Kenneth McMillan (actor)

Kenneth McMillan (July 2, 1932 – January 8, 1989) was an American actor. McMillan was usually cast as gruff, hostile and unfriendly characters due to his rough image. However, he was sometimes cast in some lighter roles that highlighted his more benign side.

Kenneth McMillan
Born(1932-07-02)July 2, 1932
DiedJanuary 8, 1989(1989-01-08) (aged 56)
Years active1969–1989


Personal life

McMillan was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Margaret and Harry McMillan, a truck driver.[1] He attended Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts. Prior to becoming an actor, McMillan was employed at Gimbels Department Store first as a salesman, then as a section manager, and then a floor superintendent managing three floors.[2] At age 30, McMillan decided to pursue an acting career, and took acting lessons from Uta Hagen and Irene Dailey. He was married to Kathryn McDonald (20 June 1969 – 8 January 1989) (his death) with whom he had one child, actress Alison McMillan.


McMillan made his film debut at age 41 with a small role in Sidney Lumet's police drama Serpico. The actor played a borough commander in The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, but often was cast as characters such as a cowardly small town sheriff in Tobe Hooper's 1979 TV mini-series Salem's Lot, a similar law enforcement officer in the 1987 Burt Reynolds film Malone, William Hurt's bitter paraplegic father in Eyewitness, a wily safe cracker in The Pope of Greenwich Village, and a racist fire chief in Ragtime who is memorably told off by the New York City police commissioner, James Cagney. In 1985, he played this city's newly appointed police commissioner in the short lived television crime drama Our Family Honor.

He portrayed the grotesquely obese and gleefully psychotic Baron Vladimir Harkonnen in Dune, the pathetic drunken pop of Aidan Quinn in Reckless and a sleazy high roller gambler in "The Ledge," a segment of the horror anthology film Cat's Eye. Yet he did sometimes end up on the right side of the law, playing Robert Duvall's detective partner in True Confessions and a judge who must rule whether Richard Dreyfuss has the right to die in Whose Life Is It Anyway?.

McMillan was also adept at comedy, giving performances as a baseball club manager in Blue Skies Again, Meg Ryan's corrupt security guard captain dad in Armed and Dangerous and a dotty senile veterinarian in Three Fugitives.

McMillan had a recurring role as Valerie Harper's irate boss Jack Doyle on the TV sitcom Rhoda. Among the TV shows McMillan did guest spots on are Dark Shadows, Ryan's Hope, as a 53rd precinct lieutenant on Kojak, Starsky & Hutch, The Rockford Files, Moonlighting, Lou Grant, Magnum, P.I. and Murder, She Wrote.

Outside of his film and TV credits, McMillan also frequently performed on stage at the New York Shakespeare Festival. He acted in the original Broadway productions of Streamers and American Buffalo. He won an Obie for his performance in the Off-Broadway play Weekends Like Other People.

McMillan died of liver disease at age 56.[2]



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