Percy Kilbride

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Percy Kilbride

as Pa Kettle (1947-1955)
BornPercy William Kilbride
(1888-07-16)July 16, 1888
San Francisco, California, U.S.
DiedDecember 11, 1964(1964-12-11) (aged 76)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
OccupationActor
Years active1928–55
 
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Percy Kilbride

as Pa Kettle (1947-1955)
BornPercy William Kilbride
(1888-07-16)July 16, 1888
San Francisco, California, U.S.
DiedDecember 11, 1964(1964-12-11) (aged 76)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
OccupationActor
Years active1928–55

Percy William Kilbride[1] (July 16, 1888 – December 11, 1964) was an American character actor. He made a career of playing country hicks, most memorably as Pa Kettle in the Ma and Pa Kettle series of feature films.

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Early life

Kilbride was born in San Francisco, California, the son of Owen Kilbride, a Canadian, and his wife Elizabeth Kilbride (née Kelly), who was born in the state of Maryland.[1][2]

Career

Kilbride began working in the theater at the age of 12[citation needed] and eventually left to become an actor on Broadway. He first played an 18th-century French dandy in A Tale of Two Cities. His film debut was as "Jakey" in the Pre-Code Carole Lombard film, White Woman (1933). He left Broadway for good in 1942, when Jack Benny insisted that Kilbride reprise his Broadway role in the film version of George Washington Slept Here. According to Benny, Percy Kilbride was the same character offscreen and on: quiet and friendly but principled, refusing to be paid more or less than what he considered a fair salary. Kilbride followed up the Benny film with a featured role in the Olsen and Johnson comedy Crazy House. In 1945, he appeared in The Southerner.

Ma and Pa Kettle

In 1947, he and Marjorie Main appeared in The Egg and I, starring Fred MacMurray and Claudette Colbert as a sophisticated couple taking on farm life. Main and Kilbride were featured as folksy neighbors Ma and Pa Kettle, and audience response prompted the popular Ma and Pa Kettle series. Pa Kettle became Kilbride's most famous role: the gentle-spirited Pa seldom raised his voice, and was always ready to help friends — by borrowing from other friends, or assigning any kind of labor to his Indian friends Geoduck and Crowbar.

Kilbride became ill while filming Ma and Pa Kettle at Waikiki in 1953. Director Lee Sholem cleverly staged new scenes with a stunt double, conserving Kilbride's energy for dialogue and close-ups. The film was finally released in 1955; it was Kilbride's last picture.

Death

On September 21, 1964, Kilbride and his friend and acting colleague, Ralf Belmont, were struck by a car while walking near Kilbride's home, at the corner of Yucca and Cherokee Streets, in Hollywood. Belmont died instantly; Kilbride died three months later from head injuries, having undergone brain surgery on November 11. He was 76 years old and a veteran of World War I. Kilbride was buried near his hometown, San Francisco, at Golden Gate National Cemetery, in San Bruno, California. Kilbride left his estate to four nephews and a sister-in-law.

Partial filmography

References

External links