He was an “agile song-and-dance man who was encouraged in show business by his U.S. Army sergeant … Leonard Nimoy.” He also starred on “Mayberry RFD,” a short-lived spin-off of “The Andy Griffith Show” that I remember quite enjoying, although I remember nothing about it.
Berry came to fame for portraying the greenhorn Captain Parmenter on ABC’s F Troop, which aired for only two seasons (65 episodes from September 1965 through April 1967) but lived on in syndication for decades.
A private, Parmenter was promoted to take command of Fort Courage in Kansas after his sneeze (which sounded like “Charge!”) propelled Union troops to an inspirational victory over the Confederates.
Berry’s goofball antics, which he dispensed with the dexterity of a trained dancer, supplied many of the show’s highlights. In a 2012 interview with the Archive of American Television, he said he came up with many of the pratfalls himself.
“It was something that I could bring to the show,” he said. “I would choreograph stuff. I would find things in the set or outside that I could use. [It got so that the F Troop scripts would say,] ‘Business to be worked out with Ken on the set.'”
Berry’s legions of fans included the great silent film star Buster Keaton, a master of physical comedy. “He once called me after the show had been on the night before and said, ‘That was a good gag you did last night,'” he recalled. “Wow, that was high praise!”
Here’s the opening “F-Troop” theme. I believe I can sing every word by heart.