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Film heavy George Kennedy also dances

Film heavy George Kennedy also dances

1967: Actor George Kennedy demonstrates his dancing moves for Los Angeles Times staff photographer Nelson Tiffany.

This photo accompanied staff writer Margaret Harford’s article in the Aug. 21, 1967, Los Angeles Times. Harford wrote:

When George Kennedy walks into a room, the first impression is what a big, solid, hunk of man he is–6 foot 4 and 230 pounds on his lightest days.

His size makes him a natural for bully roles, dozens of which he has played in movies and on television. Now after 10 years of never making to to the last reel, George is getting co-star billing with Jim Garner in “The Jolly Pink Jungle.” And, look who’s dancing!

It’s Big George, breathing hard but ambulatory, scampering through a cha-cha and a mambo to prove that a first-class character man will do anything.

“It’s tough moving 230 pounds that fast, you know,” huffed Kennedy, one of the best character men in the business with a screen flight record of three wins and 103 losses.

Ballroom dancing may have found a new enthusiast and all because a line in “The Jolly Pink Jungle” has George bragging “I’ll show ‘em, baby. I used to be a dance instructor.”

George admitted his eyebrows shot into his scalp when he read it the first time. But being a totally professional man, he began working with choreographer Hal Belfer weeks before the picture started. Belfer is an old hand at encouraging movie actors with two left feet to move them rhythmically.

“The first day I ran out of the rehearsal,” admitted George sheepishly. “But it’s worked out OK. I’ll try anything. That’s what they pay me for.

“You won’t believe this, but I even sing a bit. Any player who is getting studio backing should be grateful,” said George who has a seven-year contract with Universal that allows him plenty of moving around space. …

The movie, its name shortened to “The Pink Jungle,” was released in 1968.

A scene of Kennedy dancing is on YouTube.

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