Ken Berry of 'F Troop,' 'Mama's Family' Dead at 85
Ken Berry, a TV and theater actor best remembered as one of the stars of the series "F Troop" and "Mama's Family," has died at 85.
Berry's death on Saturday was announced on social media by his former wife, comic actress Jackie Joseph.
The Illinois-born performer was discovered as a dancer as a teen, shortly before he served in the U.S. Army. While there, he won a dance competition that led to his TV debut. He spent the rest of his time in the military as a part of Special Services, entertaining the troops. A second talent competition resulted in an appearance on Ed Sullivan's "Toast of the Town," exposure that won him a contract with Universal.
Frank Gorshin, Carol Burnett, Ken Berry & Rock Hudson on "Carol & Company" in 1966
He performed in Las Vegas and as part of "The Billy Barnes Revue," which wound up on Broadway and was where he met his future wife, Joseph.
Berry became a frequent television presence; he was a regular on "The Ann Sothern Show" (1960-1961), "Ensign O'Toole" (1962-1963), "Dr. Kildare" (1961-1964), "F Troop" (1965-1967), "The Andy Griffith Show" (1968), "Mayberry, R.F.D." (1968-1971), and was the star of an episode of "The Brady Bunch" called "Kelly's Kids" (1974), which was a proposed spin-off that did not develop.
Berry had a long association and friendship with Carol Burnett, on whose variety show he appeared 19 times between 1968-1978. He played Vinton Harper on the long-running series "Mama's Family," a spin-off of "The Carol Burnett Show's" iconic "The Family" sketches, on which he appeared from 1983-1990.
As part of the "Mama's Family" cast
He also acted in the popular Disney films: "Herbie Rides Again" (1974) and "The Cat from Outer Space" (1978).
Berry on an episode of "The Golden Girls" in 1992, with Betty White and Rue McClanahan
Berry's last on-screen work was almost 20 years ago, in the short-lived series "Maggie Winters" (1999).
He was preceded in death by his son with Joseph, John, who passed away in 2016 after a battle with brain cancer. He is survived by their daughter together, Jennifer, and by his longtime partner, Susan.