60 years after hitting his career peak as “Kookie,” the car-park attendant on 77 Sunset Strip, Edd Byrnes is gone. Hugs and condolences to the crew. Byrnes was 87 years old, if that doesn’t freak you out too much. Death came a callin’ in his Santa Monica home, and that was all she wrote.
On 77 Sunset Strip, Kookie’s full name was Gerald Lloyd Kookson III.
Byrnes had a distinctive supporting role in Grease (’78), playing an amiable Dick Clark-like host of National Bandstand. I spoke to him a bit during the New York Grease press junket. For what it’s worth he seemed like a nice guy with a sharp mind.
Post-Grease Byrnes was basically Rick Dalton, performing guest shot roles in CHiPs, B.J. and the Bear, House Calls, Charlie’s Angels, Vega$, The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Quincy M.E., The Master, Simon & Simon and Crazy Like a Fox.
Wiki excerpt: “As a tribute to his enduring celebrity and his iconic ‘Kookie’ character, Byrnes has ranked #5 in TV Guide‘s list of ‘TV’s 25 Greatest Teen Idols’. In 1996 Byrnes wrote an autobiography titled “Kookie No More.”
“Glorified in song and fable…you’ll meet the highbrow and the hipster, the starlet and the phony tipster…you’ll find most every kind of gal and guy, including a private eye.”
There will be a hue and cry if the Oscar telecast producers don’t include Byrnes in the death reel. Presumably it won’t be an issue.