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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Kenneth Mars 1936-2011

One of the funniest character actors of the past fifty years, Kenneth Mars, died yesterday in California at age 74.
(kenneth mars with ryan o'neal in "what's up, doc?")
Mars' first job was providing voices in 1962 for "The Jetsons" animated t.v. series, and made his first actual appearance on t.v. the following year in "Car 54, Where Are You?". More television work followed until 1968 when he broke into movies in a big way, famously playing the Nazi, Franz Leibkind, in "The Producers". Mars followed up with two more classic comedic performances in "What's Up, Doc?" in 1972, opposite Barbra Streisand and Ryan O'Neal, and in 1974 came his most famous and iconic role, that of the heavily-accented Inspector Kemp in Mel Brooks' "Young Frankenstein". Mars never stopped working, mostly in t.v., notably in the cult 70's t.v. series, "Fernwood Tonight", and by providing voice-over work for dozens of animated series. But he capped his long and fruitful career with another notable comedic role, that of Otto Mankusser in "Malcolm in the Middle" from 2002-04.

(harvey korman with madeline kahn in "blazing saddles")
Coincidentally, today is the birthday of another legendary comedic actor, Harvey Korman, who died in 2008. Korman became a household name on "The Carol Burnett Show", but he, like Mars, also shone in several classic Mel Brooks' comedies, namely, "Blazing Saddles" and "High Anxiety". As far as we know, Korman and Mars only once worked together when Mars was a guest on "The Carol Burnett Show" in 1974.

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