Michael Phillips

Remembering George Kennedy, and the snow of 'Airport'

Remembering George Kennedy, and the snow of 'Airport'

My first, indelible movie image of a terrible midwestern blizzard has George Kennedy’s face on it, which made it seem like nothing, really.

On Sunday the Oscar winning Kennedy died, according to his grandson’s Facebook post. There should be a special place in the afterlife for character actors like Kennedy, a celestial dressing room where there are no “No Smoking” signs, and all the reliable, familiar utility men and women who’ve passed on can enjoy each other’s stories about everybody they worked with in the industry.

Kennedy won his supporting actor Oscar for “Cool Hand Luke” (1967). I didn’t come to that Paul Newman vehicle until much later. My first encounter with Kennedy,...