Bob Penny, Bumbling Lawyer in ‘Sweet Home Alabama,’ Dies at 87

Dr. Robert “Bob” Lynn Penny, who appeared in films such as “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Forrest Gump,” died on Dec. 25 of unknown causes. He was 87.

The college professor and stage and screen actor passed away in Huntsville, Alabama according to an obituary posted by Laughlin Funeral Home and Crematory.

Throughout his 25-year acting career, Penny scored small but memorable roles in a number of high-profile films. Early on, he played Curtis Foy in 1988’s “Mississippi Burning,” headlined by Gene Hackman and Willem Dafoe. He appeared in back-to-back hits as a bailiff in “Fried Green Tomatoes” and as Juror #2 in “My Cousin Vinny,” followed by “Forrest Gump” a few years later. He’s best known for playing bumbling lawyer Wallace Buford in the 2002 romantic comedy “Sweet Home Alabama.”

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Penny’s final role was Harold in “Still The King,” a 2016 comedy series starring Billy Ray Cyrus.

Offscreen, Penny had a long and illustrious career in academia. Born June 29, 1935 in Anniston, Alabama, the poet and professor received his undergraduated degree from Wofford College in South Carolina and New York’s Columbia University. He went on to earn a Masters in English from M.A. the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and his Ph.D. from the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa.

During his 21-year career teaching Poetry and Prose at the University of Alabama, Penny was nominated for the Ellen Gregg Ingalls Award for Excellence on Classroom Teaching six times, winning in 1974. In addition to his award-winning poetry and TV and film acting, Penny held more than 40 character and leading roles in dramatic productions.

Penny is survived by his brother, William Earl Penny (Betty), sister Jean Marion Yount, six nieces and one nephew, among others.

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