'Airport' star George Kennedy dies at 91

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George Kennedy, who won a supporting actor Oscar for his role alongside Paul Newman in the beloved film "Cool Hand Luke," and was also a fixture of 1970s disaster movies including the "Airport" franchise and "Earthquake," died Sunday in Boise, Idaho. He was 91. His grandson Cory Schenkel reported the death on his Facebook page.

While Kennedy largely played gruff, blue-collar characters in dramas and genre films, he allowed a comedic side to emerge in the deadpan "The Naked Gun" movies.

Kennedy appeared in all four of the "Airport" movies of the 1970s as Joe Patroni, the reluctant, cigar-chomping but highly effective chief mechanic who could be counted upon when the chips were down and supreme expertise was required. He also turned in a powerful performance in 1975's "Earthquake" as the hearty, sentimental police sergeant Slade, who helps where he can in the wake of the devastating temblor.

Kennedy toiled in the TV trenches for much of the 1960s, especially guesting on Westerns — and occasionally appearing in supporting roles in high-profile films such as "In Harm's Way," "The Sons of Katie Elder," "The Flight of the Phoenix" and "The Dirty Dozen."

See photos of George Kennedy from his long career:

13 PHOTOS
George Kennedy
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'Airport' star George Kennedy dies at 91
GEORGE KENNEDY COOL HAND LUKE (1967)
GEORGE KENNEDY DENNIS THE MENACE STRIKES AGAIN! (1998)
GEORGE KENNEDY & BURT LANCASTER AIRPORT (1970)
SCENE WITH GEORGE KENNEDY BRASS TARGET (1978)
GEORGE KENNEDY ACTOR (1978)
SCENE WITH GEORGE KENNEDY HURRY SUNDOWN (1967)
GEORGE KENNEDY & FRANK SINATRA DIRTY DINGUS MAGEE (1970)
GEORGE KENNEDY FUKKATSU NO HI; VIRUS (1980)
O.J. SIMPSON LESLIE NIELSEN & GEORGE KENNEDY NAKED GUN 33 1/3: THE FINAL INSULT (1994)
JAMES STEWART DAN DURYEA ALEX MONTOYA GEORGE KENNEDY WILLIAM ALDRICH PETER FINCH & RONALD FRASER THE FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX
EVA RENZI GEORGE KENNEDY & JAMES GARNER THE PINK JUNGLE (1968)
JEFF BRIDGES GEORGE KENNEDY CLINT EASTWOOD & GEOFFREY LEWIS THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT (1974)
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He finally burst into the public consciousness with his 1967 role as Dragline in "Cool Hand Luke," in which he was second-billed and held his own alongside star Paul Newman. The New York Times said: "George Kennedy is powerfully obsessive as the top-dog who handles things his way as effectively and finally as destructively as does the warden or the guards."

During the 1970s he made two attempts at starring in his own television series: 1971's brief "Sarge," in which he played a priest with a police background, and 1975's "The Blue Knight," an adaptation of the Joseph Wambaugh novel and subsequent TV movie in which he played a Los Angeles beat cop.

Other notable film credits during the 1970s included Michael Cimino's "Thunderbolt and Lightfoot"; "The Eiger Sanction"; and Agatha Christie period mystery "Death on the Nile," in which he was gruff as always but in this case exceptionally well groomed. He worked steadily in the 1980s but made an impression only in the 1988 deadpan police comedy "The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!" and its sequels.

He recurred on primetime soap "Dallas" as rancher Carter McKay from 1988-91 and appeared in the reunion telepics "Dallas: J.R. Returns" (1996) and "Dallas: War of the Ewings" (1998).

Most recently he appeared in the 2014 crime drama remake "The Gambler," starring Mark Wahlberg.

Kennedy was born in New York City to parents in show business. He first appeared onstage at the age of two, but later he would spend 16 years in the U.S. Army, ultimately working for Armed Forces Radio. He participated in the opening of the Army Information Office, which provided technical advice to the entertainment industry. A role as technical adviser to "The Phil Silvers Show" led to his early career in television.

The actor also wrote books: murder mysteries "Murder on Location," published in 1983, and "Murder on High, released in 1984. His autobiography, "Trust Me," was published in 2011.

Kennedy was married four times, the first time to Dorothy Gillooly in the 1940s, the second (and third) time to Norma Wurman.

He is survived by fourth wife Joan McCarthy and two children from Wurman.

RELATED: See photos from inside this year's 2016 Oscars:

42 PHOTOS
Inside the 2016 Oscars
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'Airport' star George Kennedy dies at 91
Host Chris Rock speaks at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Brie Larson, from left, Cate Blanchett, and Kate Winslet appear in the audience at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Emily Blunt, left, and Charlize Theron present the award for best original screenplay at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Actor Ryan Gosling (L) and Actor Russell Crowe present on stage at the 88th Oscars on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California. AFP PHOTO / MARK RALSTON / AFP / MARK RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Charles Randolph (L) and Adam McKay accep their awards for Best Adapted Screenplay, The Big Short on stage at the 88th Oscars on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California. AFP PHOTO / MARK RALSTON / AFP / MARK RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Christian Bale, left, congratulates Adam McKay as he walks on stage to accept the award for best adapted screenplay for âThe Big Shortâ at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Sarah Silverman speaks at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 28: David White (L) and Mark A. Mangini win the Best Sound Editing award for 'Mad Max: Fury Road' onstage during the 88th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Members of Ex-Machina visual effects team accept their award for visual effects on stage at the 88th Oscars on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California. AFP PHOTO / MARK RALSTON / AFP / MARK RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
THE OSCARS(r) - THEATRE - The 88th Oscars, held on Sunday, February 28, at the Dolby Theatre(r) at Hollywood & Highland Center(r) in Hollywood, are televised live by the ABC Television Network at 7 p.m. EST/4 p.m. PST. (Photo by Adam Taylor/ABC via Getty Images) CATE BLANCHETT
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 28: Mark A. Mangini (L) and David White accept the Best Sound Editing award for 'Mad Max: Fury Road' onstage during the 88th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Chadwick Boseman, left, and Chris Evans present the award for best sound editing at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Priyanka Chopra, left, and Liev Schreiber present the award for best film editing at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Rachel McAdams, left, and Michael B. Jordan present the award for best cinematography at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Elka Wardega, from left, Lesley Vanderwalt, and Damian Martin accept the award for best makeup and hairstyling for âMad Max: Fury Roadâ at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Alicia Vikander accepts the award for best actress in a supporting role for âThe Danish Girlâ at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Tina Fey, left, and Steve Carell present the award for best production design at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Cate Blanchett presents the award for best costume design at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
J.K. Simmons, right, presents Alicia Vikander with the award for best actress in a supporting role for âThe Danish Girlâ at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Maria Fahl Vikander, left, congratulates Alicia Vikander after she won the award for best actress in a supporting role for âThe Danish Girlâ at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Kerry Washington, left, and Henry Cavill speak at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Charlize Theron, left, and Cate Blanchett appear in the audience at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Jason Segel, left, and Olivia Munn speak at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Droid characters from "Star Wars", BB-8, from left, R2-D2, and C-3PO speak at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Maria Fahl Vikander, from left, Harvey Weinstein, and Lady Gaga appear in the audience at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Margot Robbie, left, and Jared Leto present the award for best makeup and hairstyling at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Jenny Beavan accepts the award for best costume design for âMad Max: Fury Roadâ at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 28: Musicians Verdine White (L) and Philip Bailey (R) of Earth, Wind & Fire and Beck attend the 24th Annual Elton John AIDS Foundation's Oscar Viewing Party at The City of West Hollywood Park on February 28, 2016 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for EJAF)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 28: Actors Daisy Ridley (L) and Dev Patel speak onstage during the 88th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Director Asif Kapadia (L) and James Gay-Rees (R) accept the award for Best Documentary Feature, Amy, on stage at the 88th Oscars on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California. AFP PHOTO / MARK RALSTON / AFP / MARK RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 28: (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been converted to black and white.) Actor Leonardo DiCaprio attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images)
Louis C.K., left, presents Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy with the award for best documentary short for âA Girl in the River: The Price of Forgivenessâ at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Steven Spielberg, left, congratulates Mark Rylance after he won the award for best actor in a supporting role for âBridge of Spiesâ at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
The Weeknd performs his nominated song "Earned It" at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 28: (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been converted to black and white.) Actress Rachel McAdams (C) attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 28: Musician Dave Grohl performs onstage during the 88th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 28: Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Cheryl Boone Isaacs speaks onstage during the 88th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Children participate in a skit at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Mark Rylance accepts the award for best actor in a supporting role for âBridge of Spiesâ at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Naji Abu Nowar, from left, Jacir Eid, and Hassan Mutlag Al-Maraiyeh arrive at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
Actor Jacob Tremblay (L) and Actor Abraham Attah present on stage at the 88th Oscars on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California. AFP PHOTO / MARK RALSTON / AFP / MARK RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
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