Chris Penn

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Chris Penn
Penn in Corky Romano (2001)
Christopher Shannon Penn

(1965-10-10)October 10, 1965
DiedJanuary 24, 2006(2006-01-24) (aged 40)
Resting placeHoly Cross Cemetery, Culver City, California, U.S.
Years active1976–2006
  • Steffiana De La Cruz (1993–1999)
  • Cristina Goldberg (Goldie) (2002–2006; his death)

Christopher Shannon Penn (October 10, 1965 – January 24, 2006) was an American actor. He was the brother of actor Sean Penn and musician Michael Penn. Noted as a skilled character actor, he was typically cast as a tough character, featured as a villain or a working-class thug, or in a comic role and had roles in such films as To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar, The Wild Life, Reservoir Dogs, The Funeral, Footloose, Rush Hour, Corky Romano, True Romance, Beethoven's 2nd, Short Cuts, The Boys Club, All the Right Moves, At Close Range, Pale Rider, and Starsky & Hutch. During his career Penn had won the Volpi Cup for Best Actor for his performance in The Funeral. He also provided the voice of corrupt cop Edward "Eddie" Pulaski in the video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

Penn was found dead in his apartment on January 24, 2006, at the age of 40. An autopsy revealed the primary cause for his death was "nonspecific cardiomyopathy" (heart disease).[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Penn was born in Los Angeles, California, to Leo Penn, an actor and director, and Eileen Ryan (née Annucci), an actress. His paternal grandparents were Jewish immigrants from Lithuania and Russia,[3] and his mother was a Catholic of Italian and Irish descent.[4] His older brothers are actor Sean Penn and musician Michael Penn.


Penn started acting at the age of 12 at the Loft Studio and made his film debut in 1979's Charlie and the Talking Buzzard, starring Christopher Hanks. In 1983, he was featured in Francis Ford Coppola's youth drama Rumble Fish and appeared in the high school football drama All the Right Moves as the best friend of Tom Cruise's character. He also appeared in the hit dance movie Footloose in 1984 as the best friend of Kevin Bacon's character; played a villain in the Clint Eastwood western Pale Rider (1985); and co-starred with his brother Sean Penn and mother Eileen Ryan in At Close Range (1986).

Penn, who had a black belt in karate,[5] appeared in the 1989 motion picture Best of the Best as Travis Brickley, a cocky member of the U.S. Karate team taking on the team from Korea. The film also starred James Earl Jones, Sally Kirkland, Eric Roberts, Phillip Rhee, and Simon Rhee. Penn reprised his role in 1993's Best of the Best 2.


Two of his more memorable performances were in Reservoir Dogs as Nice Guy Eddie and True Romance as Nicky Dimes (both characters in scripts written by Quentin Tarantino). In 1996 he won the award for Best Supporting Actor at the Venice Film Festival for The Funeral.

In 1990, Penn was cast in a season one episode of The Young Riders. He appeared as a villain and was killed by Josh Brolin's character James Butler "Jimmy" Hickok. In Robert Altman's 1993 ensemble film Short Cuts, Penn played a troubled swimming pool cleaner who is disturbed by his wife's profession (a telephone sex worker who takes calls from clients at home) to which Penn's character is sometimes obliged to listen.

In 1995, he played a confused highway patrolman searching for a car with three drag queens (played by Patrick Swayze, Wesley Snipes, and John Leguizamo) in To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar.

Penn appears in Jay-Z's 1998 music video "Can I Get A..." as a bartender who mixes drinks and dances. He also played the character Clive Cod in the 1998 film Rush Hour.


In 2001, Penn was meant to appear in American Pie 2 as Steve Stifler's father, but his scenes were eventually cut as there was insufficient time to include him in the film's plot. However, they appeared on the deleted scene reel on the DVD release.[6] Penn then went on to co-star opposite Peter Berg as the mafia brothers of Corky in Corky Romano. He also appeared as a fall guy in a criminal conspiracy in Murder by Numbers, alongside Sandra Bullock.

In 2003, he appeared on the Will & Grace episode "Fanilow", as Barry Manilow's tour director and a character who is interested romantically in Will. Penn was featured in an episode of the television crime drama Law & Order: Criminal Intent ("Death Roe") during the 2004–2005 season. He was also featured on the 2004 video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas as the voice of crooked officer Eddie Pulaski. Penn played himself on a 2005 episode of the HBO series Entourage. He appeared in The Darwin Awards, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival the day after his death.


Penn was found dead in his Santa Monica apartment on January 24, 2006, at the age of 40.[7] An autopsy and subsequent toxicology report performed by a Los Angeles County medical examiner revealed the primary cause of death was heart disease. The report also noted that the prescription drug promethazine with codeine and an enlarged heart were possible contributing factors to his death.[8] The toxicology report revealed that Valium, morphine, marijuana and an elevated level of codeine were found in his bloodstream.[9] Penn gained considerable weight throughout the 1990s. Sean Penn said in an interview on Larry King Live that his brother probably died because of his weight.[10]

Penn's grave is located at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.[11]



Year Title Role Notes
1979 Charlie and the Talking Buzzard Pete Credited as Christopher Penn (debut role)
1983 All the Right Moves Brian Credited as Christopher Penn
Rumble Fish B.J. Jackson Credited as Christopher Penn
Nobody's Heroes N/A Director/Producer/Writer
1984 Footloose Willard Credited as Christopher Penn
The Wild Life Tom Drake Credited as Christopher Penn
1985 Pale Rider Josh LaHood Credited as Christopher Penn
1986 At Close Range Tommy Credited as Christopher Penn
1987 Made in U.S.A. Tuck Credited as Christopher Penn
1989 Return from the River Kwai Lieutenant Crawford Credited as Christopher Penn
Best of the Best Travis Brickley Credited as Christopher Penn
1991 Mobsters Tommy Reina Credited as Christopher Penn
Leather Jackets Steve 'Big Steve' Credited as Christopher Penn
Future Kick 'Bang'
1992 Reservoir Dogs Eddie 'Nice Guy Eddie' Cabot
1993 Best of the Best II Travis Brickley Credited as Christopher Penn
The Music of Chance Floyd
The Pickle Gregory Stone
Short Cuts Jerry Kaiser
True Romance Detective Nicky Dimes
Josh and S.A.M. Derek Baxter
Beethoven's 2nd Floyd
1994 Imaginary Crimes Jarvis
1995 Fist of the North Star 'Jackal'
To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar Sheriff Dollard
Under the Hula Moon 'Turk' Dickson
Sacred Cargo Vince Kanevsky
1996 Mulholland Falls Detective Arthur Relyea
The Funeral 'Chez' Nominated – Film Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead
The Boys Club Luke
1997 Deceiver Detective Philip Braxton
1998 Papertrail FBI Agent Jason Enola
One Tough Cop Duke Finnerly
Rush Hour Clive
Family Attraction Father Short film
1999 The Florentine Bobby
2000 Cement Bill Holt
2001 Kiss Kiss (Bang Bang) Bubba
Corky Romano Peter Romano
2002 Murder by Numbers Ray
Redemption Tony Leggio Direct-to-video
Stealing Harvard David Loach
2003 American Pie: Beneath the Crust Vol. 2 Stiffler's Dad Deleted scenes
Masked and Anonymous Crew Guy #2
Shelter Island Sheriff DeLuca
2004 Starsky & Hutch Officer Manetti
After the Sunset Rowdy Fan
2006 The Darwin Awards Tom Posthumous release
Juarez: Stages of Fear Unknown Role Direct-to-video; also executive producer
Holly Freddie Posthumous release
2007 King of Sorrow Detective Enola Posthumous release
2013 Aftermath Tony Bricker Filmed in 2005; posthumous release (final film role)


Year Title Role Notes
1982 Magnum, P.I. Wounded Soldier in Vietnam Episode: "Heal Thyself"; credited as Christopher Penn
1985 North Beach and Rawhide Dan Donnelly TV movie
1987 Faerie Tale Theatre Will Tussennbrook Episode: "Rip Van Winkle"; credited as Christopher Penn
1990 The Young Riders Brad Episode: "Matched Pair"
1995 Chicago Hope Kevin Fitzpatrick Episode: "Life Support"
1996 Dead Man's Walk 'Goodnight' Miniseries

Episode: "#1.2"

2002 AFP: American Fighter Pilot Narrator Voice role
2003 CSI: Miami Pete Wilton Episode: "Grave Young Men"
The Brotherhood of Poland, New Hampshire Waylon Shaw Series regular (6 episodes)
Will & Grace Rudy Episode: "Fanilow"
2005 Law & Order: Criminal Intent Tommy Onerato Episode: "Death Roe"
Everwood Frank Sullivan Episode: "Fate Accomplis"
Entourage Chris Penn (Himself) Episode: "An Offer Refused"

Music videos[edit]

Year Title Role Artist
1995 "Somebody's Crying" Beachgoer Chris Isaak
1998 "Can I Get A..." Bartender Jay-Z feat. Ja Rule & Amil

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2004 Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Officer Eddie Pulaski Voice role
2021 Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy - The Definitive Edition Officer Eddie Pulaski Archival recordings; remaster of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas only


  1. ^ "The price of fame: The final reel of Chris Penn". The Independent. London. 26 January 2006. Archived from the original on February 3, 2006. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  2. ^ Hartlaub, Peter (31 January 2006). "Let us praise Chris Penn—in all his guises". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  3. ^ Tugend, Tom (March 5, 2004). "Jews Flop in Big Oscar Award Wins". The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. Archived from the original on 28 April 2005. Retrieved August 31, 2018.
  4. ^ Kelly, Richard T. (2004). Sean Penn: His Life and Times. New York City: Canongate Books. pp. 9–10. ISBN 978-1841956237.
  5. ^ "Chris Penn". Martial Arts & Action Entertainment. 2015-01-25. Retrieved July 16, 2020.
  6. ^ "American Pie 2 (2001)". IMDb. Retrieved 2020-07-16.
  7. ^ "Actor Chris Penn Found Dead in his Santa Monica Home". Surf Santa Monica. January 25, 2006. Retrieved August 31, 2018.
  8. ^ "10 Fallen Stars and Their Toxicology Reports". HowStuffWorks. September 7, 2012. Retrieved July 16, 2020.
  9. ^ Siverman, Stephen M. (February 23, 2006). "Drugs in Chris Penn's System: Toxicologist". People. Retrieved December 16, 2020.
  10. ^ Silverman, Stephen M. (September 14, 2006). "Sean Penn: Chris's Weight Killed Him". People. Retrieved August 31, 2018.
  11. ^ "Photographer disrupts Chris Penn funeral". UPI. Culver City, California. February 5, 2006. Retrieved August 31, 2018.

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