Larry Pennell

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Larry Pennell
Larry Pennell Headshot Suit.png
Born Lawrence Kenneth Pennell
(1928-02-21)February 21, 1928
Uniontown, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died August 28, 2013(2013-08-28) (aged 85)
Other names Bud Pennell
Occupation Film & Television Actor
Professional Baseball Player[1]

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.[2] 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.[3] He was also a former baseball player, playing on scholarship for the University of Southern California and later professionally for the Boston Braves.[1][4]

Early life and education[edit]

Pennell was born in Uniontown, Pennsylvania to entrepreneur Harold Pennell and homemaker Ruth Pennell.[2] 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.[5] 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.[5]

Pennell played baseball throughout his youth. He attended Hollywood High School[6] 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.[1] Pennell attended the university on a full baseball scholarship and became one of the school's all-time letter winners.[7] He left school early to play professionally for the Boston Braves.[8]

Baseball career[edit]

Larry Pennell playing with the Boston Braves in 1949.

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.[9]

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.[1] He was portrayed in Hall of Famer, Eddie Mathews' autobiography as a "fun-loving teammate."[10] He did not play during the 1950-1953 seasons due to his service during the Korean War.[11] 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.[11] 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."[12][13]

Acting career[edit]

Larry Pennell as General Jack O' Neal in Old Surehand.

In the baseball off-seasons, Pennell would return home to Hollywood, where the entertainment industry was omnipresent.[11] 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.[14] Then he traveled to New York City to learn his new craft from drama icons such as Sanford Meisner and Stella Adler.[11]

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.[2] 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.[15] 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.[16] In European films he was occasionally credited as Alessandro Pennelli.[16] 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.[17]

Larry Pennell as Dash Riprock posing with Donna Douglas from The Beverly Hillbillies.

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.[18] 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.[18] 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).[19] 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.[20]

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.[3] 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.[2]

Larry Pennell as Jack Kilbaine in the Big Valley: The Price of Victory.

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.[2] 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."[2] In 1992, Pennell and Tom Selleck rejoined for a third time to appear in Mr. Baseball.[21] 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).[2]

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[edit]

Year Title Medium Role
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 Forgiven Short film Potter
1999 The Fear: Resurrection[2] 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[2] 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[15]
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[2] Western film Oliver Brown

Select television credits[edit]

Year Title Medium Role
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 Rango Television series
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[19]
1965 Old Surehand Television series General Jack O'Neal[16]
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[edit]

  • 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
Larry Pennell and his wife Patricia.
  • 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

Personal life[edit]

Pennell met his wife Patricia Throop, a fashion model, actress, former Miss Oregon and finalist in the Miss America Pageant, when shooting a film.[13] 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.[13] Pennell died on August 28, 2013 at age 85.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d 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. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Lentz III, Harris M. (2014). Obituaries in the Performing Arts, 2013. McFarland. ISBN 9780786476657. Retrieved 16 October 2014. 
  3. ^ a b 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. 
  4. ^ "Boost for Lakeman". The Milwaukee Journal (via Google News Archives). 4 April 1949. Retrieved 16 October 2014. 
  5. ^ a b "Sold Papers to Stars, Now An Actor Too". Hollywood, California: Citizen News. 4 May 1954. p. 11. 
  6. ^ Scott, Vernon (19 September 1957). "Actor Would Fight For Film Part". The Desert News. Retrieved 16 October 2014. 
  7. ^ "All-Time Baseball Letter Winners". University of Southern California Trojans. Retrieved 16 October 2014. 
  8. ^ "Coaches Want Protection From OB". New York NY PM. 7 January 1948. 
  9. ^ "Blow Comes In Eighth With One On". Evansville Press (no link available). 19 May 1949. 
  10. ^ Mathews, Eddie; Beuge, Bob (1994). Eddie Mathews and the National Pastime. Douglas Amer Sports Pubns. ISBN 9781882134410. 
  11. ^ a b c d "Baseball Loses Larry Pennell to Films". The Desert News. 22 July 1954. 
  12. ^ Bisher, Furman (11 July 1959). "My Baseball Farmlands". The Saturday Evening Post. 
  13. ^ a b c "From Baseball To Acting". Radio TV Mirror (from archive). July 1961. Retrieved 13 November 2014. 
  14. ^ Hopper, Hedda (11 June 1954). "Gary Cooper, Burt Lancaster to Co-Star in Another Film". Chicago Tribune (Archives). Retrieved 16 October 2014. 
  15. ^ a b "Review: The FBI Story". Variety. 31 December 1958. Retrieved 13 November 2014. 
  16. ^ a b c Weisser, Thomas. Spaghetti Westerns--the Good, the Bad and the Violent. McFarland. ISBN 9781476611693. 
  17. ^ "The Bonanza Stars". Connellsville, Pennsylvania: The Daily Courier. 2 September 1967. Retrieved 13 November 2014. 
  18. ^ a b Streckert, Hal. "Ripcord!". Parachutist. Retrieved 16 October 2014. 
  19. ^ a b McDaniel, Randy (1 June 2013). "Remember Dash Riprock On The Beverly Hillbillies". Classic KXRB Country 1000. Retrieved 13 November 2014. 
  20. ^ Compo, Susan (2009). Warren Oates: A Wild Life. University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 9780813139180. 
  21. ^ 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.