Helen Quinn (Pennie) duPont, 75, of Greenwich Village, New York passed away peacefully at the Methodist Country House in Wilmington, Delaware on June 13, 2014.
Pennie was born in Johnstown, PA in1939 to the late Helen L. Rodgers and James Q. duPont. She is survived by her sister Deborah duP. Riegel of Wilmington, and by two brothers, P. Coleman duPont of Wilmington and Jamie MacKenzie of Taconic, Connecticut. She is also survived by two nieces, two nephews, two grand nieces and one grand nephew.
Pennie graduated from Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, Connecticut and Bradford Junior College in Haverhill, Massachusetts before going on to the Yale Drama School in New Haven, Connecticut. After attending The Yale Drama School, Pennie studied with Uta Hagen in New York and then worked in theater both on and off Broadway. A meticulous, knowledgable, and universally respected professional who brought her experience to many domains, Pennie’s career also included casting major motion pictures such as The Karate Kid, Peggy Sue Got Married, and Arizona Dream for directors Fred Schepisi, John Avildsen, Francis Ford Coppola and Emir Kusturica. She also did the west coast casting on Star 80 for Bob Fosse and Annie for John Huston. She was a founder of the City Center Young Peoples Theater and produced The Shrinking Bride off Broadway, introducing Danny de Vito.
Pennie began casting films when Ray Stark hired her to do a search for Annie. She did five other films for Stark; then went to work for Daniel Melnick’s IndiProd, casting such films as Roxanne and Quicksilver. She worked for Columbia and Tri Star in Los Angeles until returning to New York. She co-hosted the television show The Good Life with John Newcomb, syndicated in the US and Australia. As a writer, she sold a number of screenplays, including the award-winning Torn Between Two Fathers, an ABC after school special. During the 90’s, she directed and produced short archival films for The New York School of Interior Design.
Pennie also taught acting and directing at NYU, both in New York City and Singapore, and at the Lee Strasberg Theater and Film Institute. One of the high points of her career was a project with Karen Ludwig to produce and direct Uta Hagen’s Acting Class, a renowned teaching documentary of her incomparable teacher and friend.
Pennie was a member of WAC; a feminist activist group of the late 80’s and early 90’s which organized actions around reproductive rights and equal pay. She loved going to movies, rowing on the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn and just being outdoors. She will be deeply missed by all her family, friends, neighbors, students and colleagues. The family would like to recognize the extraordinary care given Pennie by all the staff at the Methodist Country House and Compassionate Care Hospice.
Services are private. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to: HB Studio, 120 Bank Street, New York, NY 10014.