Ken Berry, an actor and dancer who played the affable and clumsy Capt. Wilton Parmenter in the 1960s sitcom “F Troop” and later starred as Vinton Harper, an ungainly Southern locksmith, on the 1980s comedy “Mama’s Family,” died Dec. 1 at a hospital in Burbank, Calif. He was 85.
A hospital spokeswoman, Patricia Aidem, confirmed the death but did not give a cause.
While it aired only from 1965 to 1967, the Wild West satire “F Troop” lived on in syndication, establishing the accident-prone Capt. Parmenter as one of Mr. Berry’s best-known roles. The part was also a personal favorite: Recalling the series’ production, Mr. Berry told the Archive of American Television in 2012, “I have never been that happy in my life.”
He later starred in “Mayberry R.F.D.” — a spinoff of “The Andy Griffith Show,” which had featured Mr. Berry in its final season — and “Mama’s Family,” which aired for six seasons beginning in 1983. The sitcom emerged out of a sketch on “The Carol Burnett Show” about a squabbling, working-class family.
Raised in Moline, Ill., Mr. Berry developed a sudden interest in tap dance as a teenager and soon won a local talent competition that earned him an invitation to tour with big band leader Horace Heidt. After graduating from high school, he joined the Army, where he served under Sgt. Leonard Nimoy — the future star of “Star Trek.”
“Lenny told me, ‘You ought to get in touch with some of the people at the talent departments at the studios,” Mr. Berry told the television archive. “I said, ‘I don’t know how to do that.’ He said, ‘Ah, I’ll do it for you.’ And he did. He sent wires out to agencies and the people in charge of the talent programs at the various studios. I got a couple of bites, and I took the one from Universal.”
Mr. Berry made early television appearances on variety programs hosted by Garry Moore, Bob Newhart and Ed Sullivan, and beginning in 1960 was featured as a bellboy on “The Ann Sothern Show.” He also starred on Broadway in “The Billy Barnes Revue” (1959) and appeared in family films such as “Herbie Rides Again” (1974) and “The Cat From Outer Space” (1978).
Mr. Berry’s marriage to actress Jackie Joseph ended in divorce. Their son, John Kenneth Berry, died in 2016. Survivors include his partner, Susie Walsh; and a daughter from his marriage, Jennifer Kate Berry.
“I want to be remembered as a working actor,” Mr. Berry told the television archive. “One who tried never to step on anybody’s lines or upstage anybody. I wanted to not be getting in anybody’s way. I didn’t want to cost anybody any money — everything moved fast and you had to know your lines and you had to be there.”