- Father was a musician and orchestra leader; mother was a ballet dancer.
- Made stage debut at the age of 2 in a touring company of Bringing Up Father.
- Enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1943 and served for 16 years, including duty during World War II. Later, he became a disc jockey on Armed Forces Radio.
- While serving in the Army, he helped open the first Army Information Office, which provides technical assistance to films and television shows.
- After his Army career ended, he became a technical advisor for The Phil Silvers Show and landed a few uncredited appearances, which ignited his acting career.
- His first speaking role in a major film came in 1960's Spartacus in which he was the last slave to famously exclaim "I am Spartacus."
- Legally adopted his granddaughter Taylor after his daughter, Shaunna, was deemed an unfit parent.
- Authored three books: mysteries Murder on Location (1983) and Murder on High (1984) and an autobiography titled Trust Me (2011).
- 1967, Oscar — Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role: Winner
- 1971, Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture: Nominee
- 1968, Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture: Nominee
- Shaunna Kennedy — Daughter
- Betty Kennedy — Daughter
- Helen Meade — Mother
- Norma Wurman — Ex-wife
- George Kennedy Sr. — Father
- Joan McCarthy — Wife (deceased)
- Taylor Kennedy — Daughter
- Tarleton State University, Stephenville, Texas, United States