Richard Crenna

Actor, Director, Producer
An often underappreciated actor capable of playing the heroic leading man, the devious villain, or comedic foil with equal ability, Richard Crenna enjoyed an amazingly robust 50-year career in film and on television ... Read more »
Born: 11/29/1926 in Los Angeles, California, USA

Filmography

Actor (126)

Hard Ride to Rantan 2014 (Movie)

(Actor)

History Vs. Hollywood 2001 - 2002 (TV Show)

Actor

I Love Lucy -- 50th Anniversary Special 2001 - 2002 (TV Show)

Actor

Judging Amy 1976 - 1977, 2000 - 2002 (Tv Show)

Actor

American Veteran Awards 2000 - 2001 (TV Show)

Actor

By Dawn's Early Light 2000 - 2001 (TV Show)

Actor

Chicago Hope 1976 - 1977, 1998 - 2001 (Tv Show)

Actor

Commander-in-Chief 2000 - 2001 (TV Show)

Voice

National Memorial Day Concert (2001) 2000 - 2001 (TV Show)

Actor

The Real McCoys 1957 - 1965, 1976 - 1980, 1998 - 2001 (TV Show)

Actor

Legendary Lighthouses 1998 - 1999 (TV Show)

Narrator

National Memorial Day Concert (1999) 1998 - 1999 (TV Show)

Actor

Steve McQueen: The E! True Hollywood Story 1998 - 1999 (TV Show)

Actor

The Seedy Side of Plants 1998 - 1999 (TV Show)

Narrator

Wrongfully Accused 1998 (Movie)

Marshal Fergus Falls (Actor)

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea 1996 - 1997 (TV Show)

Actor

Cold Case 1996 - 1997 (TV Show)

Actor

Las Vegas 1996 - 1997 (TV Show)

Narrator

Atlantis: In Search of a Lost Continent 1995 - 1996 (TV Show)

Actor

A Silent Betrayal 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)

Actor

Driving Passion 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)

Narrator

Jade 1995 (Movie)

Governor Lew Edwards (Actor)

Sabrina 1995 (Movie)

Patrick Tyson (Actor)

The Bermuda Triangle: Secrets Revealed 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)

Actor

Chasing India's Monsoon 1993 - 1994 (TV Show)

Narrator

Jonathan Stone: Threat of Innocence 1993 - 1994 (TV Show)

Actor

A Place to Be Loved 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)

Actor

Hot Shots! Part Deux 1993 (Movie)

Colonel Denton Walters (Actor)

Intruders 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)

Actor

Pros & Cons 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)

Actor

And the Sea Will Tell 1990 - 1991 (TV Show)

Actor

Beautiful Killers 1990 - 1991 (TV Show)

Narrator

Citizen Carter 1990 - 1991 (TV Show)

Actor

Fifteenth Annual Circus of the Stars 1990 - 1991 (TV Show)

Actor

The Keepers of Eden 1990 - 1991 (TV Show)

Narrator

Montana 1989 - 1990 (TV Show)

Actor

Mort Sahl: The Loyal Opposition 1989 - 1990 (TV Show)

Narrator

The 47th Annual Golden Globe Awards 1989 - 1990 (TV Show)

Actor

Internal Affairs 1988 - 1989 (TV Show)

Actor

Leviathan 1989 (Movie)

Doc (Actor)

Plaza Suite 1987 - 1988 (TV Show)

Actor

Rambo III 1988 (Movie)

Trautman (Actor)

Wood Stork: Barometer of the Everglades 1987 - 1988 (TV Show)

Actor

Doubletake 1985 - 1986 (TV Show)

Actor

The 12th Annual People's Choice Awards 1985 - 1986 (TV Show)

Actor

50 Years of Action! 1985 (Movie)

Narration (Narrator)

London and Davis in New York 1984 - 1985 (TV Show)

Actor

Passions 1984 - 1985 (TV Show)

Actor

Rambo: First Blood Part II 1985 (Movie)

Trautman (Actor)

Summer Rental 1985 (Movie)

Al Pellet (Actor)

The Rape of Richard Beck 1984 - 1985 (TV Show)

Actor

The Flamingo Kid 1984 (Movie)

Phil Brody (Actor)

It Takes Two 1982 - 1983 (TV Show)

Actor

Table for Five 1983 (Movie)

Mitchell (Actor)

Daniel Boone 1981 - 1982 (TV Show)

Voice

First Blood 1982 (Movie)

Colonel Trautman (Actor)

Look at Us 1981 - 1982 (TV Show)

Actor

Body Heat 1981 (Movie)

Edmund Walker (Actor)

Musical Comedy Tonight 1980 - 1981 (TV Show)

Actor

Death Ship 1980 (Movie)

Captain Trevor Marshall (Actor)

Joshua's World 1979 - 1980 (TV Show)

Actor

Mayflower: The Pilgrim's Adventure 1979 - 1980 (TV Show)

Actor

Stone Cold Dead 1979 (Movie)

Sergeant Boyd (Actor)

Wild Horse Hank 1979 (Movie)

Bradford, Pace (Actor)

CBS: On the Air 1977 - 1978 (TV Show)

Actor

The Evil 1978 (Movie)

C J (Actor)

All's Fair 1976 - 1977 (Tv Show)

Actor

Breakheart Pass 1974 (Movie)

Richard Fairchild (Actor)

Double Indemnity 1973 - 1974 (TV Show)

Actor

Honky Tonk 1973 - 1974 (TV Show)

Actor

Nightmare 1973 - 1974 (TV Show)

Actor

Jonathan Livingston Seagull 1973 (Movie)

of Parent (Voice)

The Lily Tomlin Show 1972 - 1973 (TV Show)

Actor

The Man Called Noon 1972 (Movie)

Noon (Actor)

Thief 1971 - 1972 (TV Show)

Actor

Doctors' Wives 1971 (Movie)

Pete Brennan (Actor)

Red Sky at Morning 1971 (Movie)

Frank Arnold (Actor)

Un Flic 1971 (Movie)

Simon (Actor)

Catlow 1970 (Movie)

Cowan (Actor)

La Spina Dorsale del Diavola 1970 (Movie)

Major Brown (Actor)

A Run on Gold 1969 (Movie)

Mike Warden (Actor)

Marooned 1969 (Movie)

Jim Pruett (Actor)

Star! 1968 (Movie)

Richard Aldrich (Actor)

Wait Until Dark 1967 (Movie)

Mike Talman (Actor)

Slattery's People 1964 - 1966 (TV Show)

Actor

The Sand Pebbles 1966 (Movie)

Collins (Actor)

Made in Paris 1965 (Movie)

Herb Stone (Actor)

John Goldfarb, Please Come Home 1963 (Movie)

John Goldfarb (Actor)

Frontier 1955 - 1956 (TV Show)

Actor

Medic 1954 - 1956 (TV Show)

Actor

Our Miss Brooks 1956 (Movie)

Walter Denton (Actor)

Our Miss Brooks 1952 - 1956 (TV Show)

Actor

A Case of Deadly Force (TV Show)

Actor

A Fire in the Sky (TV Show)

Actor

A Girl Named Sooner (TV Show)

Actor

Centennial (TV Show)

Actor

Deep Family Secrets (TV Show)

Actor

First You Cry (TV Show)

Actor

Footsteps (TV Show)

Actor

Fugitive Family (TV Show)

Actor

Heart Full of Rain (TV Show)

Actor

Kids Like These (TV Show)

Actor

Last Flight Out (TV Show)

Actor

Murder Times Seven (TV Show)

Actor

Murder in Black & White (TV Show)

Actor

On Wings of Eagles (TV Show)

Actor

Out of the Ashes (TV Show)

Actor

Shootout in a One-Dog Town (TV Show)

Actor

Stuck With Each Other (TV Show)

Actor

Terror on Track 9 (TV Show)

Actor

The Day Reagan Was Shot (TV Show)

Actor

The Day the Bubble Burst (TV Show)

Actor

The Forget-Me-Not Murders (TV Show)

Actor

The High Price of Passion (TV Show)

Actor

The Ordeal of Bill Carney (TV Show)

Actor

The War Between the Tates (TV Show)

Actor

The Wild West (TV Show)

Voice

To Serve and Protect (TV Show)

Actor
Director (12)

Grandpa Goes to Washington 1964 - 1965, 1976 - 1980, 1998 - 2001 (Tv Show)

Director

Lou Grant 1957 - 1968, 1976 - 1982, 1998 - 2001 (Tv Show)

Director

Marie 1964 - 1965, 1976 - 1977, 1979 - 1980, 1998 - 2001 (Tv Show)

Director

No Time For Sergeants 1957 - 1965, 1976 - 1980, 1998 - 2001 (Tv Show)

Director

Rosetti and Ryan 1957 - 1965, 1976 - 1980, 1998 - 2001 (Tv Show)

Director

The Andy Griffith Show 1957 - 1968, 1976 - 1980, 1998 - 2001 (Tv Show)

Director

Turnabout 1964 - 1965, 1976 - 1980, 1998 - 2001 (Tv Show)

Director

Wendy and Me 1964 - 1965, 1976 - 1977, 1998 - 2001 (Tv Show)

Director

Allison Sidney Harrison 1982 - 1983 (TV Show)

Director

The Hoyt Axton Show 1981 - 1982 (TV Show)

Director

Better Late Than Never 1979 - 1980 (TV Show)

Director

The Cheerleaders 1975 - 1976 (TV Show)

Director

Biography

An often underappreciated actor capable of playing the heroic leading man, the devious villain, or comedic foil with equal ability, Richard Crenna enjoyed an amazingly robust 50-year career in film and on television. After receiving his start in radio while in his preteens, Crenna first gained widespread notoriety on the early television classic "Our Miss Brooks" (CBS, 1952-56), as the klutzy, nasally-voiced Walter Denton. He made small early appearances in several films, in addition to his work on the ongoing series, followed by a lengthy run on yet another successful sitcom "The Real McCoys" (ABC/CBS, 1957-1963). Crenna later redefined his career with two strong performances as deeply flawed characters in the feature films "The Sand Pebbles" (1966) and "Wait Until Dark" (1967), leaving his comedic television persona far behind. After more than a decade of less memorable movie work, combined with more fruitful endeavors on TV, he landed his most recognizable role, that of Colonel Trautman in the Sylvester Stallone action vehicle "First Blood" (1982). Crenna would reprise the role of Trautman two more times in the film's sequels, even going so far as to lampoon the role in the Jim Abrahams-directed parody "Hot Shots! Part Deux" (1993). The epitome of the working actor, Crenna remained a familiar and welcome presence on screens both big and small up until his passing in 2003 at the age of 76.

Born Richard Donald Crenna in Los Angeles on Nov. 30, 1926, he was the son of Edith, a hotel manager, and Dominick, a pharmacist. He began taking drama classes while attending Virgil Junior High School, and when an announcement was made that producers were looking for children to perform on a radio program, Crenna tried out. That first audition landed him his professional debut role on the radio serial "Boy Scout Jamboree," one of several programs he would work on over the next decade. Other radio work included stints on "Dear John" and "Burns and Allen," which he managed to squeeze into his schedule after classes at Belmont High School, and later at the University of Southern California, prior to serving in the U.S. Army during World War II. It was as the love-sick, adenoidal high school student Walter Denton on the Eve Arden radio comedy "Our Miss Brooks" that would gain Crenna his widest recognition as a voice actor. When the program made the switch to the small screen - "Our Miss Brooks" (CBS, 1952-56) - Crenna, despite being well into his 20s, made the transition as well.

The same year "Our Miss Brooks" made its TV premiere, Crenna made his feature film debut in several projects, including the fire-fighting adventure "Red Skies of Montana" (1952) and the baseball biopic "The Pride of St. Louis" (1952). Not surprisingly, he reprised the role of the eternally dorky Denton for the big screen adaptation of "Our Miss Brooks" (1956), which coincided with the beloved series' final season on TV. Crenna joined the cast of another successful show as the eldest son Luke on "The Real McCoys" (ABC/CBS, 1957-1963), a sitcom co-starring Walter Brennan as the patriarch of a hillbilly clan transplanted to the San Fernando Valley from the mountains of West Virginia. With the show well into its fourth season, a restless Crenna began directing episodes of the series, a second career he would frequently indulge in over the next several decades. Following the cancellation of "Real McCoys," Crenna landed a leading role alongside Shirley MacLaine and Peter Ustinov in the Cold War comedy "John Goldfarb, Please Come Home!" (1965). Unfortunately, the film did not perform well upon release. Nor did his next television project, the political drama "Slattery's People" (CBS, 1964-65), which lasted a mere one season.

Crenna rebounded nicely, however, when he returned to film as an ineffectual gunboat captain in the critically-acclaimed wartime epic "The Sand Pebbles" (1966), opposite Steve McQueen and Candice Bergin. The following year he returned with a solid performance as a calculating con man in the classic thriller "Wait Until Dark" (1967), alongside Audrey Hepburn as the blind woman he and his criminal partners prey upon. Not so fondly remembered would be the hugely disappointing Julie Andrews vehicle, "Star!" (1968), helmed by Robert Wise, who had directed Crenna in "The Sand Pebbles" just two years prior. He impressed greatly as the self-sacrificing commander of a doomed spacecraft in the John Sturges-directed adventure "Marooned" (1969), opposite Gene Hackman and Gregory Peck. Working outside the Hollywood system, Crenna played a nightclub owner and master criminal in revered French New Wave director Jean-Pierre Melville's final film, "Un Flic" (1972), co-starring Alain Delon and Catherine Deneuve. As the 1970s progressed, Crenna soon found himself headlining in lesser feature films such as the revenge Western "The Man Called Noon" (1973), or in made-for-TV fare like the tepid remake of "Double Indemnity" (ABC, 1973).

Crenna picked up a supporting role as a corrupt governor in the Charles Bronson railway mystery, "Breakheart Pass" (1975), prior to making another run at a weekly show with the sitcom "All's Fair" (CBS, 1976-77), another politically-themed series just as short-lived as his earlier "Slattery's People." The following year, he took part in the laughable supernatural thriller "Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell" (CBS, 1978), but quickly redeemed himself with the epic historical miniseries based on James A. Michener's bestseller "Centennial" (NBC, 1978-79), as the hate-filled Colonel Frank Skimmerhorn. Less notable was the gory high seas ghost story "Death Ship" (1980), in which Crenna and a group of shipwreck survivors find themselves aboard a haunted, derelict Nazi torture vessel. However, the dawn of the next decade presented Crenna with two of his strongest roles to date. First, he played femme fatale Kathleen Turner's overbearing alpha male husband in writer-director Lawrence Kasdan's steamy noir homage "Body Heat" (1981), starring William Hurt as an ethically-challenged Florida attorney. Next came what would arguably be the most recognizable role of Crenna's career - that of Colonel Trautman, the sympathetic former mentor to John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone), an angry, highly-trained Vietnam veteran antagonized by a local sheriff (Brian Dennehy) in "First Blood" (1982).

It seemed, however, that another run on a long-running television series was just not in the cards for Crenna, when yet another sitcom "It Takes Two" (ABC, 1982-83), co-starring Patty Duke, Helen Hunt and Anthony Edwards failed to connect with audiences. Sporting a stronger hand was Garry Marshall's ode to the 1950s, "The Flamingo Kid" (1984), which cast Crenna as the reigning gin rummy champ at a posh country club who takes Brooklyn boy Matt Dillon under his wing. He then reprised the role of Col. Trautman in the even bloodier, higher-grossing hit sequel "Rambo: First Blood Part II" (1985); this time springing Rambo from prison only to send him back to Vietnam on a covert mission to locate POWs. That same year, Crenna won an Emmy for his fine performance in the well-intentioned "The Rape of Richard Beck" (ABC, 1985) as a macho, sexist cop who must reevaluate his ideas about rape victims after becoming one himself. Tough cops became a staple for Crenna, epitomized by Lt. Frank Janek, the protagonist he played in a series of TV movies for more a decade, beginning with "Doubletake" (CBS, 1985).

Continuing to work steadily on the small screen, Crenna played a crusading attorney going head-to-head with the Boston Police Department in the drama "A Case of Deadly Force" (CBS, 1986), and embodied future presidential candidate H. Ross Perot in the fact-based action adventure "On Wings of Eagles" (NBC, 1986). Proving the old axiom that old soldiers never die, he signed on as Trautman for a third time and followed Stallone's one-man army to Afghanistan for the second sequel "Rambo III" (1988), then returned to the big screen the following year for the deep-sea monster movie "Leviathan" (1989). His best roles, however, were still on television in projects that included a convincing turn as the detective who doggedly tracked down two of L.A.'s most infamous serial killers in the based-on-fact "The Case of the Hillside Stranglers" (NBC, 1989). Crenna teamed with James Earl Jones for another short-lived series, the crime drama "Pros & Cons" (ABC, 1991-92), prior to showing off his comedic aptitude by spoofing his iconic Trautman role in the slapstick parody sequel "Hot Shots! Part Deux" (1993).

Although "Hot Shots!" may not have been his most prestigious picture, Crenna surely must have wished he had avoided the critical and box office debacle that was director William Friedkin's "Jade" (1995), in which he played a Governor involved in blackmail and prostitution. Shortly thereafter, he appeared on network television as Professor Aronnax in the ill-equipped remake of "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" (CBS, 1997), opposite Ben Cross as Captain Nemo. On cable, Crenna played "The Gipper" in the historical drama "The Day Reagan Was Shot" (Showtime, 2001), alongside Richard Dreyfuss as the former Secretary of State, Alexander Haig. Beginning in 2000, the veteran actor took on the recurring character of Jared Duff on the popular drama "Judging Amy" (CBS, 1999-2005) for two seasons prior to his 2003 death at age 76 due to complications from pancreatic cancer. Crenna appeared posthumously with his final performance as an INS investigator looking into the past of an Auschwitz survivor (Christine Lahti) in the fact-based drama "Out of the Ashes" (Showtime, 2003).

Relationships

Maria Crenna

Daughter
born on September 2, 1965

Seana Crenna

Daughter
born in 1952

Richard Crenna

Son
born on June 29, 1959 formerly engaged to actress Salma Hayek

Penny Smith

Wife
married in 1950

EDUCATION

University of Southern California

Los Angeles , California

Belmont High School

Belmont , California

Milestones

2001

Cast as Ronald Reagan in the Showtime drama "The Day Reagan Was Shot"

2001

Played a gruff cowboy grandfather in Showtime's "By Dawn's Early Light"

2000

Had recurring role as Tyne Daly's love interest on the CBS drama "Judging Amy"

1998

Played the pursuing federal marshall in "Wrongfully Accused," a "Fugitive" parody starring Leslie Neilsen

1997

Starred in the CBS TV drama "Deep Family Secrets"

1997

Played Professor Aronnax in CBS's TV adaptation of "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea"

1997

Starred in the CBS telepic "Heart Full of Rain"

1997

Underwent thyroid surgery

1996

Starred in CBS's telepic "Race Against Time: The Search for Sarah" opposite Patty Duke"

1995

Appeared in the thriller "Jade"

1995

Appeared in director Sydney Pollack's remake of "Sabrina"

1993

Parodied his "Rambo" role Col. Trautman in "Hot Shots! Part Deux" opposite Charlie Sheen

1989

Appeared in the horror thriller "Leviathan"

1989

Starred as Det. Bob Grogan in NBC's detective drama "The Case of the Hillside Strangler"

1988

Began lucrative side career as a host and narrator for television specials, including "Mort Sahl: The Loyal Opposition" (1989), "Circus of the Stars" (1990), "The Bermuda Triangle" (1994), A&E's "Las Vegas" (1996), "Cold Case" (1997), "The I Love Lucy 50

1988

Last outing as Trautman for "Rambo III"

1987

Appeared in ABC's TV adaptation of Neil Simon's "Plaza Suite" opposite Carol Burnett

1986

Narrated the feature documentary, "50 Years of Action!", Made to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Directors Guild of America

1986

Played H. Ross Perot in NBC's mini-series adaptation of Ken Follet's best-seller "On Wings of Eagles," documenting Perot's funding of a mission to rescue two of his employees trapped in Iran in 1979

1985

Appeared with John Candy in the comedy "Summer Rental"

1985

Reprised Trautman for "Rambo: First Blood Part II"

1985

Portrayed a sexually assaulted police officer in the ABC telepic "The Rape of Richard Beck"; later earned an Emmy as best actor in a TV movie

1984

Had an acclaimed turn as the slick gin rummy country club champ Phil Brody opposite Matt Dillon in "The Flamingo Kid"

1983

Co-starred with Jon Voight in the drama "Table for Five"

1982

Co-starred opposite Sylvester Stallone's Rambo character as Col. Trautman in "First Blood"

1981

Appeared as Kathleen Turner's doomed husband in writer-director LAwrence Kasdan's "Body Heat"

1981

Provided the voice of the title character for the animated children's adventure special, "Daniel Boone"

1979

Appeared in the thriller "Death Ship"

1979

Starred in the action film "Stone Cold Dead"

1979

Appeared in the she-Western "Wild Horse Hank"

1979

TV movie directing debut, "Better Late Than Never"

1978

Headlined NBC's meteor disaster thriller "A Fire in the Sky"

1977

Starred the the supernatural horror film "The Evil"

1975

Appeared with Charles Bronson and Jill Ireland in the Western "Breakheart Pass"

1973

Starred in the Western "A Man Called Noon"

1973

Provided a voice for the film adapatation of Richard Bach's popular novel "Jonathan Livingston Seagull"

1973

Played the Fred MacMurray role in ABC telepic remake of "Double Indemnity"

1970

Appeared with Yul Brenner and Leonard Nimoy in the Louis L'Amour Western "Catlow"

1969

Starred in the medical drama "Doctors' Wives" opposite Dyan Cannon, Gene Hackman and Carroll O'Connor

1968

Starred in the crime caper comedy "A Run on Gold"

1968

Starred as part of the team of stranded astronauts in the space adventure "Marooned"

1968

Starred opposite Julie Andrews in the musical biopic "Star!"

1967

Appeared as a burglar terrorizing blind Audrey Hepburn in the thriller "Wait Until Dark"

1967

Co-starred in the romantic comedy "Made in Paris"

1966

Founded Pendick Enterprises

1966

Appeared opposite Steve McQueen in "The Sand Pebbles"

1964

Played the title role in his first feature film in eight years, "John Goldfarb, Please Come Home", co-starring Shirley Maclaine

1952

Screen acting debut, "Pride of St. Louis"

1952

TV series acting debut, as problem student Walter Denton on "Our Miss Brooks" (he later played in the 1956 film based on the series)

Co-starred opposite James Earl Jones on the short-lived detective comedy spinoff from "Gabriel's Fire", "Pros and Cons"

Directed such TV pilots as "The Cheerleaders" (1976), "Marie" (1979), "The Hoyt Axton Show" (1981), and "Allison Sidney Harrison" (1983), and episodes of such series as "Grandpa Goes to Washington", "Rosetti and Ryan", "The Rockford Files," "Turnabout" an

Directed episodes of "The Andy Griffith Show," "No Time for Sergeants" and "Wendy and Me"

Hosted the syndicated news magazine show, "Look at Us"

Began directing TV with the fifth and sixth seasons of "The Real McCoys"

Starred opposite Patty Duke as Dr. Sam Quinn on the ABC sitcom, "It Takes Two"

Played idealistic state representative James Slattery on the CBS drama series, "Slattery's People"

Directed episodes of the TV sitcoms, "Wendy and Me" (1964-65), "No Time for Sergeants" (1964-65) and "The Andy Griffith Show", as well as the comedy pilot, "Cap'n Ahab" (1965) in the mid-1960s

Began career as a guest actor and sometime regular on such radio series as "Boy Scout Jamboree" (at age 10), "A Date With Judy", "Burns and Allen", "The Hardy Family", "The Great Gildersleeve", "Our Miss Brooks"

Starred as Luke McCoy on the popular sitcom, "The Real McCoys"

Co-starred as Richard Barrington opposite Bernadette Peters on the CBS sitcom, "All's Fair"

Played tough police detective Lt. Frank Janek in a series of TV-movies and miniseries: "Doubletake" (1985), "Internal Affairs" (1988), "Murder in Black and White" (1990), "Murder Times Seven" (1990), "Terror on Track 9" (1992), "The Forget-Me-Not Murders"

Debuted as a producer on the sitcom, "Make Room for Granddaddy", starring Danny Thomas in a reprise of the role he played on "Make Room for Daddy" (1953-57) and "The Danny Thomas Show" (1957-64)

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