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Alabama remembers actor from films like Forrest Gump and My Cousin Vinny

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An Alabama actor who played small roles in movies including "Forrest Gump" and "Sweet Home Alabama" has died at age 87. Bob Penny spent three decades as a college English professor, mostly at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He acted in some commercials on the side, which led to small parts in movies and TV shows after Penny retired from teaching in 1990. He played a bumbling, small-town lawyer in "Sweet Home Alabama," and had roles in "My Cousin Vinny" and "Mississippi Burning." An obituary from Laughlin Service Funeral Home in Huntsville says Penny died on Christmas Day.

Born in Anniston in 1935, Penny was a poet who spent three decades as an English professor, mostly teaching poetry and prose at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. During the 1980s, Penny found work on the side acting in TV commercials for a local department store as well as for a United Way campaign in Atlanta. Penny got deeper into acting after retiring from the university in 1990. Penny appeared in more than 30 movies and TV series. He was credited as a "crony" in the 1994 film "Forrest Gump," and played a bumbling, small-town lawyer in "Sweet Home Alabama," released in 2002. Penny's other film credits included the movies "Mississippi Burning," "My Cousin Vinny" and "The Legend of Bagger Vance," as well as the TV series "In the Heat of the Night." When he wasn't acting on film, Penny took parts in theater productions in Birmingham, where he performed onstage in plays including "The Odd Couple" and "Don Juan in Hell."

Pat Duggins is news director for Alabama Public Radio.
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