Ken Kercheval - Updated Feb 2024

Updated On February 12, 2024
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Ken Kercheval

Ken Kercheval is a late American actor. Ken Kercheval is widely recognized for his role as Cliff Barnes on the television series “Dallas” and its 2012 revival.

Early Life

Ken Kercheval was born on the 15th of July 1935, in Wolcottville, Indiana, the United States. At the age of 83, he passed away and had a zodiac sign of Cancer. His birth name is Kenneth Marine Kercheval while ethnicity and religious belief have remained a secret.

He was born to his parents Marine Kercheval (father) and Christine Reiber (mother). His father was a doctor while his mother was a nurse by profession. He grew up with his sister Kate, an appendectomy, and was raised in Clinton.


In terms of his academics, he graduated from Chamberlain-Hunt Military Academy, Mississippi. He went to Indiana University to study music and drama rather than medicine. Later, he studied at the University of the Pacific and, beginning in 1956, at Sanford Meisner’s Neighborhood Playhouse in New York City.

Professional Career

Stage Works

Initially, Ken Kercheval began as a stage actor, working alongside Dustin Hoffman in ‘Dead End’ a 1959 production. During his time in theaters, he did a variety of other work to sustain himself. From selling encyclopedias, photographing babies, and contributing to the construction of sewer tunnels beneath Manhattan are some of his works which he had done during his struggling period.

He made his Broadway debut in the 1961 musical ‘The Young Abe Licoin’ followed by ‘Something About a Soldier,’ in 1962. During this time, he was also recognized for his performance as a young college professor in Edward Albee’s national touring production of ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’

Acting debut

After doing theaters, he made his acting debut in 1962 with an uncredited television series, “Naked City.” Until 1966, he made his few appearances in other TV series such as “The Defenders,” “The Nurses,” “The Trials of O’Brien,” and “Hawk.”

He co-starred with Herschel Bernardi, Maria Karnilova, Julia Migenes, Leonard Frey, and Pia Zadora in the original Broadway production of ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ in 1966. Meanwhile, he continued his theater’s journey with the musical ‘Here’s Where I Belong’ in 1968 and a comedy, ‘Father’s Day’ in 1971.

In 1966, he landed his first television role as Dr. Nick Hunter number one on “Search for Tomorrow.” Later roles in soap operas included “The Secret Storm” and “How to Survive a Marriage.”

Kercheval’s film career began with the black comedy ‘Pretty Poison’ in 1968. In the 1970s, he played a variety of characters in films such as “Rabbit, Run,” “The Seven-Ups,” “Network,” and “F.I.S.T.”

He appeared in the off-Broadway production ‘Berlin to Broadway with Kurt Weill,’ in 1972. Between 1975 and 1985, he made numerous appearances in a number of television series including “The Adams Chronicles,” “Family,” “Kojak,” “CHiPs,” and “Starsky and Hutch.”


However, Kercheval’s breakthrough role came in the year 1978, when, he played the role of Cliff Barnes in the television series “Dallas.” He played the role of Cliff in the series until 1991.

Caption: The poster of the television series, Dallas (Source: eBay)

Meanwhile, he also appeared as a celebrity contestant on a number of game shows in the 1980s, including “The $10,000 Pyramid,” “Super Password,” “The $25,000 Pyramid,” “Blackout,” and “The $100,000 Pyramid.” He invested in Old Capital Popcorn Company in 1985. The company succeeded in the early years, but things went downward later.

In 1989, Edward Phillips Jr., a business partner who was forced to leave the company by Kercheval, crashed a truck into the Lorimar Studios and set it on fire before committing suicide. The filming of “Dallas” was going on the place at Lorimar Studios.

From 1986 onwards, he was seen in more television series like “Mike Hammer,” “Matlock,” “Highway to Heaven,” “L.A. Law,” “Walker, Texas Ranger,” and “Diagnosis Murder.”

Continued acting career until his death

In the 1980s and 1990s, he appeared in television movies such as “The Patricia Neal Story,” “The Demon Murder Case,” “Perry Mason: The Case of the Defiant Daughter,” “I Still Dream of Jeannie,” “Diagnosis Murder: Diagnosis of Murder,” “Woman on the Ledge,” and “A Perry Mason Mystery: The Case of the Grimacing Governor.”

During the 1990s, he appeared in films such as “California Casanova” and ‘Beretta’s Island’.He appeared in the stage musical “White Christmas” from 2006 to 2011. During that time, the musical in which he played ‘The General’ toured the UK.

His last television series was a revival of the original “Dallas,” which aired between 2012 and 2014. He had a recurring role in the series, which had a mix of old and new stars. Meanwhile, his last film, “Surviving in L.A.,” was released in 2019.


For his portrayal of the character Cliff Barnes in “Dallas,” he was nominated several times in the ‘Soap Opera Digest Awards.’ He finally won the Outstanding Supporting Actor: Prime Time award in 1990. In 2006, he shared the Pop Culture Award by ‘TV Land Awards’ with a few other “Dallas” stars.

Net Worth 2023

At the time of his death, his net worth was estimated at around $800 thousand. Meanwhile, he had earned through his acting roles in movies and TV series.

Relationship Status

Ken Kercheval married three times, all of which ended in divorce. His first wife was Judith Peters Launt (1956-1967), and his second and third wives were actress Cheryl Paris (1994-2004) and Ava Ruth Fox (1986-1993). He had been a smoker his entire life and admitted to smoking three packs of cigarettes per day. As a result, he was diagnosed with cancer in 1993. The following year, a portion of his lungs were removed.

Moreover, he also referred to himself as a “practicing alcoholic” for 20 years before finally breaking the habit. He died on April 21, 2019, at the age of 83 from pneumonia. He is survived by his five children – Caleb, Liza, Aaron, Asa, and Madison – and six grandchildren.

Body Measurements

Ken Kercheval

Caption: Ken Kercheval with his smiling face (Source:

Kercheval stands 5 feet 9 inches tall (175 cm) and weighs an average. Meanwhile, he has a pair of gray eyes with brown hair colour, and his other body measurements are under review.

Ken Kercheval – Social Media

This talented actor is no longer alive in this world. As a result, this American actor is not active on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.