Monday, December 3, 2018

RIP Captain Wilton Parmenter

(Hollywood) Ken Berry (85), the amiable and musically-talented TV actor of the 1960s and ’70s who starred in “F Troop,” “Mama’s Family” and “Mayberry R.F.D.,” died Saturday.
His former wife, actress Jackie Joseph-Lawrence posted the news on Facebook. “F Troop” co-star Larry Storch wrote on Facebook, “We hope you know how much you were loved. Goodnight Captain.”
Berry played Captain Parmenter on Western sitcom “F Troop” for two years in the mid-1960s.  
Born in Moline, Ill., Berry started out as a singer and dancer. He served in the U.S. Army special services under Sergeant Leonard Nimoy, entertaining the troops and winning a slot on the “Ed Sullivan Show.”
Nimoy helped introduce him to studios after he left the Army, and soon Berry was under contract to Universal to appear in movie musicals. Berry worked in several musical revues, including with Abbott and Costello, and with Lucille Ball. He also worked with Carol Burnett, who later invited him to guest on her show.
After brief stints on “Dr. Kildare” and George Burns-Connie Stevens sitcom “Wendy and Me,” he landed his first regular starring role on “F-Troop.”
Unlike other recent deaths, this one should be free of controversy.
I have no idea what his politics were, which with actors is feature, not a bug.

Famous for nothing particular, except sneezing "Retreat!" and reversing it to "Charge!", resulting in a cinematic Civil War victory, gaining a Medal of Honor, followed by a Purple Heart, and a posting to forlorn Fort Courage, the armpit of the Army (just like every other army post IRL since Valley Forge), for command of the hapless troopers of F-Troop. This resulted in two years' time over 65 episodes interacting with the savvy and formidable Hekawi tribe, in their village just north of Ventura Blvd, just down the street from Stalag 13, and across the lot from Gilligan's Island, at a time in America when the news from the activities of our real Army was far less amusing. Followed by sitcom legendary status in syndication.

We are merely saddened by this milestone marking the passing of time, and the loss of a man who entertained millions, while pissing off pretty much nobody you know.
Which ain't a bad epitaph.

The incorrigible Cpl. Agarn, Larry Storch, soldiers on at the ripe old age of 95, while Private Dobbs, James Hampton, is 82, and living quietly in Texas at last report.
Storch's kind words in remembrance of his former co-star are fitting and touching.

Hand salute.


LL said...

Your tribute is well written and touching. I enjoyed Ken Barry's work and from all accounts he was a very decent man. RIP

Jim Scrummy said...

As a kid, I loved watching F-Troop in syndication. Just good laughs, which happens when you have good writing and actors who could do comedy. I miss those days.

RIP Mr. Berry, enjoyed your work.

Anonymous said...

F Troop was one of those shows that was a pure joy to watch. As a youngster in the '60s I never thought anything particular about the "Hekawi" tribe until years later when I heard the dirty version of the joke.

Even when the laugh was belated, they were still good! R.I.P. Ken Berry!

turnkey said...

He was in one action movie called "The Reluctant Heroes." Pretty good flick.

Pat H. said...

I'm very happy to say I never watched any show he was in, ever. They were all one sappy, saccharin cliché after another. I got that much from the advertisements for them.

Anonymous said...

Jeez pat, enough with the negative waves. If you can't say something nice just STFU.

billrla said...

I was still a bit on the young side during F-Troop's original run to appreciate the humor. I still expected U.S. Army soldiers to get into serious action with the Germans, so, I watched "Combat." It also took me a while to develop a taste for "Hogan's Heros," because being stuck in a German POW seemed like serious business. Looking back, I have a better understanding how many of the actors from these mid-60s shows had actual military and, sometimes, combat experience during WWII, which is why they were so good at making fun of the military. Same goes for great authors, such as Vonnegut and Heller. They were not making stuff up.

A Texan said...

RIP, Mr. Berry, and thanks for the entertainment. That is, alas, a by-gone era when harmless comedies could be made that poked fun at everyone without some group (or several) getting all butt-hurt about it.