The onetime scholarship athlete switched to singing when the head of the University of Southern California's music department heard Presnell's voice. He later left school to sing in Europe before landing the role in the stage version of "Molly Brown" that would make him famous. In time, he amassed an impressive list of leading-man stage credits, playing Daddy Warbucks in "Annie," among other roles.
Presnell also starred alongside Clint Eastwood as a crooning saloon owner in Paint Your Wagon (1969) but is perhaps best known for portraying William H. Macy's doomed father-in-law in Fargo (1996). Presnell succumbed to pancreatic cancer June 30, 2009.