Ken Wahl Biography

Ken Wahl is a retired American film and television actor. Check out this biography to know about his birthday, childhood, family life, achievements and fun facts about him

Quick Facts

Birthday: February 14, 1957

Nationality: American

Famous: Actors American Men

Age: 63 Years, 63 Year Old Males

Sun Sign: Aquarius

Also Known As: Kenneth M. Wahl

Born Country: United States

Born in: Chicago, Illinois

Famous as: Actor

Height: 6'0" (183 cm), 6'0" Males

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Spouse/Ex-: Shane Barbi (m. 1997), Corinne Alphen (m. 1984–1991), Lorrie Vidal (m. 1993–1997)

children: Cody Wahl, Kyra Wahl, Louie Wahl, Raymond Wahl

City: Chicago, Illinois

U.S. State: Illinois

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Ken Wahl is a retired American film and television actor who is best known for playing the lead role of Vinnie Terranova in the CBS television crime drama 'Wiseguy' from 1987 to 1990. The role earned him a 'Golden Globe Award' and nominations for both the 'Golden Globe' and the 'Emmy Awards'. He also acted in the telefilms 'The Dirty Dozen: Next Mission' and 'The Gladiator'. He played lead roles in films, such as 'The Wanderers', 'Race for the Yankee Zephyr', 'The Soldier', 'Jinxed!', 'Purple Hearts', and 'The Taking of Beverly Hills', apart from major roles in 'Running Scared', 'Fort Apache, The Bronx', and 'The Favor'. He is currently married to his third wife Shane Barbi, with whom he advocates against animal abuse and for veterans' rights.

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Rise to Stardom
  • Ken Wahl left home at the age of 18 and moved across the country taking odd jobs. He finally settled in Los Angeles and began working in the entertainment industry. One of his first roles was as an extra in the 1978 movie 'The Buddy Holly Story'. The following year, he was cast in the lead role in the film 'The Wanderers'. It was followed by 'Running Scared', in which he played the co-lead with Judge Reinhold, and 'Fort Apache, The Bronx', in which he appeared opposite Paul Newman. Since then, he continued to appear in lead roles in films like 'Race for the Yankee Zephyr', 'The Soldier', 'Jinxed!', and 'Purple Hearts'.
  • Ken Wahl suffered a motorcycle crash while on his way to meet Diane Keaton for the role of the male lead in 'Mrs. Soffel', following which his feature film appearances decreased. On television, he was one of the stars on the ensemble cast telefilm 'The Dirty Dozen: Next Mission' and co-starred in the mini-series 'Double Dare' in 1985. He played the lead in the 1986 TV-movie 'The Gladiator', and the next year, was cast in the lead role of Vinnie Terranova in the television series 'Wiseguy'. Though reluctant at first, he took the role and went on to win a 'Golden Globe Award'. He later starred in films like 'The Taking of Beverly Hills' and 'The Favor', and the 'Wiseguy' reunion telefilm.
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  • In 1992, Ken Wahl was casually dating Joan Child, who would eventually marry comedian Rodney Dangerfield. One night he fell down the stairs and broke his neck while staying at her house. She begged him to keep it a secret that he was at her place, so he told the media that he had yet another bike crash, confessing the truth much later in 2004. It took him two-and-a-half years to learn how to walk again, partly due to a 'botched' undisclosed surgery and the doctors refusing to prescribe pain medication. Tormented by excessive pain, he chose to give in to drinking. In the following years, he was arrested a couple times for drinking related issues and was ordered to enter a live-in alcohol rehabilitation program.
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Family & Personal Life
  • Kenneth M. Wahl has maintained ambiguity over his early life and has given more than one birth date. While some reports state Halloween 1954 or Valentine's Day 1956, he was presumably born on February 14, 1957 in Chicago, Illinois, United States, according to a Newspaper Enterprise Association syndicated article from 1988 which cites records checked by the CBS publicist for his television series 'Wiseguy'. This date also makes him 18 years old in June 1975, when he graduated from Bremen High School in the Chicago suburb of Midlothian. Moreover, Ken Wahl is not his actual birth name; in fact, he took the name of the person who saved his father's life in the Korean War as his stage name. According to his official biography, he is the third child of his parents, while the NEA article states he was the ninth of 11 children from a blue-collar German-Italian family. He played baseball in school until his athletic aspirations were crushed by a motorcycle accident when he was 16. While still in school, he worked as a janitor and as a gas-station attendant at his family's service station.
  • At the age of 26, Ken Wahl married former Penthouse 'Pet of the Year' Corinne Alphen on August 12, 1983 in Los Angeles. They had a son named Raymond, but divorced in 1991. In 1993, he married Lorrie Vidal, with whom he had a daughter and a son, but his second marriage also ended in divorce in 1997. He met Shane Barbi, glamour model and one half of the Barbi Twins with her sister Sia, at a grocery store in 1996. They bonded over their shared love for animals and also attended 12-step meetings together. They married on September 17, 1997, and later renewed their wedding vows in 2008.


Golden Globe Awards
1990 Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Drama Wiseguy (1987)

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Last Updated
- August 22, 2019
Ken Wahl

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