It was on this day, September 3, 1922, American screenwriter and director Burt Kennedy was born in Muskegon, Michigan. Born into a family of performers, Kennedy was part of their act, “The Dancing Kennedys” from infancy.
After serving in World War II in the 1st Cavalry Division and becoming a decorated military officer, Kennedy joined the Pasadena Community Playhouse, but was let go after one play as an actor for missing rehearsal.
He found work writing radio programs such as “Hash Knife Hartley” and “The Used Story Lot”, then used his training as a cavalry officer to secure a job as a fencing trainer and fencing stunt double in films.
Kennedy was then hired by John Wayne’s Batjac Productions to write 13 episodes for a television program, “Juan and Diablo”, with plans for Wayne’s contract player Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez to star. Although the TV program was never produced, Kennedy was kept on at Batjac to write films for producer Wayne.
Kennedy’s initial effort, Seven Men from Now (1956), was a superb western, the first of the esteemed collaboration between director Budd Boetticher and star Randolph Scott. Kennedy wrote most of that series, as well as a number of others for Batjac. It would be nearly 20 years before Wayne actually appeared in the film of a Kennedy script
In 1960 Kennedy directed a western, The Canadians (1961), but it was a critical failure.
After becoming a film director, Kennedy moved on to also write for western television programs. which he wrote and directed. This included episodes of Lawman (1958), The Virginian (1962) and most notably Combat! (1962).
He returned to films in 1965 with the successful The Rounders (1965), later producing and directing the pilot for the TV series of the same name