Bob Penny, a character actor with roles in “Forrest Gump” and “Sweet Home Alabama,” died Sunday. He was 87 years old.
Penny’s cause of death was not revealed in an online obituary shared by the Laughlin Service Funeral Home.
Additional credits included “Fried Green Tomatoes”, “When Will I Be Loved”, “Mississippi Burning”, “My Cousin Vinny” and “The Legend of Bagger Vance”, as well as seven episodes of the television series “In the Heat of the night.”
Born in Anniston, Alabama in 1935, Penny appeared in over 30 movies and television shows throughout his acting career. Before acting, he spent three decades as an English teacher and taught poetry at the University of Alabama.
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He received his master’s degree in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a doctorate from the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa.
Penny has received numerous awards over the years, both for her teaching and her poetry.
During the 1980s, Penny found parallel work in television commercials for a local department store and for a United Way campaign in Atlanta.
He retired from teaching in 1990 and continued his acting career.
“Then the movies started coming in,” Penny told AL.com in 2008. “I was very lucky. I got these very small roles, but they definitely helped pay the mortgage.”
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He was credited as a “buddy” in the 1994 Tom Hanks film “Forrest Gump” and appeared as small-town lawyer Wallace Buford in 2002’s “Sweet Home Alabama” starring Reese Witherspoon.
Penny has also participated in theater and performed on stage in productions of plays including ‘The Odd Couple’ and ‘Don Juan in Hell’ in Birmingham.
“Bob Penny has captured all of our hearts at the Birmingham Festival Theater and put his all into his work,” Rhonda Erbrick, chair of the theatre’s board, said in a statement. She added that Penny “is and always has been an actress and a joy to be around.”
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Penny is survived by her brother, sister, six nieces and one nephew.
“A special thank you goes out to longtime friend/caregiver, Lakin Boyd,” his online obituary reads.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.