Biography

Trained at Iowa's Morningside College for a career as a musician, American actor Emory Parnell spent his earliest performing years as a concert violinist. He worked the Chautauqua and Lyceum tent circuits for a decade before leaving the road in 1930. For the next few seasons, Parnell acted and narrated in commercial and industrial films produced in Detroit. Determining that the oppurtunities and renumeration were better in Hollywood, Emory and his actress wife Effie boarded the Super Chief and headed for California. Endowed with a ruddy Irish countenance and perpetual air of frustration, Parnell immediately landed a string of character roles as cops, small town business owners, fathers-in-law and landlords (though his very first film part in Bing Crosby's Dr. Rhythm [1938] was cut out before release). In roles both large and small, Parnell became an inescapable presence in B-films of the '40s; one of his better showings was in the A-picture Louisiana Purchase, in which, as a Paramount movie executive, he sings an opening song about avoiding libel suits! Parnell was a regular in Universal's Ma and Pa Kettle film series (1949-55), playing small town entrepreneur Billy Reed; on TV, the actor appeared as William Bendix' factory foreman The Life of Riley (1952-58). Emory Parnell's last public appearance was in 1974, when he, his wife Effie, and several other hale-and-hearty residents of the Motion Picture Country Home and Hospital were interviewed by Tom Snyder. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi