Familiar to million as the twangy, bucolic Pa Kettle, Percy Kilbride first stepped on the stage in the role of an 18th-century French fop in a San Francisco production of Tale of Two Cities. Interrupting his career to serve in World War I, Kilbride spent the postwar years in regional stock companies. He made a few scattered movie appearances in the 1930s, then returned to Hollywood to stay in 1942, when he re-created his Broadway role in the film version of George Washington Slept Here. Kilbride played a variety of rustic parts until 1947, when he created the Pa Kettle role in The Egg and I. From 1949 through 1955, he starred exclusively in Universal's Ma and Pa Kettle series, retiring from the screen after Ma and Pa Kettle at Waikiki (1955) (Kilbride's co-star Marjorie Main appeared in two more Kettle films opposite Arthur Hunnicutt and Parker Fennelly). In 1964, Percy Kilbride and his actor friend Ralf Belmont were crossing a Los Angeles street near Kilbride's home when a car struck both of them down; Belmont was killed instantly, but Kilbride survived long enough to undergo brain surgery. He died of his injuries after a long hospital stay.