Chris Penn has died, as reported here, at 43 years of age. Shocking. While he never became a big star, and was nowhere near as acclaimed as his more-famous brother, he was a fine actor that I always noticed whenever he popped up. While the piece I linked to mentions some of his more memorable role, I doubt any outlets will highlight the role that has always stood out in my head. In a first-season episode of Chicago Hope, perhaps the best episode of that show, Penn played the brother of a heart patient who had been passed over on the heart donor list. A desperate Penn, who is upset that his brother has been passed over several times, takes the operating room hostage, demanding that the doctors put the heart that has just become available into his brother, and not into the sicker man it is scheduled to be transplanted into. Playing a mix of grief, frustration, and boiled-over rage at the system, Penn was dead-perfect in the role, and I've always remembered him for it. A great performance.
Rest in peace.