‘Mama’s Family’ Star Ken Berry Dies At 86

 | Grace Higgins
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Ken Berry who entertained fans for decades has died at 86. Berry was a skilled song and dance man, and was encouraged to enter show business by his good friend Lenard Nimoy. The two became friends when they served in the Army together. Nimoy would go on to find success in ‘Star Trek’ playing ‘Spock’. Berry got his TV break in 1965 playing Captain Wilton Parmenter on the military comedy ‘F Troop’. Other iconic shows soon followed, ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ it’s spin of ‘Mayberry R.F.D.’ and ‘Mama’s Family’ with Vicky Lawrence and Betty White.

An award winning tap dancer, Berry opened for ‘Abbott & Castello’ in Las Vegas before finding success in television. Berry’s first show ‘F Troop’ had him playing bumbling Captain Parmenter, the show had two seasons in 1967 and 1968, but continued to run for decades in syndication. The show is still currently airing on some stations. Berry started playing town counselor Sam Jones on the ‘Andy Grifith show’. The character was so successful Berry went on to star in the spin off ‘Mayberry R.F.D.’ the show ran for 9 seasons, and was the highest rated TV show when it ended.

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Berry was married once to dancer Jackie Joseph from 1960 to 1976, the two remained close throughout the years. They had two children, Berry’s son John Berry was a musician with the Indie rock band ‘Idaho’ he died at 51 of a brain tumor. Joseph informed the ‘Hollywood Reporter’ of Berry’s death of ‘heart issues’. Berry died late Saturday at St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, not far from his Burbank home. The goof ball antics that Berry brought to ‘F Troop’ were created by Berry, he said, “It was something that I could bring to the show. I would choreograph stuff, I would find things on the set or outside that I could use. The ‘F Troop’ scripts would read, “Business to be worked out by Ken.”