Best known for his role as one of the few remaining survivors of the zombie outbreak in George Romero's classic 1978 film "Dawn of the Dead," Ken Foree is a trained actor who studied at Michael Shulman's Performing Gallery in New York City. Memorable for his large frame and height, and his commanding, charismatic presence, Foree boasts a lengthy resume in film and television. His diverse roles, which range from the shock-horror movies of Rob Zombie to popular shows on Nickelodeon, have won him numerous fans across multiple genres.
Born to a family involved in politics and academia in Indianapolis, Foree attended Loyola University in Chicago and began working in community service in New York City as a counselor for street academy programs. After opening a Manhattan-based photography studio that was later ransacked and robbed, Foree had little to lose and randomly accompanied a friend to an acting audition. After landing a role in the off-Broadway play, "Blues for Mr. Charlie," Foree enrolled in acting school. It was there that he studied under Michael Schulman, a former teacher of method acting proponent Lee Strasberg, while working at a Greenwich Village restaurant to make ends meet.
Foree landed his first film role with the sports comedy "The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings" (1976), about Negro League barnstormers during the Depression. But it was his second film, George Romero's "Dawn of the Dead," that would make him a fan favorite among horror movie aficionados. Following his turn as everyone's favorite survivor Peter, a SWAT team member holed up in a mall along with a handful of others in the aftermath of a zombie outbreak, Foree became a horror movie icon whose work in the classic film still garners him large crowds at horror festivals and conventions decades later. He worked with Romero again in "Knightriders" (1981), and with another beloved horror director, Stuart Gordon, in the loose adaptation of an H.P. Lovecraft story, "From Beyond" (1986).
Foree's work, however, has ranged far and wide and well beyond the horror genre. In addition to small parts in episodes of 1980s and 1990s television shows such as "The A-Team" (NBC, 1983-87), "The Fall Guy" (ABC, 1981-86), and "The X-Files" (Fox, 1993-2002), he was a regular cast member on the teen comedy "Kenan & Kel" (Nickelodeon, 1996-2000), playing the father of the two leads. Throughout the 2000s, Foree continued appearing in a number of films, as well as doing some voiceover work for animation and video games.
Foree's status as a cult film star has earned him multiple tributes within the horror genre. Simon Pegg's character in the zombie movie "Shaun of the Dead" (2004) works at Foree Electronics, while in the 2004 remake of "Dawn of the Dead," Foree's televangelist character utters the same famous words spoken by Peter in the original: "When there's no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth." Novelist Jonathan Maberry included him, along with such horror celebrities as the comic film writer and performer Joe Bob Briggs and make-up and special effects superstar Tom Savini, in the final book of his Pine Deep Trilogy Bad Moon Rising (2008). In 2005, Foree garnered a new generation of horror fans with a role in Rob Zombie's "The Devil's Rejects," going on to appear in the subsequent Zombie films "Halloween" (2007) and "The Lords of Salem" (2012).
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Cast in the Off-Broadway production of "Blues for Mr. Charlie"
First film role in "The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings"
Played the iconic role of Peter in George A. Romero's classic zombie film "Dawn of the Dead"
Landed a recurring role on Nickelodeon's "Kenan & Kel"
Worked with Rob Zombie in "The Devil's Rejects"