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Ken Berry of 'F Troop,' 'Mama's Family' Dead at 85

Ken Berry of 'F Troop,' 'Mama's Family' Dead at 85
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.