As a shortened version of the Celtic name Kenneth, which is believed to be either an anglicized version of the Pictish name Ciniod or the Goidelic name Cináed, Ken means “handsome; good-looking; fair. The standalone name “Ken” means “clear water” in Welsh, “strong; physically healthy” in Scottish, or “royal obligation” in Japanese. While they all come from different walks of life and backgrounds, these thirty “Kens” and “Kenneths” have one thing in common: reasonably successful careers in Hollywood as actors or producers.
- Sir Kenneth Branagh – Nominated for multiple Academy Awards for both acting and directing, Kenneth Branagh is originally from Northern Ireland. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Valkyrie are among his more notable projects.
- Ken Mok – A television producer whose projects include America’s Next Top Model, Stylista, Pussycat Dolls Present: Girlicious, Making the Band and Kitchen Makeover, Ken Mok has a number of successful shows under his belt. He also produced a major motion picture, Invincible.
- Ken Jeong – This Detroit-born funnyman is most well known for his role as Mr. Chow in The Hangover and The Hangover Part II, but his cameo in the Judd Apatow-helmed Knocked Up allowed him to play a medical doctor, a degree he actually holds.
- Ken Kirzinger – The slasher film had it’s heyday in the Eighties, and the iconic hockey mask worn by Jason Voorhees in the Friday the Thirteenth franchise was almost universally known. The man behind the mask, Ken Kirzinger, brought the eerie character to shambling life.
- Ken Stott – While he may not be so well known on the American side of the pond, Scottish-born Ken Stott has enjoyed a long career in the United Kingdom as a television and silver screen actor.
- Ken Wantanabe – A well-known actor in both the United States and his native Japan, Ken Watanabe is an Academy Award nominee and a two-time winner of the Japan Academy Prize for Best Actor.
- Ken Leung – Roles in the television series Lost and films like X-Men: The Last Stand, Saw, Rush Hour and Shanghai Kiss, Ken Leung is a New York-born actor who discovered his love for the craft at NYU.
- Ken Curtis – While Ken Curtis was a singer, he was most often recognized for his role in the television classic Gunsmoke as Festus Haggen.
- Ken Olin – Part of the ensemble cast for the hit television show thirtysomething, Ken Olin has also acted as a producer and director in Hollywood. He was a recurring guest, director and executive producer for the series Brothers & Sisters, which ran from 2006-2011.
- Ken Howard – Elected National President of the Screen Actors Guild in September of 2009, Ken Howard has been a working member of the SAG for more than four decades, won both Tony and Emmy Awards and made his film debut opposite Liza Minnelli in Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon.
- Ken Jenkins – While he’s been a reasonably successful actor since 1969, Ken Jenkins is perhaps best known for his role as the irascible Chief of Medicine, Bob Kelso, on the long-running series Scrubs.
- Ken Berry – Starring in such hit television shows as F-Troop, The Andy Griffith Show, Mayberry RFD and Mama’s Family, Ken Berry is a “triple threat” dancer/singer/actor originally from Moline, Illinois.
- Ken Burns – Known for producing and directing documentary films, Ken Burns has been nominated for two Academy Awards and is the recipient of multiple Emmy Awards for his work.
- Ken Marshall – Known to Trekkies as the actor who brought Michael Eddington to live on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Kenneth Marshall also worked with Brooke Shields on the film Tilt.
- Ken Baumann – While he may be most well-recognized for his role as Ben Boykewich on The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Ken Baumann is also a published author, the owner of a nonprofit publishing company and an angel investor in a learning platform startup.
- Ken Hudson Campbell – A television and voice actor, Ken Hudson Campbell’s projects include Down Periscope, episodes of Seinfeld, the Disney film Under Wraps, Hollywood blockbuster Armageddon, Groundhog Day and the voice of the titular character on the series Baby Bob.
- Ken Wahl – While “Ken Wahl” is a stage name for the actor born Anthony Calzaretta adopted from the name of the man who saved his father’s life during the Korean War, the actor did bring some measure of fame to the moniker in the 1980s and 1990s. The winner of a Golden Globe award and recipient of an Emmy nomination, Wahl now spends his time as an impassioned animal rights activist.
- Ken Weatherwax – Ken Weatherwax now works primarily as a studio grip or set builder, but he was once the face of Pugsley Addams on the cult classic series The Addams Family.
- Ken Duken – A German actor who is popular primarily in Europe, Ken Duken is recognized by American audiences for his turn in the Quentin Tarantino flick Inglorious Basterds.
- Ken Davitian – An Armenian-American actor, Ken Davitian’s popularity peaked when he starred in the film Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. Davitian also starred a a series of music videos, including The Smashing Pumpkin’s “Stand Inside Your Love.”
- Ken Kercheval – This Indiana actor has seen his share of roles in a career that stretches over almost a half a century, but is probably most well known for his portrayal of Cliff Barnes on the soapy hit Dallas and its short-lived 2012 reboot.
- Ken Osmond – Beginning his acting career at the tender age of four, Ken Osmond has worked steadily since the late 1940s. His most recognizable role, however, was Eddie Haskell on the classic 1950s series Leave It to Beaver, and the 1980s revival The New Leave It to Beaver.
- Ken Daly – An actor in hit films like The Usual Suspects, The Karate Kid and Survival Quest, Ken Daly has also worked extensively on a variety of television series and acted as a producer for several projects.
- Kenny Bordes – With roles in both major motion pictures and a film made for television, Kenny Bordes is Louisiana-born actor who has worked with stars like Susan Sarandon and Burt Reynolds.
- Kenneth Ehrlich – As the producer of the Grammy Awards telecasts, Ken Ehrlich was the creative mastermind behind the historic reunion of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, the Police and conceptualized the infamous Eminem and Elton John duet.
- Ken Sanzel – The consulting producer on the hit television series Numb3rs and executive producer of the short-running Blue Bloods, Kent Sanzel also has credits as a writer and director under his belt.
- Kenneth Schwenker – A producer, Ken Schwenker works primarily within the horror film genre. He’s produced films like Runners, Lords of the Underworld and Shadows in Paradise.
- Kenneth Utt – An Academy Award winner for Best Picture, producer Kenneth Utt worked on films like The French Connection, All That Jazz, Something Wild and Philadelphia. He’s most well known for his work on the Oscar-winning cult smash Silence of the Lambs.
- Ken Atchity – An Emmy-nominated producer, Ken Atchity is the founder of Atchity Productions and Story Merchant services for writers. Films he’s produced include Hysteria, Expatriate and The Lost Valentine.
- Ken G. Hall – Widely considered one of the most important people in the Australian film industry, Ken G. Hall was awarded the Order of the British Empire for his services to the “Australian motion picture industry.”
Joe Thompson says
Thank you, Kenney. Making lists of famous Kens is a nice idea. If do a sequel to the list of actors, I recommend the two Kenneth MacDonalds. The American Kenneth played bad guys in many Three Stooges movies and westerns. The British Kenneth was in many television shows from the 1970s through the 1990s.