Kenneth Mars

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Kenneth Mars
Kenneth Mars 1967.JPG
Kenneth Mars in 1967
Born(1935-04-04)April 4, 1935
DiedFebruary 12, 2011(2011-02-12) (aged 75)
Other namesKen Mars
Alma mater Northwestern University [1]
Occupation Actor, voice actor
Years active1962–2008
Barbara Newborn
(m. 1977;his death 2011)

Kenneth Mars (April 4, 1935 – February 12, 2011) [1] was an American actor and voice actor, who specialized in comedic roles. He had roles in two Mel Brooks films: as the Nazi playwright Franz Liebkind in The Producers (1968) and Police Inspector Hans Wilhelm Friedrich Kemp in Young Frankenstein (1974). [2]

Mel Brooks American director, writer, actor, and producer

Mel Brooks is an American filmmaker, actor, comedian, and composer. He is known as a creator of broad film farces and comedic parodies. Brooks began his career as a comic and a writer for the early TV variety show Your Show of Shows. He created, with Buck Henry, the hit television comedy series Get Smart, which ran from 1965 to 1970.

<i>Young Frankenstein</i> 1974 film by Mel Brooks, Gene Wilder

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Mars appeared in two seasons of Malcolm in the Middle as Otto, Francis's well-meaning but dimwitted boss. He voiced King Triton, Ariel's father, in the 1989 Disney animated film The Little Mermaid and its sequel, the television series and the Kingdom Hearts series. He also did several other animated voice-over film roles such as Littlefoot's grandfather in the Land Before Time series and that of Professor Screweyes in We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story (1993), and King Colbert (Prince Cornelius's father) in Thumbelina (1994).

<i>Malcolm in the Middle</i> American television sitcom

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Walt Disney Animation Studios Walt Disney Company animation studio

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The Little Mermaid is a 1989 American animated musical fantasy romance film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and Walt Disney Pictures. Loosely based on the Danish fairy tale of the same name by Hans Christian Andersen, The Little Mermaid tells the story of a mermaid princess named Ariel, who dreams of becoming human; after falling in love with a human prince named Eric. Written, produced, and directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, music by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, with art direction by Michael Peraza Jr. and Donald A. Towns, the film features the voices of Jodi Benson, Christopher Daniel Barnes, Pat Carroll, Samuel E. Wright, Jason Marin, Kenneth Mars, Buddy Hackett, and René Auberjonois.

Personal life

Mars was born in Chicago. His father, Bernard "Sonny" Mars, was a radio and television personality. [3] He studied fine arts and acting at Northwestern University. [1]

Chicago City in Illinois, United States

Chicago, officially the City of Chicago, is the most populous city in Illinois, as well as the third most populous city in the United States. With an estimated population of 2,716,450 (2017), it is the most populous city in the Midwest. Chicago is the principal city of the Chicago metropolitan area, often referred to as Chicagoland, and the county seat of Cook County, the second most populous county in the United States. The metropolitan area, at nearly 10 million people, is the third-largest in the United States, and the fourth largest in North America and the third largest metropolitan area in the world by land area.

Northwestern University Private research university in Illinois, United States

Northwestern University (NU) is a private research university based in Evanston, Illinois, United States, with other campuses located in Chicago and Doha, Qatar, and academic programs and facilities in Miami, Florida; Washington, D.C.; and San Francisco, California. Along with its undergraduate programs, Northwestern is known for its Kellogg School of Management, Pritzker School of Law, Feinberg School of Medicine, Bienen School of Music, Medill School of Journalism, and McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science.

After graduation he began acting in the early 1960s, then did small roles in theatre followed by TV and film. In 1977, he married Barbara Newborn. They had two daughters, Susannah and Rebecca. The marriage lasted until his death in 2011. [1]



Mars made his acting debut in 1962 as a book publisher on Car 54, Where Are You? . He later appeared on such television series as Gunsmoke , Get Smart , McMillan & Wife , Columbo , and The Bob Crane Show . [4] He also appeared in dramatic roles, such as Will Turner, a former FBI agent, in Warren Beatty's The Parallax View .

Gunsmoke is an American radio and television Western drama series created by director Norman Macdonnell and writer John Meston. The stories take place in and around Dodge City, Kansas, during the settlement of the American West. The central character is lawman Marshal Matt Dillon, played by William Conrad on radio and James Arness on television. When aired in the UK, the television series was initially titled Gun Law, later reverting to Gunsmoke.

<i>Get Smart</i> American comedy television series 1965-1970

Get Smart is an American comedy television series that satirizes the secret agent genre that was popular in the United States in the late 1960s. The program was created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry, and had its television premiere on NBC on September 18, 1965. The show stars Don Adams as agent Maxwell "Max" Smart, a.k.a. Agent 86, Barbara Feldon as Agent 99, and Edward Platt as Thaddeus, the Chief. Henry said that they created the show at the request of Daniel Melnick to capitalize on "the two biggest things in the entertainment world today": James Bond and Inspector Clouseau. Brooks said: "It's an insane combination of James Bond and Mel Brooks comedy."

Mars played Harry Zarakartos on the Richard Benjamin-Paula Prentiss sitcom He & She . [4] He was featured in a number of small roles in broadcasts such as the Misfits of Science pilot episode and the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Shadowplay". He was cast opposite Bette Davis in Hello Mother, Goodbye! , a 1973 television pilot aired by NBC but never picked up as a series. From 1970-74 Mars guest starred in five episodes of Love, American Style , playing various characters. [4]

Richard Benjamin actor, film director

Richard Samuel Benjamin is an American actor and film director.

Paula Prentiss American actress

Paula Prentiss is an American actress best known for her film roles in Where the Boys Are, Man's Favorite Sport?, The Stepford Wives, What's New Pussycat?, In Harm's Way, The Black Marble, and The Parallax View, and the cult television series He & She.

<i>He & She</i>

He & She is an American sitcom that aired on the CBS television network as part of its 1967–1968 lineup, originally sponsored by General Foods and Lever Brothers.

In 1977, Mars became a series regular on both the Sha Na Na variety series and on Norman Lear's talk show parody Fernwood 2-Night in the memorable recurring role of William W.D. 'Bud' Prize, appearing the following year on America 2-Night in the same role. In 2001 Mars portrayed a comedic famous but washed-up photographer on Just Shoot Me . Before his death, his final television roles were Otto, the German dude ranch owner on Fox Broadcasting Company's Malcolm in the Middle , an appearance on Disney Channel's Hannah Montana , and a reprise of his role as Grandpa Longneck in The Land Before Time television series. [4]

Stage and film roles

Mars often played characters with exaggerated accents. He portrayed German characters in The Producers and Young Frankenstein , and played a Croatian musicologist, Hugh Simon, in What's Up, Doc? . His first broadly accented character was that of Sir Evelyn Oakleigh in the 1962 Off-Broadway revival of the Cole Porter musical Anything Goes . He also appeared in the 1962 Broadway play, The Affair .[ citation needed ]

Comedy albums

In 1975, ABC/Dunhill released a comedy LP produced by Earl Doud, Henry the First, featuring Mars in a number of comedy bits as Henry Kissinger, including a cover version of the Bachman–Turner Overdrive song, "Takin' Care of Business".[ citation needed ]

Voice acting roles

Mars cultivated a lengthy voice acting career, launching it by voicing several characters on Uncle Croc's Block . He voiced the roles of Ariel's father King Triton in The Little Mermaid," and in the video games Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II.

He voiced Littlefoot's Grandpa Longneck in the Land Before Time series of films and the spin-off television series, and the villainous Professor Screweyes in We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story. He played some minor roles on the popular radio show, Adventures in Odyssey . He played Sweet William in Fievel's American Tails , which took place after An American Tail: Fievel Goes West . He voiced characters on many animated television series, such as The Smurfs , The Biskitts , A Pup Named Scooby-Doo , TaleSpin , and Animaniacs , as well as video games, such as Fallout and Kingdom Hearts .

Cancer diagnosis and retirement from acting

In 2008, Mars was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer which had already spread beyond his pancreas. His cancer made him so ill that he could not reprise his role as King Triton for The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning , so Jim Cummings took over the role. As well as not being able to voice Triton, he could not voice Grandpa Longneck in The Land Before Time XIII: The Wisdom of Friends (Grandpa does appear in the film, but has no lines).


Mars died from pancreatic cancer on February 12, 2011, at the age of 75. [1]


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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Kenneth Mars, veteran screen and voice actor, dies at 75". Los Angeles Times . February 15, 2011. Retrieved 2011-02-23.
  2. "Kenneth Mars obituary". The Daily Telegraph. London, UK. February 15, 2011.
  3. Profile,; accessed June 27, 2015.
  4. 1 2 3 4 "Kenneth Mars". TV Guide . Retrieved 24 April 2019.