This craggy-faced, rotund supporting player, often in brutal or overbearing roles was memorable as the bullying, racist fire chief in "Ragtime" (1981), and as costume shop boss to Valerie Harper on the TV series "Rhoda" (CBS, 1977-1978). Kenneth McMillan was nearly 30 when he won his first important theatre role. Born in Brooklyn, he had earned his high school diploma from the High School for the Performing Arts, but was unable to find work as an actor after graduation. He studied with Uta Hagen at the HB Studios while working -- and being promoted -- at Gimbel's department store in New York. He was managing three floors at the Herald Square Store when he auditioned for and won a role in a play in 1960. Two years later, he toured with "Sweet Bird of Youth" and thereafter made his living as an actor. On Broadway, McMillan was Donny the junk shop owner in "American Buffalo" (1977), and a frequent player for Joseph Papp at the American Shakespeare Festival, particularly memorable as Falstaff in "Henry IV Part I" (1981).
McMillan broke into films playing a cafeteria owner in "Serpico" (1973) and a borough police commander in "The Taking of Pelham One, Two, Three" (1974). He was a cabbie in Claudia Weill's "Girlfriends" (1978) and an antagonist to Jodie Foster in "Carny" (1980). McMillan was a police detective content to be corrupt in "True Confessions" (1986), and was also memorable as a railroad station chief caught between safety and Jon Voight in "Runaway Train" (1985). In the 70s and 80s, McMillan was a frequent player on TV, often the craggy, crusty, ill-tempered guy with a heart of gold, such as his role as Jack Doyle on "Rhoda," as well as his turn as Suzanne Pleshette's mentor on "Suzanne Pleshette is Maggie Briggs" (CBS, 1984), and as the father of a family of cops in "Our Family Honor" (ABC, 1985-1986). He was hardly benevolent as Bull Connor, turning the hoses and dogs on the Civil Rights protestors in the miniseries "King" (NBC, 1978). McMillan was the police sergeant who thinks he has a killer, but the town thinks otherwise in "A Death in Canaan" (CBS, 1978), and played in numerous other TV longforms. McMillan's last screen performance was as the dotty veterinarian in "Three Fugitives" (1989). At the time of his death, he was also teaching acting classes in Los Angeles.