To the world, George Kennedy was a man of action in films such as “The Dirty Dozen” and “Airport,” and TV Westerns such as “Rawhide” and “Bonanza.” Sandy haired, tall and burly, he was a stalwart Hollywood character actor who often played the heavy, roughing up the likes of Clint Eastwood and Cary Grant.

Kennedy had been in hospice care for the past month, his grandson Cory Schenkel, of Boise, said.

On screen, Kennedy was a physical force, with an keen ability for nuance and emotional depth – the kind of acting chops that won him the 1968 Oscar for best supporting actor in “Cool Hand Luke.” He also had a flair for comedy, gaining a following in the cult-comedy film series “Naked Gun.”.

Schenkel, who works at, would go along when Kennedy needed to travel for work.

Kennedy often seemed as indestructible as the characters he played, but that changed after Joan died, Schenkel said.

Though Kennedy had been ailing, his death took the family by surprise, Schenkel says.

George Kennedy