premier character actors in American film from the late 1940s through the early 1960s, achieved fame in the role of Biff in Elia Kazan's historic production of Arthur Miller's Pultizer-Prize winning play "Death of a Salesman." Although he was not selected to recreate the role on screen, he won one Best Actor and four Best Supporting Academy Award nominations between 1949 and 1959 and ranked as one of Hollywood's finest players. Born John Arthur Kennedy to a dentist and his wife on February 17, 1914 in Worcester, Massachusetts. As a young man, known as "Johnny" to his friends, studied drama at the Carnegie Institute of Technology. By the time he was 20 years old, he was involved in local theatrical groups. Kennedy's first professional gig was was with the Globe Theatre Company, which toured the Midwest offering abbreviated versions of Shakespearian plays. Shakesperian star Maurice Evans hired Kennedy for his company, with which he appeared in the Broadway production of "Richard II" in 1937. While performing in Evans' repertory company, Kennedy also worked in the Federal Theatre project. Arthur Kennedy made his Broadway debut in "Everywhere I Roam" in 1938, the same year that he married Mary Cheffrey, who would remain his wife until her death in 1975. He also appeared on Broadway in "Life and Death of an American" in 1939 and in "An International Incident" in 1940 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, in support of the great American actress the theater had been named after. Kennedy and his wife moved west to Los Angeles, California in 1938, and it was while acting on the stage in L.A. that he was discovered by fellow actor James Cagney, who cast him as his brother in the film City for Conquest (1940). The role brought with it a contract with Warner Bros., and the studio put him in supporting roles in some prestigious movies, including High Sierra (1941), the film that made Humphrey Bogart a star, They Died with Their Boots On (1941) with Errol Flynn, and Howard Hawks's Air Force (1943) alongside future Best Supporting Actor Oscar winner Gig Young and the great John Garfield. His career was interrupted by military service in World War Two. After the war, Kennedy went back to the Broadway stage, where he gained a reputation as an actor's actor, appearing in Arthur Miller's 1947 Tony Award-winning play "All My Sons," which was directed by Kazan. He played John Proctor in the original production of Miller's reflection on McCarthyism, "The Crucible" - which Kazan, an informer who prostrated himself before the forces of McCarthyism, refused to direct - and also appeared in Miller's last Broadway triumph, "The Price." When Kennedy returned to film work, he quickly distinguished himself as one of the best and most talented of supporting actors & character leads, appearing in such major films as Boomerang! (1947), Champion (1949) (for which he received his first Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor) and The Glass Menagerie (1950), playing Tom in a mediocre adaptation of Tennessee Williams's classic play. Kennedy won his first and only Best Actor nomination for Bright Victory (1951), playing a blinded vet, a role for which he won the New York Film Critics Circle award over such competition as Marlon Brando and Humphrey Bogart. Other films included Fritz Lang's 'Rancho Notorious (1951)', Anthony Mann's Bend of the River (1952), William Wyler's The Desperate Hours (1955), Richard Brooks' Elmer Gantry (1960), David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia (1962), and John Ford's Cheyenne Autumn (1964). In 1956, Kennedy won another Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his role in Trial (1955), plus two more Supporting nods in 1958 and 1959 for his appearances in the screen adaptations of Grace Metalious's Peyton Place (1957), and James Jones Some Came Running (1958). Kennedy returned to Broadway frequently in the 1950s, and headlined the 1952 play "See the Jaguar", a flop best remembered for giving a young actor named James Dean one of his first important parts. A decade later, Kennedy replaced his good friend Anthony Quinn in the Broadway production of "Becket", alternating the roles of Becket and Henry II with Laurence Olivier, who was quite fond of working with him. In the 1960s, the prestigious movie parts dried up as he matured, but he continued working in movies and on TV until he retired in the mid-1980s. He moved out of Los Angeles to live with family members in Connecticut. In the last years of his life, he was afflicted with thyroid cancer and eye disease. He died of a brain tumor at 75, survived by his two children by his wife Mary, Terence and actress Laurie Kennedy. He is buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in Lequille, Nova Scotia, Canada. - IMDb Mini Biography By: Jon C. Hopwood Spouse (1) Mary Cheffey (28 March 1938 - 27 April 1975) ( her death) ( 2 children) Trivia (9) Interred at Woodlawn Cemetery, Lequille, Nova Scotia, Canada. Four of Kennedy's five Oscar-nominated performances were directed by Mark Robson: Champion (1949), Bright Victory (1951), Trial (1955), and Peyton Place (1957). His fifth nod, for Some Came Running (1958) was directed by Vincente Minnelli. Edmond O'Brien was originally cast as Jackson Bentley in Lawrence of Arabia (1962). After O'Brien filmed several scenes, he suffered a heart attack and had to be replaced. Kennedy was recommended to director David Lean by Anthony Quinn, whom Kennedy had replaced on Broadway in the role of King Henry II in the play "Beckett" (1960). In 1936, while a struggling actor in New York, Kennedy roomed with David Wayne, Ben Yaffeem, and several others in a West Seventies brownstone. Kennedy twice played Alexander Hamilton on television. Kennedy's actress daughter Laurie won a Tony nomination in 1979 for "Man and Superman.". Alhough his name appears on the video box for the Italian film "Trauma" (1978) (aka "Enigma Rosso" and "Rings of Fear"), he's not in the film or in its credits. His character Jackson Bentley, newspaper man & film maker, in Lawrence of Arabia (1962) is a fictionalized version of real life "discoverer" of T.E. Lawrence, Lowell Thomas. Starred in three Oscar Best Picture nominees: Peyton Place (1957), Elmer Gantry (1960) and Lawrence of Arabia (1962). Lawrence of Arabia won. Personal Quotes (4) [1985, about retiring] I ask myself that frequently. It seems the theater has been on the downcline since the mid-fifties. The pace of television shows is very unappealing to me. I will not live in Hollywood or New York anymore and if they don't see you around they just don't think of you for roles. I guess I'm retired, but if Tony Quinn [Anthony Quinn] told me that there was a hell of a part for me in a picture or play I'd probably do it. Because I'd believe him and I miss his company. I like to work with old friends and there are fewer and fewer of them left. [on English actors] They use film as a method for living well, but theater is their heart's desire. They're always going back to it. [In a 1988 interview on making movies in Italy] They were spaghetti Mafiosos. Only two or three had any quality; but I love to travel and the scripts didn't matter too much. I worked in English, the Italians in their language. There's no direct sound; you have to dub everything. Finally I told my agent to wrap it up. I haven't worked until now. [on Henry Hathaway] A walking encyclopedia of the business. Away from work, he was delightful, but on the set, a holy terror!
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Arthur Kennedy
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Arthur Kennedy
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Johnny
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Arthur Kennedy was born on in Worcester, Worcester County, Massachusetts United States
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Arthur Kennedy died on in Branford, New Haven County, Connecticut United States
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Arthur Kennedy Born February 17, 1914 in Worcester, Massachusetts, USA Died January 5, 1990 in Branford, Connecticut, USA (brain tumor) Birth Name John Arthur Kennedy Nickname Johnny Height 5' 10" (1.78 m) Mini Bio (1) Arthur Kennedy, one of the premier character actors in American film from the late 1940s through the early 1960s, achieved fame in the role of Biff in Elia Kazan's historic production of Arthur Miller's Pultizer-Prize winning play "Death of a Salesman." Although he was not selected to recreate the role on screen, he won one Best Actor and four Best Supporting Academy Award nominations between 1949 and 1959 and ranked as one of Hollywood's finest players. Born John Arthur Kennedy to a dentist and his wife on February 17, 1914 in Worcester, Massachusetts. As a young man, known as "Johnny" to his friends, studied drama at the Carnegie Institute of Technology. By the time he was 20 years old, he was involved in local theatrical groups. Kennedy's first professional gig was was with the Globe Theatre Company, which toured the Midwest offering abbreviated versions of Shakespearian plays. Shakesperian star Maurice Evans hired Kennedy for his company, with which he appeared in the Broadway production of "Richard II" in 1937. While performing in Evans' repertory company, Kennedy also worked in the Federal Theatre project. Arthur Kennedy made his Broadway debut in "Everywhere I Roam" in 1938, the same year that he married Mary Cheffrey, who would remain his wife until her death in 1975. He also appeared on Broadway in "Life and Death of an American" in 1939 and in "An International Incident" in 1940 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, in support of the great American actress the theater had been named after. Kennedy and his wife moved west to Los Angeles, California in 1938, and it was while acting on the stage in L.A. that he was discovered by fellow actor James Cagney, who cast him as his brother in the film City for Conquest (1940). The role brought with it a contract with Warner Bros., and the studio put him in supporting roles in some prestigious movies, including High Sierra (1941), the film that made Humphrey Bogart a star, They Died with Their Boots On (1941) with Errol Flynn, and Howard Hawks's Air Force (1943) alongside future Best Supporting Actor Oscar winner Gig Young and the great John Garfield. His career was interrupted by military service in World War Two. After the war, Kennedy went back to the Broadway stage, where he gained a reputation as an actor's actor, appearing in Arthur Miller's 1947 Tony Award-winning play "All My Sons," which was directed by Kazan. He played John Proctor in the original production of Miller's reflection on McCarthyism, "The Crucible" - which Kazan, an informer who prostrated himself before the forces of McCarthyism, refused to direct - and also appeared in Miller's last Broadway triumph, "The Price." When Kennedy returned to film work, he quickly distinguished himself as one of the best and most talented of supporting actors & character leads, appearing in such major films as Boomerang! (1947), Champion (1949) (for which he received his first Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor) and The Glass Menagerie (1950), playing Tom in a mediocre adaptation of Tennessee Williams's classic play. Kennedy won his first and only Best Actor nomination for Bright Victory (1951), playing a blinded vet, a role for which he won the New York Film Critics Circle award over such competition as Marlon Brando and Humphrey Bogart. Other films included Fritz Lang's 'Rancho Notorious (1951)', Anthony Mann's Bend of the River (1952), William Wyler's The Desperate Hours (1955), Richard Brooks' Elmer Gantry (1960), David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia (1962), and John Ford's Cheyenne Autumn (1964). In 1956, Kennedy won another Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his role in Trial (1955), plus two more Supporting nods in 1958 and 1959 for his appearances in the screen adaptations of Grace Metalious's Peyton Place (1957), and James Jones Some Came Running (1958). Kennedy returned to Broadway frequently in the 1950s, and headlined the 1952 play "See the Jaguar", a flop best remembered for giving a young actor named James Dean one of his first important parts. A decade later, Kennedy replaced his good friend Anthony Quinn in the Broadway production of "Becket", alternating the roles of Becket and Henry II with Laurence Olivier, who was quite fond of working with him. In the 1960s, the prestigious movie parts dried up as he matured, but he continued working in movies and on TV until he retired in the mid-1980s. He moved out of Los Angeles to live with family members in Connecticut. In the last years of his life, he was afflicted with thyroid cancer and eye disease. He died of a brain tumor at 75, survived by his two children by his wife Mary, Terence and actress Laurie Kennedy. He is buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in Lequille, Nova Scotia, Canada. Spouse (1) Mary Cheffey (28 March 1938 - 27 April 1975) ( her death) ( 2 children) Trivia (11) Following his death, he was interred at Woodlawn Cemetery in Lequille, Nova Scotia, Canada. Four of Kennedy's five Oscar-nominated performances were directed by Mark Robson: Champion (1949), Bright Victory (1951), Trial (1955) and Peyton Place (1957). His fifth nod, for Some Came Running (1958), was directed by Vincente Minnelli. Edmond O'Brien was originally cast as Jackson Bentley in Lawrence of Arabia (1962). After O'Brien filmed several scenes, he suffered a heart attack and had to be replaced. Kennedy was recommended to director David Lean by Anthony Quinn, whom Kennedy had replaced on Broadway in the role of King Henry II in the play "Beckett" (1960). In 1936, while a struggling actor in New York, Kennedy roomed with David Wayne, Ben Yaffeem, and several others in a West Seventies brownstone. Kennedy twice played Alexander Hamilton on television. Kennedy's actress daughter Laurie won a Tony Award nomination in 1979 for "Man and Superman". Alhough his name appears on the video box for the Italian film Rings of Fear (1978) (aka "Enigma Rosso"), he was not in the film or in its credits. His character Jackson Bentley, newspaper man and filmmaker, in Lawrence of Arabia (1962) is a fictionalized version of real life "discoverer" of T.E. Lawrence, Lowell Thomas. Had starred in three Oscar Best Picture nominees: Peyton Place (1957), Elmer Gantry (1960) and Lawrence of Arabia (1962). Lawrence of Arabia won. He was awarded 2 Stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Motion Pictures at 6681 Hollywood Boulevard; and for Television at 1620 Vine Street in Hollywood, California. He and Kevin McCarthy were born two days apart on opposite coasts and they even bear a slight resemblance to one another. Personal Quotes (4) [1985, about retiring] I ask myself that frequently. It seems the theater has been on the downcline since the mid-fifties. The pace of television shows is very unappealing to me. I will not live in Hollywood or New York anymore and if they don't see you around they just don't think of you for roles. I guess I'm retired, but if Tony Quinn [Anthony Quinn] told me that there was a hell of a part for me in a picture or play I'd probably do it. Because I'd believe him and I miss his company. I like to work with old friends and there are fewer and fewer of them left. [on English actors] They use film as a method for living well, but theater is their heart's desire. They're always going back to it. [In a 1988 interview on making movies in Italy] They were spaghetti Mafiosos. Only two or three had any quality; but I love to travel and the scripts didn't matter too much. I worked in English, the Italians in their language. There's no direct sound; you have to dub everything. Finally, I told my agent to wrap it up. I haven't worked until now. [on Henry Hathaway] A walking encyclopedia of the business. Away from work, he was delightful, but on the set, a holy terror!

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Arthur Kennedy, who appeared in more than 70 Hollywood films and won a Tony Award on Broadway for creating the role of Biff in Arthur Miller's ''Death of a Salesman,'' died of a brain tumor on Friday at the Connecticut Hospice in Branford. He was 75 years old. Mr. Kennedy, an actor who projected an exceptional honesty and naturalness on stage, was in the original casts of several of Mr. Miller's plays in the late 1940's and early 1950's, giving memorable performances in ''All My Sons,'' ''The Crucible'' and ''Death of a Salesman,'' for which he won a Tony in 1949. After his debut in the movies in 1940, Mr. Kennedy became a seemingly ubiquitous man for all parts , appearing in films like ''Lawrence of Arabia,'' ''Elmer Gantry'' and dozens of westerns like ''Rancho Notorious.'' He received Academy Award nominations for ''Bright Victory,'' ''Trial,'' ''Peyton Place,'' ''Champion'' and ''Some Came Running.'' Although Mr. Kennedy won many parts in westerns as a feisty straight shooter, he said in a recent interview that his most memorable roles were playing Hollywood's full complement of villains. Recent Renewed Interest The movie critic David Thomson described Mr. Kennedy as ''one of the subtlest American supporting actors, never more so than when revealing the malice or weakness in an ostensibly friendly man.'' In recent years, Mr. Kennedy began making movies again after a 10-year hiatus from the screen during which he battled thyroid cancer and eye disease. His revival as a screen actor came at a time when his previous work received growing attention, not only for his performance as a journalist in the recut version of ''Lawrence of Arabia'' but also for the revival of his westerns on cable television. His last film, ''Grandpa,'' was completed four months ago, only days before he became ill, and will be released this spring. It followed ''Signs of Life,'' a fable about a day in the life of a mythical fishing town in Maine, which was released last April. John Arthur Kennedy was born in Worcester, Mass., on Feb. 17, 1914, the son of a dentist. He studied drama at the Carnegie Institute of Technology and moved to New York during the depths of the Depression. He joined a classical-repertory company in 1936 and appeared in several Shaekespearean productions. Appeared With Bogart In 1938, Mr. Kennedy married Mary Cheffrey, a former actress, in New York City. They had two children, Terence, born in 1943, and Laurie, born in 1945. In 1940, Mr. Kennedy moved to Hollywood after being invited to play James Cagney's younger brother in ''City for Conquest'' and signed a contract with Warner Brothers after completing the film. Before joining the armed forces in 1943, he made six films, including ''High Sierra,'' in which he played Red, the budding gangster, co-starring with Humphrey Bogart. Mr. Kennedy returned to Broadway in 1947 to act in the first of four Arthur Miller plays that would be among his greatest triumphs on stage. In ''All My Sons,'' he portrayed a man who returns from war to find his father exposed as a war profiteer. In 1949, ''Death of a Salesman'' opened at New York's Morosco Theater, with Mr. Kennedy playing Biff, the oldest son and most bitter disappointment of the play's central character, Willie Loman. The critical accolades Mr. Kennedy received for both plays established him as a major American stage actor. He later starred in two more Arthur Miller works, ''The Crucible'' in 1953 and ''The Price'' in 1968. In 1960, he appeared on Broadway with Sir Laurence Olivier as the title character in ''Becket,'' after Anthony Quinn dropped out of the role of King Henry II and Sir Laurence switched parts. Mr. Kennedy, whose wife died in 1975, is survived by his daughter, Laurie Kennedy, an actress, of Manhattan.Arthur Kennedy died on January 5, 1990 in Branford, Connecticut at 75 years of age. He was born on February 17, 1914 in Worcester, Massachusetts.
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Refresh this page to see various historical events that occurred during Arthur's lifetime.

In 1914, in the year that Arthur Kennedy was born, in August, the world's first red and green traffic lights were installed at the corner of East 105th Street and Euclid Avenue in Cleveland Ohio. The electric traffic light had been invented by a policeman in Salt Lake City Utah in 1912.

In 1929, Arthur was only 15 years old when the St. Valentine's Day Massacre happened on February 14th. In Chicago, seven men from the North Side Irish gang were gunned down by Al Capone's South Side Italian gang at the garage at 2122 North Clark Street. Al Capone was making a successful move to take over Chicago's organized crime. But the St. Valentine's Day massacre also resulted in a public outcry against all gangsters.

In 1952, when he was 38 years old, on July 2, Dr. Jonas E. Salk tested the first dead-virus polio vaccine on 43 children. The worst epidemic of polio had broken out that year - in the U.S. there were 58,000 cases reported. Of these, 3,145 people had died and 21,269 were left with mild to disabling paralysis.

In 1971, by the time he was 57 years old, in March, Congress passed the Twenty-sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which lowered the voting age to 18 (from 21). It was a response to the criticism that men could fight at 18, but not vote for the policies and politicians who sent them to war. The states quickly ratified the Amendment and it was signed into law on July 1st by President Richard Nixon.

In 1990, in the year of Arthur Kennedy's passing, on April 24th, the Hubble telescope was launched into space after long delays due to the Challenger explosion. An optical flaw was found within weeks of launch but was fixed within three years. The discoveries made possible by the Hubble have contributed to scientists' understanding of the universe.

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