Kenn Hill is a retired Cinnaminson police officer who was recently inducted into Atlantic City’s Martial Arts Hall of Fame, not for his law enforcement work but as a stuntman.
Hill developed an interest in film and television while watching Jack Mahoney’s wild stunts in the 1950s TV western “The Range Rider.” Eventually, being a stuntman became his lifelong dream. He read movie magazines and books on stunts. In 1970, Hill wrote letters to famous stuntman John Hagner and the two became close friends.
Hill filmed his first movie, “Skatetown USA,” while on vacation in Los Angeles, after visiting Hanger on the set and getting a walk-on role. One stuntman didn’t show up, and the assistant director asked Hill to step in.
Stunt work isn’t a huge stretch for Hill, and his career as a policeman actually prepared him for it.
“Maybe getting into scuffles with certain bad guys came in handy,” said Hill, who also noted that the physical demands of police work helped with his stunt acting. “You have to stay in shape. I also do bodybuilding, which makes the job easy to do.”
Hill has participated in some risky stunts.
“In “The Italian Job,” I was in a car on a two-lane road, and the cars were coming at each other at a certain speed,” he recalled. “I was on a slope, and had to make sure I wouldn’t fall off and that the stuntwoman was safe.”
For Hill, stunt work has resulted in memorable moments, including meeting Tom Sellect on the set of Magnum P.I.” and having a chat with him about their love of baseball.
“I had a small part, and my wife Shiri was in it with me,’’ he explained. “We met Tom and got pictures with him and the cast.”
On Father’s Day weekend, Hill’s hard stuntman work paid off. Both Hill and his son, Kenn Jr., were inducted into the hall of fame at Harrah’s Resort.
“My son was inducted for his work in martial arts as a Black Belt,” said the elder Hill, who initially did not know he was eligible. “I knew the event was coming up and was going to attend to support him.”
Hill Sr. said he was glad he didn’t initially know about his hall eligibility, because it came as a nice surprise. He received a trophy for his work and a picture to capture the memory. While he is no longer a Cinnaminson cop, Hill still works as a stuntman in shows for the Wild West City theme park in Byram Township, something he’s done for 27 of the park’s seasons.
“It’s something to still do, and I’m still looking for my first Western film,” he acknowledged, adding that anyone can achieve their dreams at any age. “It’s more than a dream, it’s your destiny. If you stay with it mentally, it comes in an unexpected way.”