Even though Sam Hennings remained relatively under-the-radar for most of his Hollywood career, he always delivered strong supporting roles both in film and on television. The hardworking actor launched his career in the mid-1980s with minor appearances on televised serials and in independent features. Hennings began to make bigger waves in his chosen profession the following decade with a featured role as a basketball coach in the biopic "Final Shot: The Hank Gathers Story" (1992). Throughout his career, Hennings acted opposite the biggest names in show business - from Holly Hunter to Anne Hathaway, but it was in the epic Howard Hughes biopic "The Aviator" (2004) that provided Hennings the opportunity to work with legendary director Martin Scorsese. The young actor's years working in the trenches of a tough industry prepared him for the challenge of playing a veteran police detective on "Memphis Beat" (TNT, 2010-11). Acting alongside Jason Lee on the acclaimed series opened wide numerous opportunities for Hennings to carry solo projects while also proving his talent and gumption as a seasoned character actor in ensemble productions.
Born in Macon, GA, Sam Hennings was of German, English, and Scotch-Irish ancestry. His father was a Navy pilot during World War II. The future star spent his youth in Athens and began his professional career as a writer and actor, bouncing between New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles. He made his television-acting debut on the pilot episode of "Moonlighting" (ABC, 1985-89), the stylish series that starred Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd as a pair of fast-talking detectives. Hennings spent the better part of the 1980s playing minor roles on primetime serials, from the long-running drama "Dallas" (CBS, 1978-1991) to the cult favorite "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (syndicated, 1987-1994). By decade's end, the hardworking actor transitioned into supporting parts in feature films. In 1988, Hennings landed a featured role on the family drama "On Our Own" as the uncle of four orphaned children who set out to find him after their mother's untimely death.
A steady stream of bit parts on the small screen kept Hennings' acting calendar full, while the actor delivered strong performance with each undertaking. His intense portrayal of a basketball coach in the biographical drama "Final Shot: The Hank Gathers Story" saw Hennings in an emotionally driven performance while acting alongside more established actors George Kennedy and Nell Carter. He received top billing in the period drama "Seasons of the Heart" (1993), where he played a Civil War-era man whose daughters died of cholera. His career gained more momentum in 1998 after Hennings landed a recurring role as a Navy Captain in command of the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Guadalcanal on the military drama "JAG" (NBC, 1995-2005) opposite David James Elliott and Catherine Bell. Hennings leaped to the big screen once again in 2004 with a supporting role in "The Aviator." The Martin Scorsese-directed epic starred Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes, the reclusive aviation pioneer and film producer who suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder. The following year, Hennings appeared in the gritty urban drama "Havoc" starring Anne Hathaway and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
Despite landing roles in the big screen, Hennings maintained a solid presence on television. He acted on a number of short-lived primetime projects such as "E-Ring" (NBC, 2005-06) and "Dollhouse" (Fox, 2009-2010), and also made guest appearances on award-winning serials such as "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" (CBS, 2000-15) and "Saving Grace" (TNT, 2007-2010), on the latter of which he appeared as the brother of a tough-talking Oklahoma City police detective (Holly Hunter). In 2011, Hennings landed a regular role on the TNT series "Memphis Beat." The show centered on Dwight Hendricks (Jason Lee), an easygoing and quirky Memphis, Tennessee police detective who loves blues music and clashes with his strict boss Lt. Tanya Rice (Alfre Woodard). Hennings played Dwight's experienced and hypertensive partner Charlie "Whitehead" White.