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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 materNorthwestern University[1]
  • Actor
  • voice actor
  • comedian
Years active1962–2008
Barbara Newborn
(m. 1977)

Kenneth Mars (April 4, 1935 – February 12, 2011)[1] was an American actor, voice actor and comedian, who specialized in comedic roles. He appeared in two Mel Brooks films: as the deranged Nazi playwright Franz Liebkind in The Producers (1967) and Police Inspector Hans Wilhelm Friedrich Kemp in Young Frankenstein (1974).[2] He also appeared in Peter Bogdanovich's What's Up Doc? (1972), and Woody Allen's Radio Days (1987), and Shadows and Fog (1990).

Mars appeared in two seasons of Malcolm in the Middle as Otto Mannkusser, Francis's well-meaning but dimwitted boss and a German immigrant who owns a dude ranch. 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).

Early life

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


After graduation from college Mars began acting in the early 1960s, then did small roles in theatre followed by TV and film.


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.

Mars played Harry Zarakartos on the Richard Benjamin-Paula Prentiss 1967 CBS-TV 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]

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 eccentric William W.D. 'Bud' Prize, from Fernwood's Chamber of Commerce. He continued the role on America 2-Night in 1978. 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

In 1969, Mars portrayed a marshal trying to raise a posse to pursue Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, only to have his address to the townsfolk hijacked by a friendly bicycle salesman. Mars frequently played characters with exaggerated accents. He portrayed German characters in The Producers (1967) and Young Frankenstein (1974), and played a Croatian musicologist, Hugh Simon, in What's Up, Doc? (1972). 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".[5][6]

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 2006, 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).

Personal life and death

In 1977 Mars married Barbara Newborn. They had two daughters, Susannah and Rebecca. The marriage lasted until his death in 2011.[1] He died from pancreatic cancer on February 12, 2011 at the age of 75.[1]




  1. ^ a b c d e f "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. ^ a b c d "Kenneth Mars". TV Guide. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  5. ^
  6. ^

External links

This page was last edited on 22 November 2020, at 08:36
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