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80s star Chris Penn found dead



Chris Penn, brother of Sean Penn and an actor with a distinguished career of his own, was found dead Tuesday at his Santa Monica condo. He was 40. There was no word yet on a possible cause of death, though early reports rule out foul play. Penn's body was found in bed by his housekeeper.

Penn, who started acting at age 12, had parts in a slew of 80s hits. But he's probably best known to fans of the era as the loveable hick Willard in Footloose, starring Kevin Bacon. In fact, one of the movie's best scenes, in which Bacon's character Ren shows Willard how to dance, is quite ironic: Penn didn't know how to dance at the time.

In All the Right Moves, Penn played a high school football star whose future grows foggy when his girlfriend gets pregnant. The movie starred Tom Cruise. Other 80s roles were in Pale Rider, At Close Range (with brother Sean), Rumble Fish, The Wild Life and Best of the Best. His career continued through the years with notable appearances in Reservoir Dogs, The Funeral, Mulholland Falls, Rush Hour and Starsky & Hutch.

Sean Penn's other brother is musician Michael Penn, who composed the music for the film Boogie Nights.

Chris Penn's latest film, the comedy The Darwin Awards starring Joseph Fiennes and Winona Ryder, was scheduled to debut today at the Sundance Film Festival.

Tom Cruise and Chris Penn, center, in 1983's All The Right Moves.

[Last modified: Wednesday, June 9, 2010 2:16pm]


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