‘Golden Girls’ Actor Chick Vennera Dies: Here’s Who He Played on ‘JAG’

by Emily Morgan

Chick Vennera, an actor, known for his roles in “Golden Girls” and other films and TV shows, has died at 74. According to his daughter, the veteran actor died from lung cancer on Wednesday in his Burbank, Calif. home. 

During his career, Vennera appeared in three episodes of “Golden Girls” in 1989. In a season four episode, he played the role of Pepe before appearing as Enrique Mas in two of season five episodes. 

Later, he also made cameos in the well-known drama “JAG.” He played Benny Turpin in two episodes in 1998. He also had several roles as a voice actor. His voice appearances included “The Jetsons,” “Capitol Critters,” “Pinky and the Brain,” “The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest,” in addition to “Anamaniacs.”

Chick Vennera Remembered For Iconic Dancing Scene

His first notable on-screen role came in the Donna Summer movie “Thank God it’s Friday” from 1978. In the film, fans remember him most when he disco danced atop a line of parked cars.

According to Deadline, Vennera was born Francis Vennera in Herkimer, New York. He moved to California right after high school to pursue a career in entertainment. 

Once there, he studied at the prestigious Pasadena Playhouse before serving in the army. After serving in the US Army Signal Corps, he continued his pursuit of becoming an actor and dancer. He was also a musician and knew how to play several instruments. 

His first acting role came during a Broadway production of Grease. He went on tour with the production for a year, playing the role of Doddy. Before his stint on Broadway, he performed in various nightclubs when he on the West Coast and sang and danced in the Disney on Parade tour.

According to his IMDb profile, his acting credits go back all the way to 1975 with appearances on “Lucas Tanner,” “Baretta,” and “The Blue Knight” just a few years before starring in “Thank God It’s Friday” as the dancing disco fan, Marv Gomez.

“Dancing!” he exclaimed after falling through the roof of a car during the movie’s most memorable dance scene. “Everything else is bullsh–!”

Vennera’s additional television credits included appearances in well-known shows like “Night Court,” “Mad About You,” “The Jetsons,” and numerous animated “Batman” projects. The actor also appeared in several famous films, including Robert Redford’s Milagro Beanfield War and “Yanks.”

In the 2000s, he worked as an acting coach and teacher. Vennera also founded and taught at the Los Angeles Renegade Theatre and Film Group. The theatre’s Yelp page shows glowing reviews of his teaching and an evident admiration for Vennera from the performers who studied under him.

His last screen appearance was in the 2005 movie Glass Trap, and his final voice work was in the 2009 English version of the video game Bayonetta.