‘Golden Girls’ Actor Chick Vennera Appeared in Two Films with a ‘Law & Order: SVU’ Star

by Leanne Stahulak
(Photo by Todd Williamson/Getty Images for TV Land)

“Golden Girls” star Chick Vennera has a number of impressive credits under his belt, from the beloved sitcom to cartoon “Animaniacs” to 1978 film “Thank God It’s Friday.” But did you know that he also starred in two films with one of the star detectives of “Law & Order: SVU”?

That’s right. Former rapper Ice-T started acting back in the early 1980s, a good twenty years before starring on the hit crime show. Two of those credits were for the 1999 film “Final Voyage” and 2001 film “Air Rage.” Both turn-of-the-century flicks also starred “Golden Girls” actor Chick Vennera.

Ice-T boasted main roles in both films, with Vennera taking on supporting characters. Even with those two stars, though, both movies flopped spectacularly. “Air Rage” earned only a 16% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, with not a single critic rating. “Final Voyage” didn’t even have enough critic or audience ratings to give it a score.

Remembering the ‘Golden Girls’ Star

Unfortunately, Vennera passed away in his Burbank, California, home this past Wednesday, July 7. The actor was 74 years old and battling lung cancer, according to his daughter Nicky Vennera. The actor retired from his career in entertainment in the mid-2000s. His last acting credit was the voice of a character in the video game “Bayonetta.”

Vennera is most famous for a scene in the movie “Thank God It’s Friday,” where he’s dancing across the tops of cars in a parking lot. He also played recurring character Enrique Mas on two episodes of season five of “Golden Girls” and Cuban boxer Pepe on an episode of season four.

In the late 80s and early 90s, Vennera racked up even more acting credits when he turned his talents to a new medium: voice acting. The “Golden Girls” star spent five years voicing the roles of Pesto, Sparrow, and Joe P on Animaniacs. He also voiced characters in “The Real Adventures of Johnny Quest” and two animated “Batman” shows.

According to Vennera’s IMDb bio, he loved being an entertainer at an early age. From the time he was three years old, the actor was taking dance lessons. By seven, he’d started piano, with clarinet and saxophone following not long after. Even as a high schooler, Vennera was already playing in nightclubs around his childhood home in Herkimer, New York.

After graduating, Vennera headed west to California, enrolling in the Pasadena Playhouse to pursue acting. He later performed during his time with the U.S. Army, and afterward joined Disney on Parade as they toured North America. For two years, he traveled with them before heading back to New York to join the Broadway production of “Grease.” The rest of Vennera’s acting career took off from there.