Ken Clark (actor)

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Ken Clark
Kenneth Donovan Clark

(1927-06-04)June 4, 1927
Neffs, Ohio, United States
DiedJune 1, 2009(2009-06-01) (aged 81)
Rome, Italy
Years active1955–1998

Kenneth Donovan Clark (June 4, 1927 – June 1, 2009) was an American B movie actor. He appeared in movies in the United States and Europe, including the Secret Agent 077 trilogy, South Pacific, and a number of Spaghetti Westerns.

Early years[edit]

Clark was born in Neffs, Ohio. He enlisted in the Navy when he was 17, and after being honorably discharged, he sought a career as an actor. When that effort was unsuccessful, he found employment as a model and as a construction worker. He also worked as a coal miner in the mid 1950s near Cadiz Ohio.[1]

Acting career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Clark was originally contracted to 20th Century Fox.[2] While working for that studio, he acquired a reputation as a “beefcake” actor similar to Richard Egan.[2] He appeared in a variety of genres of film, including crime (Six Bridges to Cross), Western (The Last Wagon), and war film (Between Heaven and Hell ).[3] Additionally, in one of his final roles for Fox, he appeared in Elvis Presley’s debut motion picture, Love Me Tender.[2] Fox dropped Clark following that picture, and his roles in the following years were often in lower-budget films.

Clark's most prominent role in American film came in 1958, when he was cast as Stewpot in South Pacific, an adaptation of the Broadway musical. His vocals were dubbed by Thurl Ravenscroft.[4][5] Following the film’s premiere, the New York Times described Clark’s character as a “raffish gob.”[6]

During this period, Clark made many guest star appearances on a variety of American TV shows, including four appearances on Alfred Hitchcock Presents.[7] In 1959, he made an unsold private investigator TV pilot for a William Campbell Gault-inspired mystery series entitled Brock Callahan,[8] directed by Don Siegel and written by Stirling Silliphant. That same year, he made a guest appearance in an episode of Western TV series Colt .45.[7] During this period Clark had the lead in Attack of the Giant Leeches (1959) and 12 to the Moon (1960).[7] The former is regarded by some as Clark’s “most memorable film.”[2]

1960s: Agent 077[edit]

During the 1960s and 1970s, like many other American actors Clark went to Italy appearing in several sword and sandal films, Spaghetti Westerns and Eurospy films, including the Hercules film The Son of Hercules in the Land of Darkness, starring fellow American actor Dan Vadis, in 1963.[9]

In 1965, Clark originated the role of Secret Agent Dick Mallory in the Agent 077 trilogy modeled on James Bond.[10][11] In one of the pictures from that trilogy, From the East with Fury, Mallory seeks to rescue a kidnapped nuclear scientist.

1970s: Westerns[edit]

In 1971, Clark appeared alongside James Garner in Un Uomo Chiamo Slitta (translated as A Man Called Sledge).[12]

Personal life and death[edit]

Clark was married to Bette Blatt, whom he met when they were in high school. They had three children and were divorced in 1980.[1]

According to fellow actor Robert Woods, Clark died of a heart attack in Rome, Italy on June 1, 2009, three days before his 82nd birthday, shortly after a taping for a program on the mid 1960s Eurospy genre on the TV series Starcult.

Partial filmography[edit]

Adapted from IMDb and TV Guide.[7][13]


  1. ^ a b Wagner, Laura (Fall 2017). "Ken Clark: Sword and Sandal Star". Films of the Golden Age (90): 48–49.
  2. ^ a b c d "Overview: Ken Clark". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  3. ^ "Overview for Ken Clark". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  4. ^ Hayes, John (Ed.). "The Tale of South Pacific". Wide Screen Movies Magazine. Archived from the original on July 25, 2018. Retrieved July 25, 2018.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  5. ^ Raymond, Jack (1982). Show Music on Record: From the 1890s to the 1980s. F. Ungar. ISBN 978-0-8044-5774-3.
  6. ^ Crowther, Bosley (March 20, 1958). "The Screen: An Enchanted Evening; South Pacific' Has Criterion Premiere". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  7. ^ a b c d Ken Clark Filmography at IMDb
  8. ^ Terrace, Vincent (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010 (2nd ed.). Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. p. 138. ISBN 978-0-7864-6477-7.
  9. ^ Ercole l'invincibile (Hercules the Invincible) (Son of Hercules in the Land of Darkness) (1964), retrieved June 8, 2020
  10. ^ Adinolfi, Francesco (April 25, 2008). Mondo Exotica: Sounds, Visions, Obsessions of the Cocktail Generation. Duke University Press. ISBN 978-0-8223-8908-8.
  11. ^ Lisanti, Tom; Paul, Louis (April 10, 2002). Film Fatales: Women in Espionage Films and Television, 1962-1973. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-1194-8.
  12. ^ A Man Called Sledge (1971), retrieved June 8, 2020
  13. ^ "Ken Clark | TV Guide". Retrieved June 8, 2020.

External links[edit]