(Courtesy of Fabian Cepeda)
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
Full name: John Joseph Kenney
appeared in at least 20 westerns and 6 serials (and that will go higher
if/when the mixup on our two "Jack Kenney/Kenny's" gets resolved).
Jack Kenney played character and heavy roles in silents. In sound films, he was most often a background performer appearing as a townsman, barfly, etc. His film career spanned 35+ years, from approximately 1925 - early 1960s.
In addition to some B western appearances, you can also spot him (and his beard) in various A grade oaters including the SOUTH OF ST. LOUIS (Warner Bros., 1949), MY DARLING CLEMENTINE (20th Century Fox, 1946), MAN BEHIND THE GUN (Warner Bros., 1953) ... and he was among the dozens of players in the saloon scene in the Doris Day CALAMITY JANE (Warner Bros., 1953).
There is confusion with Kenny's first name as well as the spelling of his last name. The California Death Records database has a record for: Jack Kenney, born 11/16/1886 in Illinois, Mother's maiden name of Howard, and he passed away in the Los Angeles area on 5/26/1964. The Social Security Death Index (SSDI) has his name as John Kenny.
The Kenney/Kenny last name variation began in the silent era. Author and film expert Ken Jones had a copy of the June, 1925 The Screen Artist book which lists names and telephone numbers for performers. In that publication, Jack Kenney is under the "heavy men" category and Jack Kenny is listed under "character men". Both listings refer to the same VErmont 5555 telephone number.
Although some of the data may be incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on Jack Kenney: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0448477/
The Family Search website (free) and Ancestry (subscription) have information on Jack Kenney:
- 1920 census: John J. Kenney is a lodger residing in Los Angeles (and incorrectly listed as female): https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MHQK-XK8
- 1920 census takers worksheet was available on ancestry: John J. Kenney reports his occupation as "Actor - Motion Pictures". He is 33 years old, single, and a lodger at 317 South Flower Street in Los Angeles. His father was born in Ireland and his mother in Kentucky. In the male/female column, Kenney is "F".
- 1930 census: 43 year old John J. Kenney, 35 year old wife Grace C. and 15 year old stepson Raymond are living in Los Angeles: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XCV7-ZRP
- 1930 census takers worksheet was available on ancestry: John J. Kenney is 43 years old and occupation is "Actor - Movie Studio". His father was born in Ireland and his mother in Kentucky. He and 35 year old wife Grace C. and 15 year old stepson Raymond own their home at 4015 W. 30 in Los Angeles.
- 1940 census: 52 year old John J. Kenney (born Illinois) and 41 year old wife Bryn Kenney (born Illinois) reside in Culver City, California. Note that their last name is shown as "Kennery", obviously an error when the census data was converted to a digital record: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/K9WP-S6R
- 1940 census takers worksheet: John and Bryn Kenney own their home at 4171 Madison Avenue in Culver City, California, and they lived there in 1935. Both report their occupations as "Extra actor - Movie Studio". The census taker's recording of "Kenney" does look like "Kennery". (Living a few doors away at 4175 Madison Avenue is western bit player Jim Mason and his wife Lillian): https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-27796-1897-58?cc=2000219&wc=MMYH-K41:452334210
- 1942 World War II draft registration: John Joseph Kenney reports his birth date and location as December 16, 1886 in Chicago, Illinois. His contact is wife Mildred Bryn Kenney, and they reside at 4171 Madison Avenue in Culver City, California. Kenney's employer is "Central Casting Office (Moving Pictures)" in Los Angeles: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-16386-63315-55?cc=1861144&wc=MMRW-1TG:n1651868218
- California Voter Registrations are available on ancestry. John J. Kenney (occupation actor) and wife Bryn Kenney (occupation actress) are on several voter registrations. Appears they moved to Culver City circa 1940:
1936 and 1938 - their address is 401 S. Witmer Street in Los Angeles.
1940, 1942 and 1948 - their address is 4171 Madison Avenue in Culver City.
In August, 2011, ye Old Corral webmeister connected with Sharon Poling who wrote:
"... my grandparents lived next door to Jack Kenney in Culver City, California for many years. When I was a little girl, the neighborhood kids and I liked to visit Jack in his garage "man cave". He had lined the walls with hundreds of black and white autographed photos of movie stars with whom he had worked. He loved to tell us stories. I recently found a studio photo of Jack when he was a young man in my grandparents' photo albums."
That photo is below and is circa 1925. Sharon also found the 1964 newspaper obituary for Jack J. Kenny. Note the mention of his wife Bryn Mildred Kenny as an actress.
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
Above from L-to-R are Harry Woods, Tom Tyler, Anita Camargo, Jack Kenny, Robert Shayne and Pedro De Cordoba (sometimes spelled Cordova) in the Warners "Santa Fe Trail" two reel short, GUN TO GUN (1944).