He Played Jake Styles on "Jake and the Fatman." See Joe Penny Now at 66.

The actor went on to star in a hit TV movie series.

It didn't become one of those classic series with reruns airing all the time, but if you were a fan of Jake and the Fatman during its five-season run, then you certainly remember Joe Penny. Penny played Jake Styles on the series, the investigator partner of district attorney J. L. "Fatman" McCabe, who was played by William Conrad. Penny is also known for another '80s crime show, Riptide, on which he played Nick Ryder.

In the years since Jake and the Fatman ended in 1992, the actor has appeared in many other popular TV shows and in a TV movie series for the Hallmark Channel. Read on to find out more about Penny's life and career today.

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He was inspired to become an actor in high school.

Joe Penny at a CBS TV affiliates party in 1987
Ron Galella, Ltd. / Getty Images

In an interview with Stauros Entertainment in 2010, Penny shared that he was first inspired to become an actor during a literature class in high school.

"I saw a movie called Inherit the Wind, and I had to do a book report on it. I also saw a movie called Bad Day at Black Rock—both with Spencer Tracy in it. And we were supposed to critique the film and do a little essay on it, and why it was good—the good, the bad, the conflict, and all that stuff. And I was taken by the acting. And then I got into more films, looking at actors and things like that."

Penny said that this interest stuck with him, and later, when he was picking up a friend from an acting class, he decided to take the plunge himself. "I found a place to express myself, and went on with my career and got lucky and got hired," he explained. "You know, had a couple of shows here and there. And I'm still working, so I'm one of the lucky guys."

He's been in many other popular TV shows.

Joe Penny photographed circa 1992
Kypros/Getty Images

In addition to starring on Jake and the Fatman and Riptide, Penny has made guest appearances and had recurring roles on many other TV series. These include Matlock, Touched by an Angel, The Sopranos, 7th Heaven, Days of Our Lives, and CSI: Miami.

Most recently, he was in three episodes of Cold Case in 2009 and 2010 and in the TV movie Betrayed at 17 in 2011. His most recent listed credit is in the 2016 movie The Last Night Inn.

He starred in a Hallmark TV movie series.

Joe Penny at a screening of "The Dukes" in 2007
Alberto E. Rodriguez/ Getty Images

Penny was Lea Thompson's co-star in the Jane Doe series of movies, which aired on the Hallmark Channel. Thompson starred as secret agent Cathy Davis, aka Jane Doe, while Penny played Frank Darnell, the director of the agency she works for. The pair appeared in nine movies together between 2005 and 2008.

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He has fond memories of his co-star.

Joe Penny at the premiere of "The Divide" in 2018
Vladimir Yazev / Shutterstock

During an appearance at the pop culture convention The Hollywood Show in 2012, Penny was interviewed by HollywoodChicago.com and asked to share something about Jake and the Fatman co-star Conrad that people don't know. Conrad passed away in 1994 at the age of 73.

"Everybody had the impression he was a gruff guy, but in reality he was like your lovable granddad," Penny said. "He was was like my granddad, that's the relationship we had."

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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