American actor and dancer Ken Berry used his wholesome looks to carve out a lasting place in pop culture with his roles in the sitcoms "F Troop" (ABC, 1965-67) and "Mama's Family" (NBC/Syndicated, 1983-90). A native of Moline, Illinois, he began taking tap dance lessons as a teenager, and toured with a big band show. Later, he served in the Army alongside actor Leonard Nimoy, who helped him make contacts within the entertainment industry. After winning a military talent competition, he was invited to appear on Ed Sullivan's "The Toast of the Town" (CBS, 1948-55). Initially, he concentrated on stage performing, appearing on Broadway and as the opening act for Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. He made his television debut as a professional on "The Chevy Showroom" (ABC, 1957-60), before landing recurring roles on "The Ann Sothern Show" (CBS, 1958-61) and "Dr. Kildare" (NBC, 1961-66). In the mid-'60s he graduated to series lead with the role of Captain Wilton Parmenter on the Western comedy "F Troop." That character's good-natured earnestness would provide the template for most of Berry's remaining career. He replaced Andy Griffith when the star left his eponymous show, playing Sam Jones on the spinoff "Mayberry, RFD" (CBS, 1968-71). His background as a song-and-dance man made his a sought after guest on variety shows, most especially "The Carol Burnett Show" (CBS, 1967-1978). The actor also hosted his own short-lived variety show, "The Ken Berry 'Wow' Show" (CBS, 1972). Beyond variety, Berry also made frequent guest appearances on shows like "Love, American Style" (ABC, 1969-74) and "Fantasy Island" (ABC, 1978-84). On film, he appeared in the Disney films "Herbie Rides Again" (1974) and "The Cat from Outer Space" (1978). His time on Burnett's show proved fruitful later when he was cast as Vinton Harper on "Mama's Family." Based on a long-running sketch from "The Carol Burnett Show," the sitcom had Berry playing the son of Vicki Lawrence's acerbic "Mama" character. After the sitcom ended, the actor largely scaled back. He made a guest appearance on "The Golden Girls" (NBC, 1984-92) and his last on screen acting role was in the short-lived sitcom "Maggie Winters" (CBS, 1998-99). Berry passed away in Burbank, California on December 1, 2018 at the age of 85.
Cast (Feature Film)
Editing (Feature Film)
Made screen debut in "Harrigan and Sons"
Starred in the Western-themed sitcom "F Troop"
Joined the cast of "Mama's Family"