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Richard Crenna
Richard Crenna, portraying Luke McCoy, in the television series, The Real McCoys, in 1961.
Born Richard Donald Crenna
(1926-11-30)November 30, 1926
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Died January 17, 2003(2003-01-17) (aged 76)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of death Congestive heart failure
Place of burial crematory ashes given to family and friends
Nationality American
Alma mater University of Southern California
Occupation Actor, director, producer
Years active 1937–2003
Spouse(s) Penni Sweeney (m. 1959–2003) (his death)

Richard Donald Crenna (November 30, 1926 – January 17, 2003) was an American motion picture, television, and radio actor[1] and occasional television director.[2]

Richard Crenna starred in such motion pictures as The Sand Pebbles, Wait Until Dark,[2] Un Flic, Body Heat,[2] the first three Rambo movies,[1] Hot Shots! Part Deux,[1] the remake of Sabrina, and The Flamingo Kid. Crenna played "Walter Denton" in the CBS radio network and CBS-TV network series Our Miss Brooks and "Luke McCoy" in ABC's TV comedy series The Real McCoys, (1957–63), which moved to CBS-TV in September 1962.

Early life[edit | edit source]

Crenna was born in Los Angeles, the only child of Edith J. (née Pollette), who was a hotel manager in LA, and Dominick Anthony Crenna, a pharmacist. His parents were both of Italian descent.[3] Crenna attended Virgil Junior High School, followed by Belmont High School in Los Angeles.

World War II service[edit | edit source]

Following high school, Richard Crenna served in the U.S. Army during World War II, serving in the infantry as a radioman, where he saw combat in the European Theater at the Battle of the Bulge. Crenna also served in the Pacific Theater decoding Japanese intercepts.

Education[edit | edit source]

After World War II, Richard Crenna attended the University of Southern California where he majored in English.[2][4]

Acting career[edit | edit source]

Radio years[edit | edit source]

Richard Crenna got his acting start on radio. In 1937, he had gained his first role that of "the kid who did everything wrong" on Boy Scout Jamboree, a show on which he continued to appear occasionally in numerous roles until 1948. In the following year, he started playing Walter "Bronco" Thompson on The Great Gildersleeve, and played it until the show's end in 1957. He appeared as a delivery boy in My Favorite Husband episode "Liz Cooks Dinner for 12", was Oogie Pringle on A Date With Judy episode "The Competitive Diet" and several other episodes from the show and as a teenager on The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show episode "Watching the Neighbor's Daughter".

Early television years[edit | edit source]

From 1948 to 1952 Richard Crenna played Walter Denton on Our Miss Brooks and remained with the cast when they moved it to a television show. He guest starred on the I Love Lucy episode "The Young Fans" with Janet Waldo and on NBC's 1955–56 anthology series, Frontier, in the lead role of the episode entitled "The Ten Days of John Leslie".[citation needed] In 1956, on the television series Father Knows Best, Crenna appeared in the episode "The Promising Young Man" as a protege named Woody. In 1957, he played a bank robber on the Cheyenne show (season 2, episode 19).

When the 1948-1957 TV series Our Miss Brooks starring Eve Arden underwent a change in format, Richard Crenna's character, Walter Denton, was written off this series. Then Crenna joined the cast of the comedy series The Real McCoys, as Luke McCoy. Kathleen Nolan was cast as his young wife, Kate McCoy, in this series. Later, Crenna became one of the four directors of the series during its six-year run (1957–1963).

1960s-1970s[edit | edit source]

In the 1960s, Richard Crenna directed many of the episodes of the Andy Griffith Show.

Crenna and Kathleen Nolan in The Real McCoys, 1960

Crenna portrayed the state senator James Slattery of California in the TV series, Slattery's People (1964–66), and for his acting in this series, he was twice nominated for Emmy Awards with slightly different names: for "Outstanding Individual Achievements in Entertainment", in 1965, and for "Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Dramatic Series", in 1965. Crenna was also nominated for a Golden Globe Award for "Best TV Star – Male" in 1965, for this same role. In 1966, Crenna played the ill-fated captain of an American gunboat, in 1920s China, in The Sand Pebbles.

During the 1970s, Crenna continued his acting in such Western dramas such as Catlow, Breakheart Pass, and The Man Called Noon. He made a notable performance in Jean-Pierre Melville's final film Un Flic in 1972. In the 1978 NBC mini-series, Centennial, based on the James A. Michener, historical novel, of the same name, Crenna played the part of the deranged, religious fanatic, Colonel Frank Skimmerhorn, who ordered the massacre of Native Americans, in 1864 Colorado.

Crenna and Bernadette Peters in All's Fair, 1976

1980s-early 2000s[edit | edit source]

Crenna won an Emmy Award,[2] and a nomination for a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television,[citation needed] for his performance as the main character in the 1985 movie The Rape of Richard Beck.[5] Crenna is perhaps best known today for his role as John Rambo's ex-commanding officer Colonel Sam Trautman in the first three Rambo films, a role for which he was hired after the actor Kirk Douglas left the production just one day into the filming of the first movie of the series. Crenna himself also spoofed this character in the movie Hot Shots! Part Deux, in 1993. Crenna portrayed the character of New York City Police Lieutenant of Detectives Frank Janek in a series of seven popular made for television films starting in 1988 and ending in 1994. The character of Janek originally appeared in a series of novels by Award-winning author William Bayer.

Honors[edit | edit source]

Crenna was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame located at 6714 Hollywood Boulevard.

Illnesses and death[edit | edit source]

Richard Crenna suffered from pancreatic cancer during his later years, but he reportedly died of congestive heart failure in 2003. His remains were cremated, and the ashes were given to family and friends.[6][7] At the time of his death, Crenna was portraying the recurring character "Jared Duff" in Judging Amy. His death necessitated scripting Duff's death on that television series as well.

Popular culture[edit | edit source]

Crenna's performances were also reportedly the inspiration for the character "Colonel Roy Campbell" in the Metal Gear series of games.

Filmography[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

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