Monday, February 14, 2011

KENNETH MARS 1936 - 2011

No more obituaries for a while, please. Kenneth Mars is gone, passed away from pancreatic cancer at the age of 75. He had a near-50 year career full of brilliant voice work on films like The Little Mermaid and TV shows like The Jetsons, and he graced films and TV series as varied as What’s Up, Doc?, Night Moves, Barney Miller, Fernwood Tonight, Citizen Ruth and Woody Allen’s Radio Days, to name but a very few.

But he will likely most fondly be remembered for two appearances in films by Mel Brooks. His first impression for Brooks came as the slightly unhinged Franz Liebkind, author of the unexpectedly popular Springtime for Hitler in The Producers (1968). (“Hitler... there was a painter! He could paint an entire apartment in one afternoon! Two coats!”) But for me, Mars’ great contribution to the cinema and to my lasting and enriched memory came when he essayed the role of Inspector Kemp, man of the law, foil to Gene Wilder's mad doctor and inciter of torch-bearing mobs, in Brooks’s peerless horror parody Young Frankenstein (1974). Mars’ inspired linguistic manglings are the one thing in that movie, no matter my mood, no matter how tired I may be of other bits in the film, guaranteed to set my laugh reflex off with no reasonable expectation of stopping. In memory of this marvelous comic actor, I give you, courtesy of The Inspector Kemp Experience, my two favorite moments in the career of Kenneth Mars:

“He vill gurse der dahh zhat he vass bern a Frankenschtein!”

“Following in his grandfadder's footschtaps!” (In this clip, nothing tickles me more than his delivery of the line “And we had better make damn sure…”)

Rest in peace, Mr. Mars, and let God make you giggle every once in a while for a change.



le0pard13 said...

Same here, Dennis. Inspector Kemp is one of those roles that makes one grand impression. May he rest in peace.

Andreas said...

When I think of Kenneth Mars, the absolute first thing that comes to mind is his repetition of the word "FOOTSCHTAPS!"

He was such a delightful, always very funny man. He will be sorely missed.

blankemon said...

My favorite Kenneth Mars moment is his Franz Liebkind, unable to shoot Mostel, Wilder or even himself, then sadly sighing "Oh boy, when things go wrong..." On paper, that joke could go either way. Mars played it brilliantly.

Seerina said...

He was one of those actors that made the most out his roles. A secondary charactor that would steal the show. A class act. RIP I think I just heard god chuckle!