Kenneth Mars
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]
Occupation
  • Actor
Years active1962–2008
Spouse
Barbara Newborn
(m. 1977)
Children2

Kenneth Mars (April 4, 1935 – February 12, 2011)[1] was an American actor. 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) as well as Woody Allen's Radio Days (1987) and Shadows and Fog (1991).

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, as well as its companion 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 (1994–2008) and that of Professor Screweyes in We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story (1993), and King Colbert (Prince Cornelius's father) in Thumbelina (1994). He was also the voice of Tuskernini from Darkwing Duck (1991–1992).

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]

Career

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, Harry O, The Bob Crane Show, and Police Woman.[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 to 1974, 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 recurring role of eccentric William W.D. 'Bud' Prize, from the Fernwood Chamber of Commerce. He continued the role on the revamped 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'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]

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]

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]

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.

In 2008, Mars retired from acting after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer two years prior.[1] His final performance was as Grandpa Longneck in the animated television series The Land Before Time.[1]

Personal life

In 1977, Mars married Barbara Newborn. They had two daughters, Susannah and Rebecca. The marriage lasted until his death in 2011.[1]

Illness and death

In 2006, Mars was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer that had already spread beyond his pancreas.[1] 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 being unable to voice Triton, he also could not voice Grandpa Longneck in The Land Before Time XIII: The Wisdom of Friends. (Littlefoot's Grandpa does appear in the film, but has no lines.) He died on February 12, 2011, at the age of 75.[1]

Filmography

Film

Year Title Role Notes
1963 Act One Robert E. Sherwood
1967 The Producers Franz Liebkind
1969 The April Fools Les Hopkins
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid Marshal
Viva Max! Dr. Sam Gillison
1971 Desperate Characters Otto Bentwood
1972 What's Up, Doc? Hugh Simon
1974 The Parallax View Former FBI Agent Will
Young Frankenstein Police Inspector Hans Wilhelm Friedrich Kemp
1975 Night Moves Nick
1978 Goin' Coconuts Kruse
1979 The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again Marhsal Woolly Bill Hitchcock
1981 Full Moon High Coach Cleveland / Principal Cleveland
1983 Yellowbeard Mr. Crisp & Verdugo (dual role)
1984 Prince Jack Lyndon B. Johnson
Protocol Lou
1985 Fletch Stanton Boyd
Beer Adolphe Norbecker
1986 The Adventures of the American Rabbit Walt / Vultor the Buzzard Voice
1987 Radio Days Rabbi Baumel
1988 For Keeps Mr. Bobrucz
Illegally Yours Hal B. Keeler
Rented Lips Rev. Farrell
1989 Police Academy 6: City Under Siege The Mayor
The Little Mermaid King Triton Voice[6]
1991 Shadows and Fog Armstead the Magician
1993 We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story Professor Screweyes Voice[6]
1994 The Land Before Time II: The Great Valley Adventure Grandpa Longneck Voice, direct-to-video[6]
Thumbelina King Colbert Voice[6]
1995 Rough Magic Magician
The Land Before Time III: The Time of the Great Giving Grandpa Longneck Voice, direct-to-video[6]
1996 Citizen Ruth Dr. Charlie Rollins
The Land Before Time IV: Journey Through the Mists Grandpa Longneck Voice, direct-to-video[6]
Bruno the Kid: The Animated Movie Professor Van Trapp Voice, direct-to-video
1997 The Land Before Time V: The Mysterious Island Grandpa Longneck Voice, direct-to-video[6]
1998 The Land Before Time VI: The Secret of Saurus Rock
2000 The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea King Triton
The Land Before Time VII: The Stone of Cold Fire Grandpa Longneck
2001 The Land Before Time VIII: The Big Freeze
2002 The Land Before Time IX: Journey to Big Water
Teddy Bears' Picnic Gene Molinari
2003 The Land Before Time X: The Great Longneck Migration Grandpa Longneck Voice, direct-to-video[6]
2005 The Land Before Time XI: Invasion of the Tinysauruses
2006 The Land Before Time XII: The Great Day of the Flyers

Television

Year Title Role Notes
1967 Gunsmoke Clyde Hayes Episode: "The Returning"
1967–68 He & She Harry Zarakartos 21 episodes
1968–70 The Ghost & Mrs. Muir Joshua T. Albertson / Ellsworth Gordon 2 episodes
1973 Hawkins Lester De Ville Episode: "Murder in Movieland"
Guess Who's Sleeping in My Bed? Mitchell Bernard Television film
1974 Hello Mother, Goodbye! Television pilot
1975 Wonder Woman Colonel Von Blasko Episode: "The New Original Wonder Woman"
It's a Bird...It's a Plane...It's Superman Max Mencken Television special
1977 Columbo Mike Episode: "The Bye-Bye Sky High I.Q. Murder Case"
Fernwood 2 Night William W.D. "Bud" Prize 8 episodes
Baa Baa Black Sheep Harold French Episode: "Five the Hard Way"
1978 America 2-Night William W.D. "Bud" Prize 3 episodes
1979 Carol Burnett & Company Various
1980 Hart to Hart Dr. Cobb Episode: "Murder Is a Man's Best Friend"
1981 The Facts of Life Mr. Harris Episode: "Gossip"
1981–89 The Smurfs King Bullrush, additional voices Voice, 21 episodes
1983 The Biskitts Max, Fetch, Snarl Voice
The New Scooby Doo Mysteries Orson Kane Voice, episode: "The Hand of Horror"
1985 Misfits of Science Sen. Donner Episode: "Deep Freeze"
1987–90 DuckTales Vulcan Voice, 2 episodes
1988–91 A Pup Named Scooby-Doo Mr. Trixenstuff, Ghost of McMuttmauler, additional voices Voice, 14 episodes
1989 Get Smart, Again! Cmdr. Drury Television film
1990–91 TaleSpin Heimlich Menudo / Buzz Voice, 3 episodes
1990 Tiny Toon Adventures Flavio Voice, episode: "Hollywood Plucky"[6]
Timeless Tales from Hallmark Mr. Budgeknot Episode: "Thumbelina"
1991 Darkwing Duck Tuskernini Voice, 6 episodes
1992 A Different World Homeless Man Episode: "Honeymoon in L.A.: Part 2"
Captain Planet and the Planeteers Moisha Lowkowitz Voice, episode: "If It's Doomsday, This Must Be Belfast"

Credited as Ken Mars

1992–94 The Little Mermaid King Triton Voice, 25 episodes
1992 Fievel's American Tails Sweet William Voice, 6 episodes
1993 The Pink Panther The Commissioner Voice, 5 episodes
Bonkers Gloomy Voice, episode: "The Toon That Ate Hollywood"
Animaniacs Beethoven Voice, episode: "Roll Over, Beethoven"[6]
1994 Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Colyus Episode: "Shadowplay"
1994–95 Batman: The Animated Series M2, Richard Voice, 2 episodes[6]
1995 Diagnosis: Murder Walter Carstairs Episode: "How to Murder Your Lawyer"
Freakazoid! Dr. Gunter Hunterhanker Voice, episode: "Candle Jack"[6]
1996 Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman Grant Gendell Episode : "Bob and Carol and Lois and Clark"
The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest Faust Voice, episode: "The Alchemist"[6]
1997 The Drew Carey Show Mr. Tinsley Episode: "Hello/Goodbye"
The Naked Truth Judge Episode: "The Truth"
1997–98 Life with Louie The Mayor / Priest / Rabbi / Doctor Voice, 4 episodes
1997 Police Academy: The Series Dr. Otis P. Quackenbush Episode: "Les Is More"
1998 Godzilla: The Series Dr. Alexander Preloran Voice, episode: "Leviathan"
2001 Becker Melvin Golar 3 episodes
Just Shoot Me! Horst Episode: "Fanny Finch"
2002–04 Malcolm in the Middle Otto Mannkusser 25 episodes
2004 Oliver Beene Carl the Super Episode: "Fallout"
2007 Hannah Montana Gunter the Innkeeper Episode: "School Bully"
2007–08 The Land Before Time Grandpa Longneck Voice, 9 episodes[6]

Video games

Year Title Role
1997 Fallout Vault 13 Overseer[6]
2002 Kingdom Hearts King Triton
2006 Kingdom Hearts II

Discography

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "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, chicagotribune.com; accessed June 27, 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d "Kenneth Mars". TVGuide.com. TV Guide. Retrieved April 24, 2019.
  5. ^ "Henry the First - Kenneth Mars | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "Kenneth Mars (visual voices guide)". Behind The Voice Actors. Retrieved September 10, 2023. A green check mark indicates that a role has been confirmed using a screenshot (or collage of screenshots) of a title's list of voice actors and their respective characters found in its opening and/or closing credits and/or other reliable sources of information.