Bob Penny, a poet and professor who after retirement appeared in small parts in movies including Forrest Gump, Sweet Home Alabama and My Cousin Vinny and in the TV series In the Heat of the Night, died December 25 in Huntsville, AL. He was 87.
His death was announced on the website of Huntsville’s Laughlin Service Funeral Home & Crematory. No cause of death was given.
Penny, born in Anniston, AL, grew up in North Carolina before returning to Alabama where he taught poetry and prose at the University of Alabama at Birmingham for 21 years. He won a regional award for his own poetry and appeared in dozens of dramatic productions throughout the Southeast, receiving an Applause Award for theater from the Alabama School of Fine Arts in 1996.
After a 32-year teaching career, Penny retired and pursued film and TV roles, landing small parts in movies including playing Curtis Foy in 1988’s Mississippi Burning; a bailiff and a juror in Fried Green Tomatoes and My Cousin Vinny, respectively; a “crony” in 1995 Oscar Best Picture winner Forrest Gump; and in The Legend of Bagger Vance and Sweet Home Alabama among others.
On the TV side, he appeared in several small-screen movies and series including per IMDb seven episodes of NBC’s (and later CBS’) In the Heat of the Night starring Carroll O’Connor and Howard E. Rollins Jr.
Penny is survived by his brother William Earl Penny (Betty); sister, Jean Marion Yount; six nieces; and one nephew.