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Friday 28 April 2017

Comedy actor Kenneth Mars dies

Kenneth Mars portrays a Hitler-worshipping playwright in a scene from The Producers (AP)
Kenneth Mars portrays a Hitler-worshipping playwright in a scene from The Producers (AP)

Kenneth Mars, a Mel Brooks collaborator who played a Hitler-worshipping playwright in The Producers and an earnest police inspector with a malfunctioning artificial arm in Young Frankenstein, has died.

He was 75.

In a statement, Mars' family said the actor died on Saturday of pancreatic cancer at his home in Grenada Hills.

In Brooks' 1968 romp The Producers, Mars co-starred as 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 con investors by putting on a surefire Broadway flop.

Brooks cast Mars again in 1974's Young Frankenstein as the constable poking around the castle grounds on the trail of mad scientist Wilder's monster.

In both films, the Chicago-born Mars demonstrated his talent for vocal farce, lending over-the-top German accents to the characters.

Mars' nearly 50-year career included a long list of voice credits, including The Little Mermaid, The Jetsons and The Land Before Time movies and TV series.

Among Mars' other film credits were Woody Allen's Radio Days and Shadows and Fog, and Peter Bogdanovich's What's Up, Doc. His extensive television work featured regular roles on Malcolm in the Middle, Fernwood Tonight and the 1960s series He&She.

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

A private funeral service was planned.

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