Kirby Grant, TV's 'Sky King,' Dies in Crash on Way to Shuttle

From Times Wire Services

Kirby Grant, who gained fame on television as Sky King, was killed today in a car accident while en route to watch the launch of the space shuttle Challenger.

Florida Highway Patrol Capt. Mike Kirby said Grant, 74, was alone at the time.

Grant, traveling east on a state road at 8 a.m., tried to pass the car in front of him when that vehicle also pulled out to pass, Kirby said.

Grant swerved left onto the shoulder, then swerved back to the right and into a ditch, which contained three feet of water. Grant was thrown out of his car and into the water, Kirby said.

A passerby pulled him out and he was taken to Jess Parrish Hospital in Titusville, but he was dead on arrival.

Grant starred in "Sky King" as the wealthy owner of the Flying Crown Ranch in Arizona. He used his airplane, Songbird, to fight wrongdoers.

"Sky King" started as a daytime weekend show and appeared in prime time from September, 1953, to September, 1954. It returned to weekend daytime programming in 1959 and ran until 1966.

Born Kirby Grant Hoon Jr. in Butte, Mont., on Nov. 24, 1911, Grant first made his acting reputation in film in the late 1930s.

He played leads in low-budget Westerns and other action pictures, often as a Canadian Mountie in such movies as "Trail of The Yukon," "Call of the Klondike," "Northwest Territory," "Yukon Gold" and "Northern Patrol."

Grant, who lived at Winter Springs, Fla., is survived by his wife, Catherine.

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