Bob Penny, star of multiple Hollywood films, dies at 87

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama (AP) — Bob Penny is a University of Alabama professor who has been in films including “Forrest Gump” and “Sweet Home Alabama.” Playing small roles, at 87.

Penny died on Christmas Day, according to an obituary from the Laughlin Services Funeral Home in Huntsville. No cause of death was given.

Penny, born in Anniston in 1935, is a poet who taught English for 30 years, primarily poetry and prose at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, according to

In the 1980s, Penny found part-time work promoting television commercials for a local department store and the United Way in Atlanta. After retiring from college in 1990, Penny delved into acting.

“Then the movies started coming out,” Penny told in 2008. “I’m really lucky. I have these very small roles, but they do help pay the mortgage.”

Penny has appeared in more than 30 movies and TV shows. He was credited as “nepotism” in the 1994 film “Forrest Gump” and played a bumbling small-town lawyer in the 2002 film “Sweet Home Alabama.”

Penny’s other film credits include the films Burning Mississippi, My Cousin Pooh and The Legend of Bagger Vance, and the television series In the Heat of the Night.

When he’s not making films, Penny takes part in theater productions in Birmingham, where he’s performed on stage in plays such as ‘The Odd Couple’ and ‘Don Juan in Hell’.

“Bob Penny captured the hearts of all of us at the Birmingham Festival Theater and gave his all to his work,” theater board chair Rhonda Ebrick said in a statement. She added that Penny “is and has always been an actress, and it’s been a joy to be with her.”

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