in the TV series The Life of Riley
December 29, 1892|
St. Paul, Minnesota, U.S.
|Died||June 22, 1979
Woodland Hills, Los Angeles
|Other names||Emery Parnell
Emory Parnell (December 29, 1892 – June 22, 1979) was an American vaudevillian and actor who appeared in over 250 films in his 36 year career. Nicknamed "The Big Swede", Parnell (who was sometimes credited as "Emery" or "Parnel") was married to Effie Laird, and they had two children together, one of whom, James Parnell, also became an actor.
Parnell trained as a musician at Morningside College, a Methodist institution in Sioux City, Iowa, and spent his early years as a concert violinist. He performed on the Chautauqua and Lyceum circuits until 1930, when he relocated to Detroit, Michigan, to narrate and act in commercial and industrial films. Seeking better opportunities in Hollywood, Parnell and his wife moved to Los Angeles, California, where, helped by his red-faced Irish look of frustration, he immediately began to appear in films in a variety of role, such as policemen, doormen, landlords, and small town businessmen.
Although his appearances were often in "B" films, such as the Ma and Pa Kettle series, he also made credible showings in "A" films as well. One notable part was as a Paramount studio executive who sang about avoiding libel suits to open 1941's Louisiana Purchase. Parnell was also part of writer-director Preston Sturges' unofficial "stock company" of character actors in the 1940s, appearing in five of Sturges' films, including The Miracle of Morgan's Creek, where he played the crooked banker, "Mr. Tuerck", the chief antagonist of William Demarest's "Constable Kockenlocker". He also made a memorable appearance as grumpy socialite Ajax Bullion in the Three Stooges short subject All the World's a Stooge.
In May 1949, Parnell appeared on Broadway for the first and only time, in the play Mr. Adam, which ran for only five performances. In the 1950s, Parnell began to appear on television in both dramatic shows and situation comedies in roles similar to those that he had played in films. He portrayed William Bendix's factory foreman "Hank Hawkins" on The Life of Riley, and the character "Bill Anders" on five episodes of the ABC/Warner Brothers western series, Maverick. He appeared on the ABC/WB series, The Alaskans, with Roger Moore, and a related NBC even shorter series, Klondike, with James Coburn and Ralph Taeger. He was cast in an episode of the NBC family drama, National Velvet. He also appeared in a 1964 episode of Perry Mason as Leo Mann, an angry investor, titled "The Case of the Latent Lover."
Parnell's last acting appearance on television was in 1971 as a prospector on CBS's Gunsmoke. His last film role was as a bartender in the 1973 film, Girls on the Road. His final public appearance came in 1974, when he and his wife were interviewed by TV talk-show host Tom Snyder along with other residents of the Motion Picture Country Home and Hospital.
Parnell died of a heart attack in 1979 at age 86.
- King of Alcatraz (1938)
- The Great McGinty (1940)
- The Blonde from Singapore (1941)
- Sullivan's Travels (1941)
- I Married a Witch (1942)
- Du Barry Was a Lady (1943)
- Nazty Nuisance (1943)
- The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1944)
- Mama Loves Papa (1945)
- Two O'Clock Courage (1945)
- Colonel Effingham's Raid (1946)
- Strange Triangle (1946)
- The Falcon's Alibi (1946)
- Gas House Kids Go West (1947)
- Violence (1947)
- Blonde Ice (1948)
- County Fair (1950)
- To Please a Lady (1950)
- The Fabulous Senorita (1952)
- Pride of the Blue Grass (1954)
- This Earth Is Mine (1959)
- Emory Parnell at the Internet Movie Database
- Emory Parnell at AllMovie
- Emory Parnell at the TCM Movie Database
- Emory Parnell at the Internet Broadway Database
- Emory Parnell at Find a Grave
- Video clip, "Billy Reed" tries to explain a math problem to "Ma and Pa Kettle" on YouTube