|Born||Lawrence Kenneth Pennell
February 21, 1928
Uniontown, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Died||August 28, 2013(aged 85)|
|Other names||Bud Pennell|
|Occupation||Film & Television Actor
Professional Baseball Player
Lawrence Kenneth "Bud" Pennell (February 21, 1928 – August 28, 2013) was an American television and film actor, often remembered for his role as "Dash Riprock" in the television series The Beverly Hillbillies. His career spanned five decades, including starring in the first-run syndicated adventure series Ripcord in the leading role of Ted McKeever, as well as playing Keith Holden in the television series Lassie. He was also a former baseball player, playing on scholarship for the University of Southern California and later professionally for the Boston Braves.
Early life and education
Pennell was born in Uniontown, Pennsylvania to entrepreneur Harold Pennell and homemaker Ruth Pennell. His parents moved to Niagara Falls, New York during the Great Depression in search of better opportunities. After a short time in New York, the family moved to California where they lived in a studio apartment overlooking Angels Flight in Downtown Los Angeles. His family moved again when he was still young, purchasing a home near Paramount Studios in Hollywood, California. He became a newsboy on the studio lot, but athletics distracted him from any early interest in film.
Pennell played baseball throughout his youth. He attended Hollywood High School where he played first baseman and was later inducted into the school's athletic hall of fame. He was recruited by Rod Dedeaux to play baseball at USC where he played beginning in 1947. Pennell attended the university on a full baseball scholarship and became one of the school's all-time letter winners. He left school early to play professionally for the Boston Braves.
Just shy of graduating from USC, Pennell left the university to play professionally for the Boston Braves. During his time with the Braves, his teammates often referred to him as "Bud", a nickname that stuck with him throughout his life. He was with the organization for a total of seven seasons between 1948 and 1954, playing first base and outfield for the Evansville Braves, Boston's minor league affiliate.
In his first year in professional ball, he broke the Appalachian League record for runs batted in with 147 and hit .338 for the season while belting 18 home runs. He was portrayed in Hall of Famer, Eddie Mathews' autobiography as a "fun-loving teammate." He did not play during the 1950-1953 seasons due to his service during the Korean War. He served in counter intelligence in the United States Army and received an honorable discharge upon completion of his service. Upon his return home, his baseball contract was purchased by the Brooklyn Dodgers. Pennell never reported to spring training for the Dodgers and instead decided to pursue acting, a career he dabbled in during the off seasons. Regarding his retirement from baseball, sportswriter Furman Bisher was quoted as saying, "his future seemed unlimited...I shall always be frustrated by a desire to know how great a star he might have become."
In the baseball off-seasons, Pennell would return home to Hollywood, where the entertainment industry was omnipresent. As the seasons passed his interest in the industry and acting in particular continued to evolve. Shortly after his contract was purchased by the Brooklyn organization, he decided not to report spring training and instead began his career in films. After being seen by a talent scout, Pennell got a screen test at Paramount Pictures where he went under contract. Then he traveled to New York City to learn his new craft from drama icons such as Sanford Meisner and Stella Adler.
It was in 1955 when Pennell's acting career was officially launched. He appeared in his first role as Oliver Brown in the movie Seven Angry Men, a film about abolitionist John Brown, starring Raymond Massey. That role led him to a lead in Hell's Horizon, which was followed by The Far Horizons, starring Charleton Heston and Donna Reed. His next film role was as George Crandall opposite Jimmy Stewart in The FBI Story. Other numerous roles followed, including the lead role in the race car drama Devil’s Hairpin. Early in his acting career, Pennell went to Europe and appeared in a number of films there including the western Old Surehand, a German production based upon a Karl May novel. In European films he was occasionally credited as Alessandro Pennelli. He returned to the United States and made guest appearances in such western television series as Death Valley Days, The Alaskans, The Outlaws, Wagon Train, The Big Valley, The Virginian, and Bonanza.
In 1961, Pennell landed the leading role of the handsome, headstrong, youthful and colorful Ted McKeever in the first-run syndicated television show Ripcord, an action/adventure series about skydiving. This show, in which co-starred Ken Curtis as his inseparable level-headed older mentor and partner Jim Buckley, ran for a total of 76 episodes between 1961 and 1963, which inspired a range of tie-in merchandise such as toy parachutes, board games, clean slates, reading books, comic books and coloring books, to name a few. More television guest appearances followed on The Outer Limits, Thriller, The Twilight Zone, Sea Hunt, The Aquanauts, The Everglades (TV series) and Dragnet (franchise). It was in 1965 that he debuted in one of his most memorable roles on The Beverly Hillbillies, as Dash Riprock, the movie star courting Elly May Clampett (played by Donna Douglas) in "Elly in the Movies" (Season 3, Episode 16). He appeared in a total of ten episodes of that sitcom show. It was his role as Dash Riprock that inspired the name of the rock band Dash Rip Rock, that was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame. After The Beverly Hillbillies, Pennell had recurring roles in other television series like The Fugitive, My Friend Tony and Salvage 1.
Throughout his career, Pennell continued to appear in a variety of genres in television including series and movies made for television. He was cast in a lead role in the CBS series Lassie as Keith Holden in 1972. He made guest starring appearances in shows including Mannix, Mission Impossible, The Streets of San Francisco, McMillan and Wife, Magnum, P.I., Silk Stalkings, Diagnosis Murder, Quantum Leap and Firefly and soap operas including General Hospital and The Young and the Restless.
Pennell’s film credits include roles in films such as The Great White Hope (1970), starring James Earl Jones and Jane Alexander in which Pennell played former heavyweight champion Frank Brady. Pennell also appeared in the big budget World War II film Midway (1976), as “Captain Cyril Simard”, alongside actors Charlton Heston and Henry Fonda. He had roles in other major films such as The Revengers, Journey Through Rosebud and Matilda. Pennell bore a striking resemblance to Clark Gable and played the icon in three roles. One of his notable roles as Gable was in the television film Marilyn: The Untold Story (1980). It was said of his work in that role "Pennell’s performance is a little gem." In 1992, Pennell and Tom Selleck rejoined for a third time to appear in Mr. Baseball. Other films include The Fear (1999), Bubba Ho-Tep (2002) starring Ossie Davis, Five Minutes (short film) (2002), Last Confession (another short film) (2005), Seasons of Life(2006) and The Passing (2011).
Pennell continued to experiment with his acting and writing craft in study with drama masters such as Milton Katselis and Daniel Mann. Pennell’s stage work encompassed over 50 plays plays including The Poker Game, Desperate Hours, Pieces of Time and Dead Autumn’s Soul. He wrote and starred in The Signing and Close-Up and won best actor at The Method Fest 2002 for his work in the short film Five Minutes. Throughout his career, Pennell accumulated over 400 credits in roles across stage, film and television, in addition to commercials and print advertisements.
Select film credits
|2011||The Passing||Horror film||Charles|
|2006||Seasons of Life||Film||Lauren's Father|
|2005||Last Confession||Short film||Father Conklin|
|2002||Bubba Ho-Tep||Comedy horror film||Kemosabe|
|2002||Rogue||Drama film||The Voice|
|2001||Jackpot||Comedy drama film||Truck driver|
|2001||5 Minutes||Short film||Harkness|
|2001||The Cross||Drama film||Man with Lamb|
|1999||The Fear: Resurrection||Horror film||Grandfather|
|1992||Mr. Baseball||Film||Howie Gold|
|1991||The Borrower||Drama film||Captain Scarcelli|
|1989||Another Chance||Drama film||Clark Gable|
|1987||Ghost Chase||Drama film||Bum|
|1983||The Night the Bridge Fell Down||Action film||Ghief Barrett|
|1983||Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn||Science fiction film||Aix|
|1982||Superstition||Drama film||George Leahy|
|1982||Personal Best||Drama film||Rick Cahill|
|1980||Marilyn: The Untold Story||Made for T.V. movie||Clark Gable|
|1980||The Man with Bogart's Face||Comedy film||George|
|1979||Elvis||Made for T.V. movie|
|1978||Matilda||Dram film||Lee Dockerty|
|1976||Helter Skelter||Made for T.V. movie||Sgt. White|
|1976||Midway||Drama film||Captain Cyril Simard|
|1972||Lassie: Joyous Sound||TV Movie||Keith Holden|
|1972||The Revengers||Western film||Arny|
|1972||Journey Through Rosebud||Western film||Sheriff|
|1970||Brother, Cry for Me||Adventure film||Jim Noble|
|1970||The Great White Hope||Drama film||Brady|
|1965||Our Man in Jamaica||Adventure film||Ken Stewart (as Alessandro Pennelli)|
|1959||The FBI Story||Drama film||George Crandall|
|1958||The Space Children||Science fiction film||Major Thomas|
|1957||The Devil's Hairpin||Adventure film||Johnny Jargin|
|1955||Hell's Horizon||Drama film||Buddy Lewis|
|1955||The Far Horizons||Western film||Wild Eagle|
|1955||Seven Angry Men||Western film||Oliver Brown|
Select television credits
|2002||Firefly||Television series||Murphy (Episode Shindig)|
|1997||Silk Stalkings||Television series||Dr. Kurland (Episode - The Wedge)|
|1997||Diagnosis Murder||Television series||Dr. Arthur (Episode - Looks Can Kill)|
|1993||Quantum Leap||Television series||Clark Gable (Episode - Goodbye Norma Jean)|
|1982-86||Magnum, P.I.||Television series||Norm Vogel & Jack Martin|
|1979||B. J. and the Bear||Television series||Mary Ellen|
|1979||Salvage 1||Television series||Street|
|1977||Little House on the Prairie||Television series||Ben Griffin|
|1977||Hunter||Television series||Michael Orlin|
|1974||Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color||Television series||Dave Fletcher|
|1974||The Rookies||Television series||Henry Glass|
|1974||Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law||Television series||Sgt. Bill Carrington|
|1974||Apple's Way||Television series||Sam Ferguson|
|1973-74||The Streets of San Francisco||Television series||Becker / High School Coach - 2 episodes|
|1973||Banacek||Television series||Pete Biesecker|
|1973||The Young and the Restless||Television series||Judge Chet Ashford|
|1972-73||Lassie||Television series||Keith Holden|
|1971-74||McMillan & Wife||Television series||Agent Cushing|
|1971-72||O'Hara, U.S. Treasury||Television series||Charles Donaldson / S.A Peter Wade|
|1971||Longstreet||Television series||Ward Blakeman|
|1971||City Beneath the Sea||Television series||Bill Holmes|
|1970||Family Affair||Television series||Ken Granger|
|1970||Mission: Impossible||Television series||Karl Burroughs|
|1969-71||Mannix||Television series||Agent Barnes / Troy McBride - 2 episodes|
|1969||Bracken's World||Television series||Chuck|
|1969||Land of the Giants||Television series||Guard|
|1969||Mayberry R.F.D.||Television series||Chuck|
|1969||My Friend Tony||Television series|
|1968-74||Gunsmoke||Television series||John Woolfe|
|1968||Dragnet 1967||Television series||John Anzo / Police Commission|
|1967||Cimarron Strip||Television series||Rapp|
|1967||Custer||Television series||Chief Yellow Hawk|
|1967||Three for Danger||Television series||Chris|
|1967||The Big Valley||Television series||Jack Kilbain|
|1966||Blue Light||Television series||Nick Brady|
|1965||Branded||Television series||Tuck Fraser|
|1965-69||The Beverly Hillbillies||Television series||Dash Riprock|
|1965||Old Surehand||Television series||General Jack O'Neal|
|1965||Kraft Suspense Theatre||Television series||Phil Scanlon|
|1964-67||The Virginian||Television series||Carl Rand / Wally Koerner|
|1964||Mr. Broadway||Television series||John Chambers|
|1964||The Outer Limits||Television series||Dr. Evan Marshall|
|1964||Wagon Train||Television series||Marshal Trace McCloud in episode The Trace McCloud Story|
|1963||General Hospital||Television series||Hank Pulaski|
|1961-1963||Ripcord||Television series||Ted McKeever|
|1961||Sea Hunt||Television series||Steve|
|1961||Bat Masterson||Television series||Cal Beamus|
|1961||The Case of the Dangerous Robin||Television series|
|1961||Thriller||Television series||Larry Weeks|
|1961||Outlaws||Television series||Bob Dalton|
|1960||Zane Grey Theater||Television series||Tully|
|1960||Klondike||Television series||Rule Lukas|
|1960||Death Valley Days||Television series||Roner Maxwell|
|1960||The Aquanauts||Television series||Tyler Sack|
|1960||Tales of Wells Fargo||Television series||Ben Hardie|
|1960||The Alaskans||Television series||Harry Seattle|
|1959||Adventures in Paradise||Television series||Dr. Patrick Donovan|
|1959||Have Gun - Will Travel||Television series||Henry Carver|
|1958||Cimarron City||Television series||Drew McGowan|
|1958||The Rough Riders||Television series||Creed Pearce|
|1958||Steve Canyon||Television series||Lt. Hawk Cameron|
|1958||Tombstone Territory||Television series||Bill Doolin|
|1958-60||The Millionaire||Television series||Larry Maxwell|
|1957||Schlitz Playhouse||Television series||Bob|
|1956||Wire Service||Television series||Johnny|
|1956-57||West Point||Television series||Bob Matson|
|1956||Studio 57||Television series||Bruce|
|1956||General Electric Theater||Television series||Ealter Kellen|
Select theater credits
- Dream a Little Dream – Lead - Company of Angels, Los Angeles
- Sing the Song Lady – Lead - Network Studio, North Hollywood
- Monroe – Lead - Crystal Sands, Hilton Head, S.C.
- The Signing (Written by Larry Pennell) – Lead - Stella Adler Theater, Beverly Hills Playhouse
- Close-Up (Written by Larry Pennell) – Lead - Stella Adler Theater, Beverly Hills Playhouse
- Pieces of time – Lead - Pan Andreas Theater, Hollywood
- Desperate Hours – Lead - New Dramatist’s, Inc., New York City
- Dead Autumn’s Soul – Lead - New York City
- The Poker Game – Lead - (Pre-Broadway) New York City
- Mary, Mary – Lead - Tiffany’s Attic Theater, Kansas City
Pennell met his wife Patricia Throop, a fashion model, actress, former Miss Oregon and finalist in the Miss America Pageant, when shooting a film. Throughout his life he enjoyed sports of all kinds such as baseball, football, tennis, boxing, running and horseback riding. Also he was an avid historian and a patriot with ancestral links in the American Revolution and the Mayflower Compact. Pennell died on August 28, 2013 at age 85.
- Levy, Sam (24 March 1949). "Pennel - Lanky First Baseman With Brewers Definitely on Way Up". The Milwaukee Journal (via Google Archives). Retrieved 16 October 2014.
- Lentz III, Harris M. (2014). Obituaries in the Performing Arts, 2013. McFarland. ISBN 9780786476657. Retrieved 16 October 2014.
- Beck, Ken (2002). The Encyclopedia of TV Pets: A Complete History of Television's Greatest Animal Stars. Thomas Nelson, Inc. ISBN 9781418557379. Retrieved 16 October 2014.
- "Boost for Lakeman". The Milwaukee Journal (via Google News Archives). 4 April 1949. Retrieved 16 October 2014.
- "Sold Papers to Stars, Now An Actor Too". Hollywood, California: Citizen News. 4 May 1954. p. 11.
- Scott, Vernon (19 September 1957). "Actor Would Fight For Film Part". The Desert News. Retrieved 16 October 2014.
- "All-Time Baseball Letter Winners". University of Southern California Trojans. Retrieved 16 October 2014.
- "Coaches Want Protection From OB". New York NY PM. 7 January 1948.
- "Blow Comes In Eighth With One On". Evansville Press (no link available). 19 May 1949.
- Mathews, Eddie; Beuge, Bob (1994). Eddie Mathews and the National Pastime. Douglas Amer Sports Pubns. ISBN 9781882134410.
- "Baseball Loses Larry Pennell to Films". The Desert News. 22 July 1954.
- Bisher, Furman (11 July 1959). "My Baseball Farmlands". The Saturday Evening Post.
- "From Baseball To Acting". Radio TV Mirror (from archive). July 1961. Retrieved 13 November 2014.
- Hopper, Hedda (11 June 1954). "Gary Cooper, Burt Lancaster to Co-Star in Another Film". Chicago Tribune (Archives). Retrieved 16 October 2014.
- "Review: The FBI Story". Variety. 31 December 1958. Retrieved 13 November 2014.
- Weisser, Thomas. Spaghetti Westerns--the Good, the Bad and the Violent. McFarland. ISBN 9781476611693.
- "The Bonanza Stars". Connellsville, Pennsylvania: The Daily Courier. 2 September 1967. Retrieved 13 November 2014.
- Streckert, Hal. "Ripcord!". Parachutist. Retrieved 16 October 2014.
- McDaniel, Randy (1 June 2013). "Remember Dash Riprock On The Beverly Hillbillies". Classic KXRB Country 1000. Retrieved 13 November 2014.
- Compo, Susan (2009). Warren Oates: A Wild Life. University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 9780813139180.
- Williams, Randy (2006). Sports Cinema 100 Movies: The Best of Hollywood's Athletic Heroes, Losers, Myths, and Misfits. Hal Leonard Corporation. ISBN 9780879103316. Retrieved 16 October 2014.