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Ken Berry, Star Of TV Classics ‘Mama’s Family’ And ‘F-Troop,’ Dead at 85

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) – Ken Berry, the amiable and musically-talented TV actor of the 1960s and ’70s who starred in “F Troop,” “Mama’s Family” and “Mayberry R.F.D.,” died Saturday.

His former wife, actress Jackie Joseph-Lawrence posted the news on Facebook. “F Troop” co-star Larry Storch wrote on Facebook, “We hope you know how much you were loved. Goodnight Captain.”

Berry played Captain Parmenter on Western sitcom “F Troop” for two years in the mid-1960s.

On “Mama’s Family,” he played Vinton Harper on the “Carol Burnett Show” spinoff, which starred Vicki Lawrence, Rue McClanahan and Betty White. The sitcom ran two seasons on NBC in 1983 and 1984, and two years later was revived in syndication, where it was a hit and ran until 1990.

Berry appeared as widowed farmer Sam Jones on “The Andy Griffith Show” and transitioned into the lead as the show spun off as “Mayberry R.F.D.”

“Mayberry R.F.D.” ran from 1968 to 1971, when the folksy smalltown sitcom was canceled as more contemporary shows such as “All in the Family” came on the air.

He also appeared in comedy films “Herbie Rides Again” and “The Cat From Outer Space” and made frequent guest appearances on shows including “The Golden Girls,” “Love Boat,” “Fantasy Island” and “CHiPs.”

Born in Moline, Ill., Berry started out as a singer and dancer. He served in the U.S. Army special services under Sergeant Leonard Nimoy, entertaining the troops and winning a slot on the “Ed Sullivan Show.”

Nimoy helped introduce him to studios after he left the Army, and soon Berry was under contract to Universal to appear in movie musicals. Berry worked in several musical revues, including with Abbott and Costello, and with Lucille Ball. He also worked with Carol Burnett, who later invited him to guest on her show.

After brief stints on “Dr. Kildare” and George Burns-Connie Stevens sitcom “Wendy and Me,” he landed his first regular starring role on “F-Troop.”

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