Notoriously photo-shy in his teenage years, actor Joe Penny would skip school on picture day. He is listed as "missing in action" in every yearbook of Marina High School in Huntington Beach, California. After high school, he studied with renowned acting teacher Lee Strasberg, and worked as a laborer while seeking acting gigs. He secured his first job in 1977, on "Forever Fernwood", a spinoff of the soap opera parody "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman". By the time the 1980s arrived, Penny had a substantial roster of minor roles behind him, and he began to move into the starring parts. His first major television program was "Riptide", in 1984. He played Nick Ryder, a soldier who starts a detective agency in Los Angeles along with a partner, played by Perry King,. That show came to an end after three seasons, and it didn't take long before he was appearing in another lead role, playing another private investigator. In the crime drama "Jake and the Fatman", he played Jake Styles, who worked for a crusty old prosecutor, played by William Conrad. The show proved to be another hit for Penny, running for five seasons. He has remained one of the most recognizable faces on television, having since gone on to appear in multitudes of TV shows usually playing cops, mobsters, and detectives.