The heavy-set, stage-trained Pankin began appearing in NYC productions of Shakespeare after receiving his undergraduate degree in 1968. He subsequently appeared in productions at the New York Shakespeare Festival and was a company member at the Vivian Beaumont in 1972. After relocating to the West Coast, Pankin began a career in TV as a supporting player on a number of short-lived series, including "The San Pedro Beach Bums" (ABC, 1977) and "No Soap, Radio" (ABC, 1982), before landing a starring berth on the HBO satirical comedy "Not Necessarily the News" (1983-88). As reporter Bob Charles, Pankin was hilarious in various skits, particularly specializing in slow burns. He also voiced Earl Sinclair, the father, on the ABC sitcom "Dinosaurs" (1991-94).