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Edd Byrnes

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Also Known As: Edward Byrne Breitenberger, Ed Byrnes, Edward Byrnes, Edward Byrnes Died:
Born: July 30, 1933 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: New York City, New York, USA Profession: actor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

During the late 1950s and early 60s, Edd Byrnes was a bona fide TV star, receiving in excess of 15,000 fan letters a week. As Gerald Lloyd 'Kookie' Kookson III, the jive-talking, ultra-cool parking lot attendant, on the hit ABC series "77 Sunset Strip", the actor created one of the nascent medium's better known characters. Byrnes, however, was unable to translate his small screen success into a lasting career. Despite periodic "comebacks", he has seemingly been relegated to the status of an answer to a trivia question. Born in New York, Byrnes made his professional debut with Joe E Brown's Circus Show. He arrived in L.A. on September 30, 1955, the day James Dean died in an automobile accident. Within two years, he had made his screen debut alongside Anthony Perkins in "Fear Strikes Out" (1957) and went on to supporting roles in such efforts as "Reform School Girl" (also 1957), "Darby's Rangers" (1958), as an uncharacteristically nasty army lieutenant, and "Marjorie Morningstar" (1958). Byrnes was cast as a hired killer in the B-movie "Girl on the Run" (1958) which served as the pilot for "77 Sunset Strip". During filming, the director asked the actor to create a piece of business indicating the...

During the late 1950s and early 60s, Edd Byrnes was a bona fide TV star, receiving in excess of 15,000 fan letters a week. As Gerald Lloyd 'Kookie' Kookson III, the jive-talking, ultra-cool parking lot attendant, on the hit ABC series "77 Sunset Strip", the actor created one of the nascent medium's better known characters. Byrnes, however, was unable to translate his small screen success into a lasting career. Despite periodic "comebacks", he has seemingly been relegated to the status of an answer to a trivia question.

Born in New York, Byrnes made his professional debut with Joe E Brown's Circus Show. He arrived in L.A. on September 30, 1955, the day James Dean died in an automobile accident. Within two years, he had made his screen debut alongside Anthony Perkins in "Fear Strikes Out" (1957) and went on to supporting roles in such efforts as "Reform School Girl" (also 1957), "Darby's Rangers" (1958), as an uncharacteristically nasty army lieutenant, and "Marjorie Morningstar" (1958).

Byrnes was cast as a hired killer in the B-movie "Girl on the Run" (1958) which served as the pilot for "77 Sunset Strip". During filming, the director asked the actor to create a piece of business indicating the character's coolness; Byrnes created what was to become one of his signature moves, whipping out a comb to run through his pompadour. When the series was picked up by ABC, Byrnes was hired to play a carhop who wants to be a detective. Serving as the show's comic relief, the character became noted for his trademark slang (e.g., "the ginchiest" meaning cool or hip, "keep the eyeballs rolling" meaning be on the lookout) and his attention to his looks. Byrnes solidified his teen idol status by recording the 1959 hit single "Kookie, Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb" with Connie Stevens.

Unhappy that the show's producers would not allow him to pursue movie opportunities and stuck a paltry $500 per week salary despite his popularity, Byrnes walked off the show (and was briefly replaced by Troy Donahue). He returned to the show, with his character promoted to partner in the detective agency. When ratings began to decline in 1963, the show was overhauled and the cast (save for Efrem Zimbalist Jr) was replaced. Byrnes soon found that his own popularity was waning. He landed roles in undistinguished motion pictures like "Beach Ball" (1965) and remained active making guest appearances on TV series. Off-screen problems, however, also took their toll. In his 1996 autobiography, Byrnes detailed his addictions to heroin and alcohol. Despite occasional feature work, it was not until 1978 that he landed a role in a hit film; Randal Kleiser added him to the nostalgia-ladened cast of "Grease" in the role of a lecherous disc jockey. Despite the success of the film, Byrnes was unable to translate it into a full-fledged return. His last screen role to date was as a washed-up former movie star in the lackluster comedy "Troop Beverly Hills" (1989).

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Troop Beverly Hills (1989) Ross Coleman
2.
 Mankillers (1987) Jake
3.
 Twirl (1981) Bobby Bennett
4.
 Vega$ (1978) Johnny Crystal
5.
 Grease (1978) Vince Fontaine
6.
 Telethon (1977) Charlie Barton
7.
 Mobile Two (1975) Roger Brice
8.
 Stardust (1975) Tv Interviewer
9.
 Wicked, Wicked (1973) Hank Lassiter
10.
 Payment in Blood (1968) Stuart
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1955:
Moved to Hollywood
1956:
Screen debut, "Fear Strikes Out"
1957:
Breakthrough screen role in "Reform School Girls"
1958:
Appeared in the ABC TV special "Girl on the Run"; the pilot for "77 Sunset Strip"; played character named Kenneth Smiley
1958:
Played regular role of parking lot attendent (later private detective) Gerald 'Kookie' Kookson on "77 Sunset Strip" (ABC)
1959:
Had hit record, "Kookie, Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb", recorded with Connie Stevens
1969:
TV-movie debut, "The Silent Gun" (ABC)
1978:
Returned to features as disc jockey Vince Fontaine in "Grease"
1979:
Was series regular as the emcee of the lottery on the short-lived NBC anthology series "Sweepstakes"
1989:
Last screen appearance to date, "Troop Beverly Hills"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Harren High School: -

Notes

During his career, he has been variously billed as Edward Byrnes and Edd Byrnes.

"I never was the character I portrayed on the series, although I was identified that way." --Byrnes to People Online, July 1997.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Asa Maynor. Actor. Swedish; married in 1962; divorced in 1971.

Family close complete family listing

son:
Logan Byrnes. Lawyer. Born c. 1965.

Bibliography close complete biography

"Edd Byrnes: 'Kookie' No More" Barricade Books

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