HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Bob Penny, an Alabama college professor and actor who performed small roles in movies including “Forrest Gump” and “Sweet Home Alabama,” has died at age 87.
Penny died on Christmas Day, according to an obituary from Laughlin Service Funeral Home in Huntsville. No cause of death was given.
Born in Anniston in 1935, Penny was a poet who spent three decades as an English professor, mostly teaching poetry and prose at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, AL.com reported.
During the 1980s, Penny found work on the side acting in TV commercials for a local department store as well as for a United Way campaign in Atlanta. Penny got deeper into acting after retiring from the university in 1990.
“Then the movies began to come,” Penny told AL.com in 2008. “I was really lucky. I had these very small roles, but they sure helped pay the mortgage.”
Penny appeared in more than 30 movies and TV series. He was credited as a “crony” in the 1994 film “Forrest Gump,” and played a bumbling, small-town lawyer in “Sweet Home Alabama,” released in 2002.
Penny’s other film credits included the movies “Mississippi Burning,” “My Cousin Vinny” and “The Legend of Bagger Vance,” as well as the TV series “In the Heat of the Night.”
When he wasn’t acting on film, Penny took parts in theater productions in Birmingham, where he performed onstage in plays including “The Odd Couple” and “Don Juan in Hell.”
“Bob Penny captivated all of our hearts at Birmingham Festival Theatre and put his all into his work,” Rhonda Erbrick, chairwoman of the theater’s board, said in a statement. She added that Penny “is and was always an actor and a joy to be around.”