Richard Crenna was one of the most versatile and entertaining actors in Hollywood for nearly seven decades, starting in the Pre TV days of radio in the 1940s and appearing in over 70 films from the 1950s-2000s. From his early TV success in comedies such as "Real McCoys" & "Our Miss Brooks" to his critically acclaimed turns in dramatic movie roles such as "Sand Pebbles", "Wait Until Dark", & "Marooned", Crenna was equally adept at playing comedy (even starring opposite John Candy in "Summer Vacation") or drama and was just as likely to play the hero as he was the heavy.
Also a well respected director behind the scenes, Crenna had over 70 individual directing credits to his name, including work behind the scenes on two of TV's most popular shows, "The Andy Griffith Show" & "The Rockford Files".
After establishing his directorial credits and making a name for himself as a dramatic film actor, Crenna played largely on TV in the 1970s, including memorable performances as a hard drinking, womanizing football coach struggling with the morality of playing a clearly injured player to win a game in "Footsteps", a single dad fighting to regain custody of his son while trying (unsuccessfully) to leave his crime ridden life as a con man and jewel thief behind him in "Thief", as a supportive step dad who risks arrest to help his step daughter in her quest to save a pack of wild animals in "Wild Horse Hank", and as the evil Col Skimmerhorn who has no problem slaughtering Indian babies in the acclaimed Mini Series "Centennial".
In the 80s, still in demand for both supporting and leading roles, Crenna enjoyed maybe his most active decade yet, earning strong reviews for performances along side John Vioght in in the family drama "Table For Five", earning a Best Supporting Actor nomination at the Golden Globes for his work "Flamingo Kid", and appearing alongside Sly Stallone as mentor and best friend Col Trautman of John Rambo in the first three Rambo pictures, as well as starring roles in the horror flick "Leviathan" and the previously mentioned "Summer Vacation". He was busy in TV also, with starring roles in docudramas "The Case Of The Hillside Stranglers" (about the serial killer case in LA & Seattle in the late 70s) & "High Price Of Passion" (playing the university professor convicted of killing the prostitute he was having an affair with), as well the Mini Series Passions (playing a wealthy business man who leads a double life). Crenna originated one of his most popular roles, as NYPD Det Frank Janek, in the popular 1985 mini series "Double Take", which proved so popular that he reprised role in seven films for CBS between 1985-1994, based on the books by William Bayer. Crenna also earned an Emmy Award for Best Leading Actor for his highly acclaimed work in the TV film "The Rape Of Richard Beck", playing a tough guy cop who is raped on the job, a challenging role that showcased the emotional toll and somewhat cruel and invasive investigative techniques associated with sexual assault.
Despite taking time off in 1997 while battling throat cancer, Crenna still appeared occasionally in feature films such as the romantic comedy "Sabrina" and the Leslie Nielsen vehicle "Wrongfully Accussed", while continuing to maintain a strong presence on TV with starring roles in several made for TV films, including "Heart Full of Rain" with Rick Schroeder and "Last Flight Out" (about the last commercial flight out of Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War in 1975). He continued working literally up until his death, from cancer, in 2003, with a co starring role in the World War II picture "Out Of The Ashes" and a recurring role on the CBS TV show "Judging Amy", as well as other roles in two LifeTime Movies and an NBC mini series ("To Serve And Protect").
In addition to the titles listed above, Crenna was excellent in "Breakheart Pass" (western murder mystery starring with Charles Bronson), "Catlow" (western comedy starring with Yule Brenner), and the short lived but highly regarded mid 60s TV drama "Slatery's People" (the role that first established him as a legit dramatic actor after mostly playing in comedies the previous ten years and lead directly to his casting in the successful feature films "Wait Until Dark" & "The Sand Pebbles").moreless