Edd “Kookie” Byrnes, the 77 Sunset Strip actor whose wavy hair and penchant for combing it made him an early TV teen idol, died Thursday of natural causes at his Santa Monica home, according to his son, San Diego TV news anchor Logan Byrnes. He was 87.
The actor was one of the guiding inspirations for director Quentin Tarantino and Leonardo DiCaprio, informing the Rick Dalton character in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
Byrnes came to attention as one of the stars of the detective show 77 Sunset Strip, which aired on ABC from 1958-64. Byrnes played Kookie, the rock ‘n’ roll-loving parking attendant who always was quick with a quip to his next-door neighbors at the detective agency. His striking good looks made him an instant hit with the teenagers of the late 1950s, culminating in a gold record with actress Connie Stevens, “Kookie, Kookie (Lend Me Your Comb).” The song reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in May 1959.