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Unkempt, rough and tough looking members of the gang, or lynch mob, or vigilantes, or posse riders, or cow herders. They had minimal or no dialog, not much screen time, and were generally not listed in the film credits. Some would show up as a face in the crowd, portraying townspeople, barflys, deputies, wagon drivers, ranch hands, etc. We tend to recognize some of their faces, but have no clue as to their real names.


Two guys named Kenney - one with a beard and one that likes cigars.





(Courtesy of Fabian Cepeda)
 
(Courtesy of Les Adams)


Jack Kenney/Kenny
Full name: John Joseph Kenney
1886-1964
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 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 our "bearded" Jack Kenney:

  • 1920 census - 33 year old John J. Kenney (born Illinois) 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 (born Illinois), 35 year old wife Grace C. (born Colorado) and 15 year old stepson Raymond (born Washington) 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". He answers "No" to the are you a military veteran question. His father was born in Ireland and his mother in Kentucky. They 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 this 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.
  • The California Death Index 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.

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 Sharon Poling)


The Social Security Death Index (SSDI) had a record on: Bryn Kenney, born November 4, 1898, and passed away in California in December, 1983.

The California Death Records database has a record for: Mildred Kenney, born 11/4/1898 in Illinois, Mother's maiden name of Pederson, and she passed away in the Los Angeles area on 12/9/1983.



Right - the 1964 funeral notice on Jack Kenny from an unidentified newspaper.

(Courtesy of Sharon Poling)



(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).







(Courtesy of Jack Tillmany)

Jack Kenney
Real name: Jacob Kenovitz/Kenovitch
1902-1961

Above are 1956 and 1960 casting directory blurbs on another Jack Kenney, who appears to like cigars ... and because of his name, he gets confused with our "bearded guy" Jack Kenney/Kenny. The end result of this confusion is the Internet Movie Database listings for our two Jack Kenneys are askew, out of whack, fouled up.

I spotted him recently in a serial and some westerns:

  • he's the tractor salesman chatting with Smiley Burnette in Gene Autry's THE OLD BARN DANCE (Republic, 1938).
  • he's one of the employees at June Storey's guest ranch in Autry's BLUE MONTANA SKIES (Republic, 1939).
  • he was Army Sergeant puffing on a cigar in Autry's IN OLD MONTEREY (Republic, 1939).
  • he was a uniformed Police Lieutenant in Chapter 2 of DICK TRACY VS. CRIME INC. (Republic, 1941).
  • he was a sheriff/deputy in OKLAHOMA TERRITORY (United Artists, 1960) which starred Bill Williams.
  Although some of the data may be incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on this Jack Kenney: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0448585

The Family Search website (free), Ancestry.com (subscription), ProQuest obituaries and the death certificate provide more on Jacob/Jack Kenovitz/Kenovitch, AKA Jack Kenney:

  • 1920 census - living in Arlington, Middlesex County, Massachusetts are 38 year old Julius Kenovitch (born Russia), his 39 year old wife Celia (born Russia), 17 year old son Jacob (born Russia) and two other sons and one daughter:https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MXBJ-SX4
  • 1930 census - living in Arlington, Middlesex County, Massachusetts are 50 year old Julius Kenovitch (born Russia), his 51 year old wife Celia (born Russia), 26 year old son Jack (born Russia) and two other sons and one daughter: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XQGL-532
  • U.S. Naturalization Record, Petition 51337 (and a name change to Jack Kenney): 33 year old Jacob Kenovitz; lives at 6655 Franklin Avenue, Hollywood California; born Vladimritz, Russia, December 5, 1902; occupation is actor. Ancestry had several records, including the (longish) petition. Family Search has two records relating to the name change from Jacob Kenovitz to Jack Kenney:
    June 12, 1936 petition: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-14826-29033-13?cc=1849628
    November 13, 1936 approval: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-14860-61962-33?cc=1849628&wc=M99X-S7W:1790091412
  • California Voter Registrations are available on ancestry for Jack A. Kenney (occupation actor) and he's listed alone (single):
    1940 - his address is 1970 N. Beachwood Drive in Los Angeles.
    1942 and 1946 - his address is 6814 Iris Circle in Los Angeles.
    Using other names on that 1940 voter list, I located 1940 census details for the 1900 block of N. Beachwood Drive in Los Angeles. That 1970 N. Beachwood Drive address was owned by Odette Durand, 53 year old female who resides there with her 19 year old son David. Alas - our Jack A. Kenney is not present in that census record.
  • Death certificate: Jack Kenney, was born in Russia on an unknown date and is about 58 years old. He died on January 27, 1961 at his home at 1930 N. Whitley, Los Angeles; cause of death was coronary arteriosclerosis and there was an investigation by the coroner. He was never married and his last occupation was "Song Writer-Motion Pictures". Parents were Julius Kenovitch (born Russia) and Celia Glassman (born Russia). Death certificate informant was Schlossberg Mortuary, Boston, Massachusetts and burial at Tifereth Israel Cemetery, Everett, Massachusetts.
  • The California Death Records Index mirrors the death certificate - Jack Kenney, born in the USSR, mother's maiden name of Glassman, and he passed away on January 27, 1961 in the Los Angeles area.
  • There was a death notice in a Saturday, January 28, 1961 California newspaper (and no mention of next of kin). Extract: "Hollywood - Veteran vaudeville actor John Albert Kenney, 59, died Friday night at his home ...".
  • There was a (brief) funeral notice in a January 29, 1961 Los Angeles Times newspaper. Extract:"KENNEY, Jack - Services and interment Boston, Mass ... "

Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website confirms that Jack Kenney is interred at Tifereth Israel of Everett Memorial Park, Everett, Middlesex County, Massachusetts: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=155541545



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