Saluting10 Famous Military People or Actors Named Ken

kennethtaylorWhether in reality or fiction, the Kens of the world have had a long and illustrious association with military service. The ten Kens on this list have risen through the ranks of the sea, air and land forces to protect the world from tyranny wherever it rears its head, be it in real life or on the silver screen.

  1. Ken Curtis – Better known as popular deputy Festus Haggen from the hit show Gunsmoke, Ken Curtis has a number of associations with the armed forces throughout his acting career. On Curtis’ own record, “Gunsmoke’s Festus Haggen Calls out Ken Curtis,” he alludes to Haggen’s history as a confederate soldier. Other military roles for Ken include The Horse Soldiers, as Cpl Wilkie, and a part in The Wings of Eagles, where he played the real life navy Admiral, John Dale Price.
  2. Kenneth M. Taylor – This decorated military man is a recipient of both the Distinguished Service Cross and the Purple Heart for his part in shooting down four Japanese dive bombers during the attack on Pearl Harbor. In 1970, Taylor was again honored for his heroics in the successful Hollywood depiction of Pearl Harbor, Tora! Tora! Tora! In 2006, Ken – a great American hero – sadly passed away from hernia complications.
  3. Kenneth O’Donnell – After serving three years in the US Army Air Corps, Kenneth O’Donnell took his first steps towards a high level political career when he met Robert Kennedy during his time studying at Harvard. The two men were roommates, which led to a lifelong friendship and political allegiance. Kenneth became a close aide to both Robert and John F. Kennedy, and served as Lyndon Johnson’s Presidential Aide between 1963 and 1965.
  4. Ken Hicks – One of the most successful CEO’s in American retail history, Ken Hicks attributes much of his success to his time spent in post-Vietnam military service. Hicks has held roles as both the CEO of Foot Locker and the president and chief merchandising officer of J.C. Penney. In an interview referring to his experience in the army, Ken is quoted as saying, “So I learned that you’re very dependent on your people to be their best. You train and develop and motivate them.”
  5. Kenneth Lay – The infamous Enron Business executive, who was found guilty on six counts of conspiracy and fraud in 2006, was once a proud military man, having served in the U.S. Navy from 1968 to 1971. Unfortunately, Lay’s military service was marred by the Enron collapse, which cost 20,000 employees their jobs and investors billions in cash losses.
  6. Ken Summers – The pride of the Canadian Naval Forces, Ken Summers played a number of pivotal roles throughout the Gulf War. He is the only Canadian admiral to command a “total” national contingent in war by directing both land and air forces in the Middle East during the Gulf War. These achievements alone are enough to cement Ken Summers’ place as one of the world’s most decorated military leaders.
  7. Kenneth Ahrens – Kenneth Ahrens is one of around 35 soldiers who survived the Malmédy Massacre, a war crime that took place on December 17, 1944 during the battle of the Bulge. 85 U.S. soldiers were cut down by the German SS after they had already surrendered. After the war, Ahren provided important evidence in the trial, which helped lead to the capture and conviction of a number of German war criminals.
  8. Ken Norton – One of the few and perhaps most unlikely men to defeat the great Muhammad Ali in the ring, Ken Norton learned to box during his military career. Norton broke Ali’s jaw in the second round of their first fight, before eventually winning a decision in the bout. The two men went on to fight twice more, with Ali winning narrow decisions in both rematches.
  9. Ken Berry – The army practically ushered Ken Berry into a successful television career when his sergeant announced a talent contest on base. Berry, with tap shoes in hand, won the competition without breaking a sweat, and later went on to star alongside Andy Griffith in F Troop and The Andy Griffith Show spin-off, Mayberry R.F.D. Berry is renowned as being a multi-talented performer, listing dancing, singing and acting in his repertoire of skills.
  10. Ken Jenkins – Before playing Doctor Bob Kelso on popular sit-com “Scrubs,” Ken made a bit of a trademark playing the role of military men. Some of his noted performances include General Kubrick in Five Minutes to Midnight, Admiral Pollack in The Sum of All Fears, and NSA Agent Moore in Clockstoppers.