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The thing about Kenny is that he had no ego. There was nothing pushy about him — he was just one of the sweetest souls. I don’t think he had any idea how talented he was.
A lot of people only know him from F Troop or Mama’s Family, but he was a phenomenal song-and-dance man. He was funny, he was sexy — he was the whole ball of wax.
I first saw him in 1960 when he was doing The Billy Barnes Review. I was on The Garry Moore Show back then, and I told Garry we had to have this guy on the program. So Garry flew Ken in from L.A. And then, a year before I got my CBS show in 1967, I did a special — Carol and Company — and my guests were Rock Hudson, Frank Gorshin and Ken Berry.
On my TV show, he became one of my favorite guests — we had him on 19 or 20 times. I remember once Ken did a spoof of Fred Astaire singing “Puttin’ on the Ritz.” Afterward, I heard from Fred: “That kid is terrific!”
I just think Kenny was born too late. If he had been born in the days of the MGM musicals, he would have been a huge movie star.
This story appears in the Dec. 5 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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