TV, Film Comedic Actor Kenneth Mars Dies At 75

GRENADA HILLS, Calif. (AP) — Kenneth Mars, an actor best known for his over-the-top performance as a German playwright in the original movie version of “The Producers,” died on Saturday at his home here. He was 75.

The cause was pancreatic cancer, his family said.

In “The Producers” (1968), written and directed by Mel Brooks, Mr. Mars played Franz Liebkind, a Nazi enthusiast whose play “Springtime for Hitler” is the basis for a scheme by two conniving showmen (Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder) to bilk investors by putting on a sure-fire Broadway flop.

Mr. Brooks also cast Mr. Mars in “Young Frankenstein” (1974) as a police inspector with a malfunctioning artificial arm who is on the trail of the monster (Peter Boyle) created by a descendant of the original Dr. Frankenstein (Mr. Wilder).

Mr. Mars was born in Chicago and appeared on Broadway in “The Affair” in 1962 and on television in “Get Smart,” “Gunsmoke” and other series before being cast in “The Producers,” his first movie. He went on to divide his time between the big and small screens.

He played a marshal tracking the title characters in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” (1969) and a Croatian musicologist in the Barbra Streisand comedy “What’s Up, Doc?” (1972). He also appeared in two Woody Allen films, “Radio Days” (1987) and “Shadows and Fog” (1991).


On television, where his specialty was slightly unhinged foreigners, his long list of credits included “Columbo,” “Murder, She Wrote,” “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” and “Malcolm in the Middle,” where he had a recurring role as a German ranch owner. He also provided voices for numerous cartoon shows.

He is survived by two daughters, Susannah Mars Johnson and Rebecca Mars Tipton, and six grandchildren.

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Carl Schulman says:

February 15, 2011 at 10:07 am

Voodzhtebs, voodzhtebs! (Stamp, stamp) Brilliant casting, brilliant performance. RIP

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