Tony Pennello, an OOIDA member from Corona, CA, has been hit by a car, shot in the back, set on fire and body slammed, but he always gets up, collects his pay from the movie studio, climbs into his truck and hauls his next load to Texas.
Pennello, a 12-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department, spent 10 of those years acting and doing stunt work for Hollywood in addition to his police work.
As a Los Angeles policeman, Pennello worked various jobs from patrol, vice and gangs to traffic enforcement and collision investigations. He was a member of the gang task force in South Central Los Angeles. Last year Pennello left the police department and bought a new Kenworth W900. Now, he divides his time between Hollywood and trucking.
Pennello hauls specialized loads from California to Texas and Harley Davidson motorcycles from California to motorcycle rallies in Daytona Beach and Sturgis, SD. In addition to hauling Harleys, Pennello also transports movie studio equipment and sets, fine furniture for warehousing and general freight.
In Hollywood, he has worked in or on more than 50 films and television shows. His long list of feature films include "Rush Hour," "U.S. Marshals," "Hollow Man," "The Salton Sea," "Body Slam," "Mighty Joe Young," "Dante's Peak," "Heart of a Champion," "Bulworth," "Baby Geniuses," "Eight Heads in a Duffel Bag," "Eraser," "Money Train," "Speed" and Tom Hanks' smash hit "Cast Away." Tony was part of a group that provided water safety for the movie, making sure no one drowned. In "Lethal Weapon 3," he was the first policeman killed - he was shot in the back.
His television roster includes "Nash Bridges," "Felicity," "Diagnosis Murder," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Baywatch," "Pretenders," "The Visitor," "The Young and the Restless," "Days of Our Lives," "Beverly Hills 90210," "Married with Children" and "General Hospital."
Despite his extensive Hollywood resume and his attempts to get a small role on "18 Wheels of Justice," Pennello's truck played its own starring role opposite "Survivor" Susan Hawk. Hawk drove Pennello's viper red Kenworth in an episode filmed Oct. 12 in San Diego, CA. The episode aired the last week of January.
Pennello's 2000 Kenworth W900, with flames on its nose, looks like a life-sized Hot Wheels truck. The truck features a 275-inch wheelbase, an 86-inch studio sleeper and a 600 Cummins ISX engine and pulls a 53-foot air ride Great Dane trailer.
If trucking and Hollywood aren't enough, Pennello is working on his own film to teach four-wheelers about sharing the road with trucks. He hopes to get the 3-minute short documentary into movie theaters by next year. In his four years of research into the trucking business, Pennello noticed that everything was geared toward teaching safety to the truckdriver, but he wants a film that targets the motoring public. The film will include traffic scenarios and vignettes with narration by Hollywood stars.
"Movie theaters are a good way to hit millions of people fast and quick," Pennello said.
His project is still in the planning stages, as he is trying to get funding.
Tony and his wife, Kelly, had their first child in November. Paige Jordanne Pennello was born Nov. 21 and weighed 8 pounds, 3 ounces.
- René Tankersley