Archive for September, 2009

Where In the World is Ken Clark?

Monday, September 21st, 2009

Well, a lot has happened over the summer — I didnt bother to write about it, my apologies for that.  Before I try to update everything that has gone on, I want to write about something I just learned last week.

Aunt Lois (my Mom’s aunt, my great aunt) is 80 years old.  She is not in good health.  She is of perfectly sound mind, however, and is proving to be a great resource in my research.  During a recent visit to her, she told me about her brother, Ken, the movie star.

Yes, movie star.

Ken Clark

Ken Clark was in about 50 movie and TV episodes in a career that spanned 5 different decades, from the 50s to the 90s.  In 1956, he won roles in three Robert D Webb movies, On the Threshold of Space, The Proud Ones, and Love Me Tender, yes THAT Love Me Tender, with Elvis!  However, the most well-known of his roles is probably that of Stewpot in South Pacific.   

That was his busiest year and after that, work seems to have gotten harder to find.  He did a lot of TV episode work, “Death Valley Days,” “The Thin Man,” “Jane Wyman Presents the Fireside Theatre,” “Highway Patrol” to name a few.  But the movie roles didnt seem to be coming.

As the 50s came to a close, the major movie studios began to change their production model.  They stopped signing actors to exclusive contracts.  Thus, Ken, as well as a host of others, lost his contract with 20th Century Fox.  In between the growing list of TV appearances, he made a couple of low budget science fiction movies, (the now classic) Attack of the Giant Leeches and 12 to the Moon.
Ken Clark in 12 to the Moon

Ken Clark in Attack of the Giant Leeches

But, movie stardom did not seem to be in the offing – at least not in the US.  So, around 1961 Ken packed up and moved to Italy.  It was there his career took off.

But I dont want to delve too much into his career.  most of what I know is public record on various web sites like  What I learned from Aunt Lois is what, to me, makes this even more exciting: no one in Aunt Lois’ family ever had contact with Ken after 1960!  No call, no card, no note, no telegram, no nothing!

Aunt Lois would not tell me why, but it must have been something big — at least, big in the 1950s.  What else could keep someone from contacting their family for 40+ years?  Nothing when his parents divorced, nothing when his father died, nothing when his mother died, nothing when his other sister died.  Just nothing.  It must have been something emotional, not just a fight between a small town Ohio boy with a dream and his father over becoming an actor.

I have been trying to track Ken Clark down, but so far no luck.  I contacted the Screen Actors Guild and they do have a record of him but they have no contact information.

If anyone out there knows of a way I can try to contact Ken Clark, please let me know.