LOS ANGELES--Richard Crenna, the Emmy award-winning character actor whose wide-ranging roles included a lovesick teenager on TV's "Our Miss Brooks" and Rambo's mentor, died here of pancreatic cancer Jan. 17. He was 76. MSTies will recall his low-key turn as astronaut Jim Pruett in 1969's "Marooned" which, as the retititled SPACE TRAVELLERS, was featured in episode 401.
Born in Los Angeles, Crenna's career began in radio at the age of 10, first on "Burns and Allen" and then as squeaky-voiced Walter Denton on "Our Miss Brooks." He moved with the show when it migrated to television.
He also appeared in films, playing pitcher Daffy Dean in 1953's "Pride of St. Louis." From 1957 through 1963, he played opposite Walter Brennan on the television series "The Real McCoys." It was with that series that he first tried his hand at directing; he later directed episodes of other series, including "The Andy Griffith Show" and "Lou Grant."
Crenna continued with film work, too, most notably for his roles with Steve McQueen in 1966's "The Sand Pebbles" and in the 1967 thriller "Wait Until Dark." He gained some critical success in 1981's "Body Heat" and won a Golden Globe for his role in 1984's "The Flamingo Kid."
Action movie fans will recall his recurring role as Col. Samuel Trautman, the mentor to Sylvester Stallone's "Rambo" character, in all three of those films; he later spoofed that role in the 1993 comedy "Hot Shots! Part Deux."
He earned an Emmy for his 1985 performance as the title character in "The Rape of Richard Beck." Most recently, he appeared as the love interest opposite Tyne Daly on CBS' "Judging Amy." An episode featuring a wedding between the two characters was recently postponed because of Crenna's illness.
Crenna is survived by his wife and three adult children.