Grease star Edd Byrnes who played Vince Fontaine dies at 87

Grease star Edd Byrnes who played Vince Fontaine dies at 87

Edd Byrnes, who rocketed to fame on the show 77 Sunset Strip and had a memorable role in the movie Grease, has died aged 87.

The Sun reported that the news was announced by the actor’s news anchor son Logan, 54, who called his father “my best friend”.

Edd Byrnes in 77 Sunset Strip.
Edd Byrnes.

Taking to Twitter, he posted: “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 continued: “His is the story of an ambitious young kid who, in his 20s drove out to Hollywood from New York City with a few hundred dollars and a dream of making it big in the entertainment business.

“He soon landed a starring role on the wildly popular TV series 77 Sunset Strip as the cool-talking Kookie. He went on to star in dozens of motion pictures and television series popular around the world, including playing the suave and debonair Vince Fontaine in Grease.”

Edd Byrnes who starred in Grease and 77 Sunset Strip has died aged 87.

Byrnes’ character Kookie in late 50s drama 77 Sunset Strip fired him to national fame.

The smooth parking-valet-turned-private investigator was a hit with young audiences.

In fact, Kookie, who was famed for his constant hair combing and slick style, was one of the inspirations behind Leonardo DiCaprio’s character, Dalton, in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.

Speaking last summer about the role, director Tarantino said: “So he’s a bit like George Maharis, he’s a bit like Edd Byrnes, he’s a bit like Tab Hunter, he’s a bit like Fabian, he’s a bit like Vince Edwards. These are all guys that were […] a certain kind of leading man that were handsome, and most of them were kinda rugged.

“They spent their careers running pocket combs through their pompadours.”

He missed out on starring in 1960 flick Ocean’s 11 with the Rat Pack due to a restrictions in his contract with Warner Bros.

In 1963 he bought himself out of his deal with the production company in a bid to crack the movies.

Edd Byrnes.
L-R) Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Edward Byrnes & Roger Smith in 77 Sunset Strip.

He claimed the iconic Sunset Strip role had made him typecast, although he did star in a series of westerns in the last sixties before returning to TV.

Edd even hosted the pilot of hit game show Wheel Of Fortune but missed out on the full time gig.

The TV star was married to actress Asa Maynor, with whom he had his son Logan, for nine years between 1962 and 1971.

Edd Byrnes who starred in Grease has died aged 87.

This article originally appeared in The Sun and is republished here with permission