A housekeeper found Chris Penn dead in his home yesterday. He wasn't much older than me. I was saddened by the news and reflected back on his career. Although Footloose is the movie I will always associate Chris with, I can remember him in All the Right Moves, Muholland Falls, Resevoir Dogs and of course as the sheriff in Too Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar. I was surprised to find a small mention in one of today's news stories that stated he was the executive producer of Juarez: Stages of Fear, a movie that calls attention to the ongoing and seemingly serial murders of women in the border city. When I looked at his imdb listing I was astonished at the number of films he's worked on and how there were few stinkers in the mix. When you are as busy as he was, you normally work on at least a handful of awful movies.
He was a prolific actor who came from a family of talents. There's been no news of the cause of his death, but I'm hoping his won't be the usual Hollywood tragica of drugs and excess. He will remain in my head as Willard, the lunky cowboy learning how to dance in a small town where the expression of movement was forbidden. He will always be the loyal sidekick, sweet and innocent and coming into his own.