Chick Vennera, ‘Golden Girls’ & ‘Thank God It’s Friday’ Actor, Dies At 74
Chick Vennera, an actor who starred in more than 50 films over the course of his decades-long career, has died at the age of 74. Vennera’s daughter, Nicky Vennera, confirmed that her father passed in his Burbank home after a lengthy battle with lung cancer.
Chick was born Francis Vennera on March 27, 1947, in Herkimer, New York, but he traveled out West in order to pursue acting. After a brief stint in the Army, he spent two more years performing with Disney on Parade as a dancer, acrobat and clown for the North American tour. Afterward, he played the role of Sonny in the national company of Grease.
Vennera is most well-known for his roles as a bean farmer alongside Robert Redford in The Milagro Beanfield War and a dancer in head-to-toe leather performing atop a car in Thank God It’s Friday. He also appeared in such TV shows as Lucas Tanner, Baretta, Vega$, T.J. Hooker, Night Court, Mad About You and more. Vennera played Enrique Mas, the boss of Betty White’s character Rose, on two episodes of Golden Girls.
Still, Vennera is best remembered as Marv “Leatherman” Gomez in Thank God It’s Friday (1978). The actor’s highly quotable line, which comes right before he danced across the tops of cars was, “You ain’t going to be happy until you’re free, and the only way you are going to be free is to get loose! And the only way you are going to get loose is to dance! So come on, let me see some of your moves!”
The performer also kept busy with voiceover work including the Animaniacs, Foofur, Capitol Critters, Darkwing Duck, The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest, Cow and Chicken and Batman Beyond.
In recent years, Vennera had spent his time teaching acting at the Beverly Hills Playhouse, where he, himself, had studied, as well as at his own place, the Renegade Theatre and Film Group.
In addition to his daughter, Vennera is survived by his wife of 40 years, Susanne, and his son-in-law, Jason.