R.I.P. Kevin Dobson, star of Kojak and Knots Landing

He served in the army and worked as a railroad conductor before becoming an actor.

The Everett Collection

Born to a homemaker mother and a school janitor father, future TV star Kevin Dobson grew up in the Jackson Heights neighborhood of Queens in New York City.

As a young man, he served in the Army and eventually got a job with the Long Island Rail Road. While working as a train conductor, he decided to start auditioning for acting work.

After landing a role in a commercial, he joined the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) while still employed by the railroad. In a 2016 interview he said, "I went to the SAG office and they let me join. I was punching [train] tickets with a SAG card in my wallet."

Dobson's earliest roles came on the soap opera The Doctors, sometimes as a policeman. It was a fitting way to start his career on television. 

In 1971, Dobson moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting full time. He made a small, uncredited appearance in the Jane Fonda–Donald Sutherland detective film Klute and acted in an episode of The Mod Squad with Desi Arnaz, Jr.

After gigs on Seventies shows like Ironside, Emergency! and Cannon, Dobson won his breakout role as Bobby Crocker alongside Telly Savalas as the titular character in the detective series Kojak. Dobson auditioned three times before he was cast. He credits his experience in the Army with helping him land the role.  

"I was a military policeman in the Army, so I knew how to hold a gun and throw somebody against a wall. I got a call asking if I’d sign a contract," he explained.

During and after Kojak, Dobson starred in many TV movies and a few theatrical ones. He played Ensign George Gay in the 1976 WWII thriller Midway and Barbara Streisand's husband in All Night Long.

After leading his own short-lived detective show, Shannon, Dobson was cast as Patrick "Mack" Mackenzie in the primetime soap Knot’s Landing. He was on the Dallas spinoff from season four through the series finale in 1993.

Outside of acting, Dobson frequently visited VA facilities and was the chairman of the United Veterans Council of San Joaquin County. He even hosted the Veterans Inaugural Balls for Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

Kevin Dobson passed away Sunday at the age of 77.

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Edward 41 months ago
A full life for Kevin as he ran the gauntlet of life until he made the decision to go after that acting career. Millions would agree that I'm glad he did. Class guy, of course, an Army veteran.
bettyluvsgators 44 months ago
loved him on Kojak and Knots Landing. Sorry to hear of his passing.
jmtzum00 44 months ago
Rip Kevin, always a pleasure to watch you act.
TheDavBow3 44 months ago
R.I.P., Kev. Always a Kojak guy!!
MarkSpeck 44 months ago
I remember his short-lived series Shannon. He played a New York cop who relocated to San Francisco, and also happened to be a single dad. A nice little show that only lasted eight episodes. Also around that time, Dobson played Mike Hammer in the TV-movie Mike Hammer: Margin For Murder. This was the first Hammer movie to be produced by Jay Bernstein. By the time they were ready to do another Hammer movie, Kevin had already moved on to Knots Landing, so they got Stacy Keach, and the rest is history.
Hal 44 months ago
Kevin Dobson has always been one of my favorite actors - especially on Knots Landing! He and Michelle Lee were so talented, that I would have sworn that they were married in real life! Condolences to all of Kevin Dobson's family and friends. May he rest in peace!
Irish 44 months ago
Got 19 out of 20. Sad to hear Ken Berry passed. R.I.P.
stephaniestavropoulos 44 months ago
R.I.P. Kevin. The day passed, I was watching him on his most well known role. I watched a couple of episodes of Kojak. I have a feeling I must've sensed his passing, because off and on, a weird feeling came over me. I didn't find out he had died, until I read it on here.
I liked seeing him on Battle Of The Network Stars. I think one or two of his appearances, his tv boss was captain of CBS Team. Those were the only two representatives from Kojak, that were ever on. Would have to have seen the actors who played Rizzo and Saperstein appear, but no one else ever did. Kevin was a class act. I loved how he worked on the railroad. I love trains. He brought a lot of enjoyment to people. Now Bobby, and Detective Theo Kojak can continue to but the baddies in Heaven. Oh wait, the baddies wouldn't be up there. Then, instead, they'd be knocking back a few glasses of ouzo, eating a lot of delicious Greek food, and dancing the night away. OOPA!
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