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Ken Kragen and Lionel Richie
Ken Kragen and Lionel Richie (Courtesy of

Ken Kragen, Humanitarian, Legendary Manager and Producer, Dies at Age 85.

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(CelebrityAccess) — The man behind “We Are the World”, Cisco’s “NetAid” and “Hands Across America” has died of natural causes in his Brentwood, California home on Tuesday. He was 85.

California born and a Harvard Business School graduate, Ken began his career as a production coordinator in 1967 on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, serving as Executive Producer in 1968-1969. It was during this time he met Kenny Rogers and soon after became his manager, including work on The Gambler films.

Highly respected, Ken worked with many entertainers during his career including the Bee Gees, Lionel Richie, Olivia Newton-John and Kenny Rogers.  CelebrityAccess Senior Editor, Larry LeBlanc was quoted as saying, “Ken’s death has floored me.  We saw each other alot in the 70’s when Kenny Rogers and the First Edition filmed the TV show, Rolling in the River at CTV in Toronto. I was next for writing Ian Tyson’s show and there was a lot of collaboration between the two.  Years later in New York, at an ASCAP reception, Ken had me mind a young singer named Trisha Yearwood for about an hour.  He was one of the great managers of all time”.

The apple didn’t fall far from the tree as Ken’s daughter, Emma, authored a children’s book titled, The 12 Dogs of Christmas.  In 2005, Ken produced a full-length feature film based on her book with DVD sales of over 1 million. Ken, also a published author wrote, Life is a Contact Sport, which doles out seasoned industry career advice. What he’s most known for, however, is the 1985 recording of, “We Are the World”.  Written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, it went on to sell over 20 million copies and has raised millions for humanitarian causes. He continually used his platform becoming a dedicated humanitarian, utilizing the entertainment industry he knew so well, to help the world.

At the time of his death, Ken was working with Neil Morgan, a seasoned technologist and Founder of Good Hands Productions on the project, “Hands Around The World”.  According to their website, “Hands around the World is this incredible idea to have one billion people holding hands around the entire world in a virtual selfie chain for Climate Change.”

Neil Morgan posted on his Facebook page, “Ken was passionate about our project, he would often say that if you combined all the amazing things he achieved in his life, that this would be the biggest and surpass them all. My great dream and goal was to have this happen whilst he was still with us and to see him awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for his life’s work. Ken’s main catch phrase was, “It is easier to accomplish the impossible than the ordinary”. Ken possessed a rare kindness, honesty and wisdom, and a heart bigger than anyone I’ve known. He was a dear friend, and we shared a lot of laughter with his wonderful humor and remarkable stories. He was loved by all he came across and will be sorely missed.”

“Ken’s death has floored me,” says Larry LeBlanc, senior writer at CelebrityAccess.. “We saw each other a lot in ‘70s when Kenny Rogers and the First Edition filmed the TV show Rolling on The River at CTV in Toronto. I was in the studio next door working on Ian Tyson’s show and there was a lot of back and forth between them.  Years later in New York at an ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) reception, Ken had me mind a young singer named Trisha Yearwood for about an hour. Ken is one of the great managers of all time.”

Ken served on several charity boards including The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation and USA for Africa. Ken received the United Nation Peace Medal for his work on “Hands Across America” and “We are the World”, a rare honor for a private citizen.

In the wake of his death, the Ken Kragen Memorial Foundation has been founded.  You can make a contribution by going to, as it appears Cathy, his wife of 43 years, and daughter Emma will continue his tradition of helping others.  In keeping with the sentiment of, “It is easier to accomplish the impossible than the ordinary”, you can visit the “Hands around the World” ( website in the hopes that it will still be done, in Ken’s honor.

Ken Kragen
Ken Kragen (Courtesy of

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