Born Edward Byrne Breitenberger in New York City on July 30, 1932, charismatic actor Edd Byrnes had a hardscrabble youth. His mother supported the family of five, with his alcoholic father often not contributing to the family income. Byrnes' father was found dead in 1946. Taking up bodybuilding as a teenager, Byrnes was photographed by famed physique photographer Lon of New York in the early 1950s. Upon relocating to Los Angeles in the fall of 1955, Byrnes embarked upon an acting career and began getting small television roles in 1956, credited as Edward Byrnes. His first credited film role came in American International's Reform School Girl (1957; with Gloria Castillo and Yvette Vickers). Soon afterward, he signed with Warner Bros., and the studio wasted little time in putting Byrnes to work on its television programs, including Cheyenne and Lawman and in such films as Johnny Trouble (1957; with Stuart Whitman and Carolyn Jones) and Girl on the Run (1958; with Efrem Zimbalist Jr.). The latter film served as a pilot for the Warner Bros. produced television series 77 Sunset Strip, which premiered on ABC in October 1958. Whereas Byrnes was a hit man in the pilot, for the second episode of the series he was cast as Gerald Lloyd Kookson, otherwise known as 'Kookie,' a streetwise parking lot attendant and informant.

Edd Byrnes and Dick ClarkEdd Byrnes

LEFT: With Dick Clark at the height of Byrnes' popularity in the late 1950s. RIGHT: Early 1960s Warner Bros. photo

Within weeks of the premiere of 77 Sunset Strip, Byrnes proved to be the breakout star of the series and, at its peak, he received more than 10,000 pieces of fan mail per week. However, like many Warner Bros. contract players in the late 1950s, such as Clint Walker and James Garner, Byrnes found his contract to be highly restrictive and low paying; he was making only $500 dollars a week and was forced to refuse roles in big films including Ocean's Eleven (1960). After threatening to walk out, as Walker and Garner had, Warner Bros. acquiesced to his salary demands and beefed up his role on the series. But his contract continued to stymie his film career, and by the time he was released in 1963, his popularity had waned. That said, Byrnes had quite a bit of success in the mid to late 1960s and found roles on television and in films, such as Beach Ball (1965; with Chris Noel and Aron Kincaid). In 1967, he went to Italy made a trio of excellent spaghetti westerns, including Red Blood, Yellow Gold (1967; with George Hilton), Payment in Blood (1967; with Guy Madison), and Any Gun Can Play (1967; with Gilbert Roland and George Hilton). After returning from Italy, Byrnes made many guest appearances on such popular television shows as Mannix, Alias Smith and Jones, and Adam-12, as well as film appearances in Wicked, Wicked (1973; with Tiffany Bolling, Scott Brady, and Diane McBain) and Grease (1978; with John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John).

the films of edd byrnes

Reform School Girl (1957)

Edd Byrnes and Ralph ReedEdd Byrnes and Nesdon Booth

Edd Byrnes pulls a knife on Ralph Reed in the gritty American International crime drama Reform School Girl. RIGHT: With Nesdon Booth

Darby's Rangers (1958)

Edd Byrnes and Etchika Choureau

With Etchika Choureau in the Warner Bros. war drama Darby's Rangers

77 Sunset Strip (1958-1964 ABC TV Series)

Edd Byrnes, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., and Roger SmithYvonne Craig and Edd Byrnes

LEFT: Cast photo from the Warner Bros./ABC TV series 77 Sunset Strip with Efrem Zimbalist Jr. and Roger Smith. RIGHT: From a June 1960 episode with Yvonne Craig

Yellowstone Kelly (1959)

Edd Byrnes, Clint Walker, and John Russell

From the Warner Bros. western Yellowstone Kelly with Clint Walker and John Russell

The Secret Invasion (1964)

Henry Silva, Edd Byrnes, Stewart Granger, and William Campbell

From the war drama The Secret Invasion with Henry Silva, Stewart Granger, and William Campbell. This film was directed by Roger Corman

Beach Ball (1965)

Chris Noel and Edd ByrnesChris Noel and Edd ByrnesAron Kincaid, Don Edmonds, Robert Logan, and Edd ByrnesBrenda Benet, Don Edmonds, Robert Logan, Gail Gilmore, Aron Kincaid, and Edd Byrnes

Paramount's beach movie release Beach Ball capitalized on American International's success with its Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello vehicles. LEFT and CENTER A: With costar Chris Noel. CENTER B: With Aron Kincaid, Don Edmonds, and Robert Logan. RIGHT: With Brenda Benet, Don Edmonds, Robert Logan, Gail Gilmore, and Aron Kincaid

Honey West (1965-1966 ABC TV Series)

Edd Byrnes

Byrnes portrayed Robin Hood, a jewel thief, in a March 1966 episode of ABC's Honey West titled Little Green Robin Hood

Any Gun Can Play (1967)

Edd Byrnes

Byrnes stars as Clayton in the spaghetti western Any Gun Can Play

Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre (1963-1967 NBC TV Series)

Jack Weston and Edd Byrnes

With Jack Weston in a March 1967 episode of Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre titled A Song Called Revenge

Payment in Blood (1968)

Guy Madison and Edd ByrnesLouise Barrett and Edd Byrnes

LEFT: With Guy Madison in the spaghetti western Payment in Blood. RIGHT: With Louise Barrett

The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour (1971-1974 CBS TV Series)

Edd Byrnes and Cher

With Cher on a September 1973 episode of The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour

Wicked, Wicked (1973)

Edd Byrnes

As lifeguard Hank Lassiter in the MGM horror release Wicked, Wicked. This film was shot in a short-lived split-screen format dubbed "Duo-Vision"

$weepstake$ (1979 NBC TV series)

Edd Byrnes

From the short-lived NBC series $weepstake$. In this drama, Byrnes portrayed the emcee of a lottery that gave million-dollar prizes to contestants and followed the changes in their lives

later years

Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, Byrnes career was primarily based in television, although he did appear in a few films. He retired from acting in the mid 1990s, around the time he wrote his autobiography, Kookie No More, in which he detailed his struggles with alcohol and drugs. He has been clean and sober since the early 1980s. Sadly, Edd Byrnes passed away suddenly from a heart condition on January 8, 2020 at the age of 86. He is survived by his son, Logan Byrnes, who is a television news anchor in San Diego; his ex-wife, actress Asa Maynor; and his longtime companion, Cathrine Gross.

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Shake, Rattle and Roll: An American Love Story (1999) with Bonnie Somerville, Brad Hawkins, Kathy Baker, Gerald McRaney, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Troy Donahue
Troop Beverly Hills (1989) with Shelley Long, Craig T. Nelson, Mary Gross, Stephanie Beacham, and Audra Lindley
Party Line (1988) with Richard Hatch, Leif Garrett, and Richard Roundtree
Mankillers (1987) with Gail Fisher and Edy Williams
Back to the Beach (1987) with Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello, Lori Loughlin, Tommy Hinkley, and Connie Stevens
Erotic Images (1983) with Britt Ekland
Twirl (1981) with Erin Moran, Lisa Whelchel, Stella Stevens, Missy Gold, and Heather Locklear
Grease (1978) with John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing, Jeff Conaway, Didi Conn, Dinah Manoff, Eve Arden, Frankie Avalon, and Joan Blondell
Telethon (1977) with Polly Bergen, Lloyd Bridges, Red Buttons, Dick Clark, Janet Leigh, Kent McCord, Eve Plumb, David Selby, and Jill St. John
Mobile Two (1975) with Jackie Cooper, Joe E. Tata, William Boyett, and Burt Mustin
Stardust (1974) with David Essex, Adam Faith, Larry Hagman, Keith Moon, and Dave Edmunds
Wicked, Wicked (1973) with David Bailey, Tiffany Bolling, Scott Brady, Diane McBain, and Madeleine Sherwood
The Silent Gun (1969) with Lloyd Bridges, John Beck, Ed Begley, Pernell Roberts, Susan Howard, and Michael Forest
Red Blood, Yellow Gold (1967) with George Hilton and George Martin
Any Gun Can Play (1967) with George Hilton and Gilbert Roland
Payment in Blood (1967) with Guy Madison
Beach Ball (1965) with Chris Noel, Robert Logan, Aron Kincaid, Don Edmonds, Brenda Benet, and Gail Gilmore
The Secret Invasion (1964) with Stewart Granger, Mickey Rooney, Henry Silva, and William Campbell
Yellowstone Kelly (1959) with Clint Walker, John Russell, Ray Danton, Claude Akins, Rhodes Reason, Gary Vinson, and Warren Oates
Up Periscope (1959) with James Garner, Edmond O'Brien, Alan Hale Jr., Carleton Carpenter, and Frank Gifford
Girl on the Run (1958) with Efrem Zimbalist Jr, Erin O'Brien, and Shepperd Strudwick
Life Begins at 17 (1958) with Mark Damon, Ann Doran, and Luana Anders
Marjorie Morningstar (1958) with Gene Kelly, Natalie Wood, Claire Trevor, Martin Milner, Carolyn Jones, George Tobias, and Martin Balsam
Darby's Rangers (1958) with James Garner, Jack Warden, Venetia Stevenson, Peter Brown, Stuart Whitman, William Wellman Jr., and Andrea King
Johnny Trouble (1957) with Ethel Barrymore, Cecil Kellaway, Stuart Whitman, Carolyn Jones, Jesse White, and Nino Tempo
Reform School Girl (1957) with Gloria Castillo, Yvette Vickers, and Luana Anders

$weepstake$, 1979 NBC TV series. Byrnes portrayed the emcee
77 Sunset Strip, 1958-1964 ABC TV series. Byrnes portrayed Gerald Lloyd "Kookie" Kookson from 1958 to 1963

Unhappily Ever After, episode Sternberg, originally aired January 19, 1997
Kung Fu: The Legend Continues, episode Flying Fists of Fury II, originally aired October 30, 1995
Burke's Law, episode Who Killed Nick Hazard?, originally aired January 21, 1994
Murder, She Wrote, episode The Sound of Murder, originally aired January 3, 1993
Married with Children, episode My Dinner with Anthrax, originally aired February 23, 1992
Empty Nest, episode Talk, Talk, Talk, originally aired November 16, 1991
Murder, She Wrote, episode How to Make a Killing Without Really Trying, originally aired February 4, 1990
Mr. Belvedere, episode The Pageant, originally aired January 1, 1990
Rags to Riches, episode Beauty and the Babe, originally aired November 20, 1987
Throb, episode Garden Party, originally aired November 14, 1987
Crazy Like a Fox, episode Dead on Arrival, originally aired April 19, 1986
The Master, episode Failure to Communicate, originally aired May 4, 1984
Simon & Simon, episode The Wrong Stuff, originally aired February 9, 1984
Quincy M.E., episode On Dying High, originally aired February 9, 1983
Fantasy Island, episode The Big Bet/Nancy and the Thunderbirds, originally aired May 1, 1982
The Love Boat, episode New York, A.C./Live It Up/All's Fair in Love and War, originally aired February 20, 1982
Vega$, episode French Twist, originally aired May 6, 1981
Charlie's Angels, episode Waikiki Angels, originally aired January 4, 1981
House Calls, episode Muggers and Other Strangers, originally aired December 1, 1980
Fantasy Island, episode Don Quixote/The Sex Symbol, originally aired November 15, 1980
B.J. and the Bear, episode The Friendly Double Cross, originally aired March 29, 1980
Fantasy Island, episode Nona/One Million B.C., originally aired March 1, 1980
CHiPs, episode Off Road, originally aired February 2, 1980
California Fever, episode Beach Wars, originally aired December 11, 1979
B.J. and the Bear, episode Crackers, originally aired April 28, 1979
The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, episode Defection to Paradise: Parts 1 and 2, originally aired November 19 and 26, 1978
Sword of Justice, episode The Skywayman, originally aired October 19, 1978
Fantasy Island, episode Call Me Lucky/Torch Singer, originally aired May 20, 1978
Vega$, episode High Roller, originally aired April 25, 1978
The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, episode Mystery on the Avalanche Express, originally aired February 26, 1978
Police Woman, episode Wednesdays Child, originally aired February 3, 1976
Police Story, episode The Empty Weapon, originally aired November 21, 1975
Thriller, episode Where the Action Is, originally aired February 8, 1975
Marcus Welby, M.D., episode No Charity for the MacAllisters, originally aired January 15, 1974
Faraday and Company, episode A Wheelbarrow Full of Trouble, originally aired October 24, 1973
The ABC Afternoon Playbreak, episode The Gift of Terror, originally aired April 5, 1973
The Pathfinders, episode Sitting Ducks, originally aired November 15, 1972
Alias Smith and Jones, episode The Ten Days That Shook Kid Curry, originally aired November 4, 1972
Adam-12, episode Dirt Duel, originally aired September 13, 1972
The Virginian, episode The Animal, originally aired January 20, 1971
Love, American Style, episode Love and the Fighting Couple/Love and the Pick-Up/Love and the Proposal, originally aired January 5, 1970
Mannix, episode A Penny for the Peepshow, originally aired November 1, 1969
Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre, episode A Song Called Revenge, originally aired March 1, 1967
Honey West, episode Little Green Robin Hood, originally aired March 18, 1966
Mister Roberts, episode The Reluctant Draggin', originally aired February 18, 1966
Burke's Law, episode Who Killed Mr. Colby in Ladies' Lingerie?, originally aired March 3, 1965
Kraft Suspense Theatre, episode The Jack Is High, originally aired November 19, 1964
The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, episode Final Escape, originally aired February 21, 1964
Hawaiian Eye, episode Among the Living, originally aired May 30, 1962
Surfside 6, episode Love Song for a Deadly Redhead, originally aired April 30, 1962
The Jo Stafford Show, episode The Four Seasons, originally aired January 1, 1961
Hawaiian Eye, episode Swan Song for a Hero, originally aired December 7, 1960
Lawman, episode The Mad Bunch, originally aired October 2, 1960
Maverick, episode Hadley's Hunters, originally aired September 25, 1960
Lawman, episode The Deputy, originally aired October 5, 1958
Sugarfoot, episode Ring of Sand, originally aired September 16, 1958
The Gale Storm Show, episode Not So Innocents Abroad, originally aired May 3, 1958
Colt .45, episode The Golden Gun, originally aired February 28, 1958
Cheyenne, episode The Last Comanchero, originally aired January 14, 1958
Maverick, episode Stage West, originally aired October 27, 1957
Maverick, episode Ghost Rider, originally aired October 13, 1957
Telephone Time, episode Stranded, originally aired May 9, 1957
Cheyenne, episode The Brand, originally aired April 9, 1957
Navy Log, episode Buzz Boy, originally aired January 2, 1957
Wire Service, episode The Deep End, originally aired December 13, 1956
The Adventures of Jim Bowie, episode The Select Females, originally aired November 23, 1956
Crossroads, episode The Comeback, originally aired October 5, 1956

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