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Actor Richard Crenna

Richard Donald Crenna (not to be confused with Richard Anthony Crenna, his son) was the star of Our Miss Brooks and TV's The Real McCoys, and before it was all said and done, an actor whose career spanned half a century.

Richard was born in the right town to get a quick start in the business--the City of Angels, Los Angeles.  It is unclear whether or not the future thespian was actually a boy scout, but during his youth, an LA radio station broadcast a show called Boy Scout Jamboree, and Richard landed a part. 

He didn't launch right into a career as a teen star, though.  Most of his adolescence was that of a normal kid, and then he fought in World War II

After returning stateside, though, it didn't take Crenna long to pick up where he'd left off.  Not only did he get a chance to return to Boy Scout Jamboree, but he soon began playing occasional roles in the very best old time radio shows--mostly comedies--on the air.  These included The Great Gildersleeve, The Bur…

Richard Crenna Biography

Richard Donald Crenna has his place in show business history as the star of Our Miss Brooks and TV's The Real McCoys, and ultimately, an actor whose career spanned half a century.

Crenna was born in Nov. 1926 in Los Angeles, the son of a pharmacist and a hotel manager.  He lived in a show biz town and he got into the act early, playing a recurring role in a radio show called Boy Scout Jamboree.

He didn't launch right into a career as a teen star, though.  Instead, he finished high school and fought in World War II.

After the war, not only did he get a chance to return to Boy Scout Jamboree, but he soon began playing recurring roles in the very best radio shows--mostly comedies--on the air.  These included The Great Gildersleeve, The Burns and Gracie Allen Show, and
My Favorite Husband

In 1948, he began playing Walter Denton on the hit show Our Miss BrooksEve Arden played the title role, that of a headstrong high school teacher, and Gale Gordon and Jeff Chandler also sta…

Richard Crenna Movies

Richard Crenna was a star of radio, TV, and film.  Here, we'll take a look, in chronological order, at some of his biggest movies, with some others listed at the end

The Sand Pebbles
This 1966 picture starred the Hollywood titan Steve McQueen, along with Richard Attenborough and budding actress Candice Bergen.  It was set in war-torn, 1920's China; Crenna played a good-sized supporting role as Captain Collins.

Wait Until Dark
This 1967 movie saw Crenna working alongside no less a talent than Audrey Hepburn, with second billing going to Alan Arkin.  Directed by Terence Young, this heady crime film involved a search for heroin stuffed in a doll in the home of a blind woman.  Crenna played Mike Talman.

Red Sky At Morning
This movie was based on the Richard Bradford novel and chronicles the lives of several New Mexico friends during World War II.  It starred Richard Thomas, Catherine Burns, and Desi Arnaz, Jr.  The latter won a Golden Globe (1972) for Most Promising Newcomer.

Double …

Richard Crenna on the Radio

Many stars of old time radio have split careers, known by a generation for a particular film performance or TV series role, yet also established and accomplished in the world of radio.

While Richard Crenna is known for his work on the TV series Slattery's People and in the Rambo trilogy, entire generations were entertained by his radio work.

He started out young, on a Los Angeles series called Boy Scout Jamboree.  After a brief stint in the war it was back stateside and more radio work.  It didn't take long before he began nabbing recurring roles in the best radio series.

Crenna began his recurring role as Walter "Bronco" Thompson on The Great Gildersleeve in January of 1945.  After appearing on The Great Gildersleeve, just a month later, he tucked into a small recurring role on A Date with Judy, a comedy starring Louise Erickson. He also appeared a couple of times on This is Your FBI and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar.

Besides small parts in Great Gildersleeve, it wasn…

Richard Crenna in Rambo

Richard Crenna was not a colonel, but he did play one in movies.  He was Colonel Trautman in the three Rambo movies of the 80's, with Sylvester Stallone as the star.

In 1998's Rambo III, Crenna's character, Trautman, is kidnapped and tortured, making it Crenna's biggest involvement in the Rambo franchise. 

Interestingly, Crenna would later spoof the Trautman role as Colonel Denton Walters in Hot Shots! Part Deux.

Richard Crenna TV Shows

Crenna's big radio role was on Our Miss Brooks, which made the quantum leap from the airwaves to the picture tube.  Crenna, however, didn't go with it, his character having been written out.  It was a door that closed, but another opened: The Real McCoys.

The Real McCoys chronicled the dirt-diggin' adventures of a family from Smokey Corners, West Virginia, that then relocates out in sunny California.  Walter Brennan played the affable patriarch, Amos, while Crenna got the job as Luke, one of the grand-son.  Luke had a sister played by Lydia Reed and a brother--also named Luke, yeee-hawww!--played by Michael Winkelman.

Good old-fashioned conservative values were portrayed, presumably at the will of Walter Brennan.  In one episode, Grandpa's witching rod finds water while those crazy new-fangled scientists weren't able to.

Eventually, though he was able to make his voice sound youthful and though he tended to play people considerably younger than him, Richard Crenna…

Richard Crenna's Death

Richard Crenna died after a long, varied, fruitful life, on January 22, 2003.  While he wasn't at the forefront of American popular culture at the time, his death did beget some attention and notice from the media.  For one example, The New York Times ran a lengthy obituary, detailing his career with a focus on the Rambo franchise, and quoting from his daughter Seana.

At the time of his death, though his work had been less steady in recent years, he was in the midst of a project, the television series Judging Amy.   It starred Amy Brenneman and was fueled largely by her creativity.  The plot lines dealt with her life experiences, chronicling a judge whose mother is a social worker.  Crenna played Jared Duff, a businessman and love interest of Maxine McCarty Gray, the mother character.  They were set to be married when Crenna died.  The character also died--just before the wedding.

Crenna's death came at the end of a fight with pancreatic cancer.  His wife, Penni, and his three…