Edd Byrnes, star of Grease and ’50s/’60s TV show 77 Sunset Strip has died aged 87.
Byrnes is remembered for his role as charismatic radio announcer Vince Fontaine in the 1978 film, and as slick-haired parking lot attendant Kookie in the ABC detective drama, respectively.
The actor’s son, Logan Byrnes, confirmed the news yesterday (January 9) via Facebook. He said his father died at his home in Santa Monica.
It is with profound sadness and grief to share with you the passing of my father Edd Byrnes.His is the story of an…
Variety writes that Byrnes’ portrayal of Kookie (Gerald Kookson III) in 77 Sunset Strip “introduced a host of early ’60s slang into mainstream primetime culture.”
It continued: “The Kookie character took on more fame when Byrnes teamed with Connie Stevens on a novelty record — ‘Kookie, Kookie (Lend Me Your Comb)’ — for the then-newly formed Warner Bros. Records, that climbed the charts in 1959. Byrnes also appeared as Kookie in crossover episodes with fellow Warner Bros./ABC dramas Hawaiian Eye and Surfside 6. Stevens was a co-star of Hawaiian Eye.”
Logan wrote further that his father came to New York City in his early 20s with “a few hundred dollars and a dream of making it big in the entertainment business.”
Before Sunset Strip, Byrnes’ portfolio of TV dramas included Wire Service, Navy Log and Crossroads.
Later, Byrnes had guest spots on series including Charlie’s Angels, Married With Children and Murder, She Wrote, among many others.
In 1996 Byrnes published an autobiography called Kookie No More in which he detailed his long struggle with alcoholism.