The New York actor was a finger-snapping, hair-combing, teen-idol sensation who parked cars on the swanky ABC detective series.
Edd Byrnes, who gained fleeting fame as Kookie, the ultra-hip, wisecracking parking attendant on the jazzy 1950s-’60s ABC detective series 77 Sunset Strip, has died. He was 87.
Byrnes, who years later played the smooth-talking Vince Fontaine, a Dick Clark-like dance contest host, in Grease (1978), died unexpectedly Wednesday of natural causes at his home in Santa Monica, his son, San Diego TV news anchor Logan Byrnes, said on Twitter.
“It is with profound sadness and grief that I share with you the passing of my father Edd Byrnes. He was an amazing man and one of my best friends,” he wrote.
On 77 Sunset Strip, Kookie parked cars at Dino’s Lodge, a Hollywood nightclub that was owned by Dean Martin and served as a backdrop on the show. The club was next door to the private detective agency run by the suave duo of Stuart Bailey (Efrem Zimbalist Jr.) and Jeff Spencer (Roger Smith).
When he wasn’t “piling up the Z’s” (that would be sleeping), the finger-snapping Kookie was running a comb through his wavy ducktail, and Byrnes became one of television’s first heartthrobs, in an Elvis kind of way. He elicited shrieks of delight from young female fans everywhere and parlayed that teen-idol fame into a gold record, “Kookie, Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb.”
Recorded with actress Connie Stevens, the song (on Warner Bros. Records) made it to No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in May 1959.
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