Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Actress Eileen Brennan dies at 80

Oscar-nominated actress Eileen Brennan has died.

Actress Eileen Brennan dies at 80

Actress Brennan Eileen models clothes at a gala in Hollywood where stars wore original costumes in honor of the designers, Oct. 1982. (AP Photo/Doug Pizac)
Actress Brennan Eileen models clothes at a gala in Hollywood where stars wore original costumes in honor of the designers, Oct. 1982. (AP Photo/Doug Pizac) AP

Oscar-nominated, veteran actress Eileen Brennan has died. She was 80.

The star passed away Sunday in Burbank from bladder cancer, Brennan's publicist confirmed to THR.

Brennan was best-known for her roles as a sweet Texas waitress in The Last Picture Show, and opposite Goldie Hawn as Army Capt. Doreen Lewis in Private Benjamin (1980), for which she received an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress. 

Other memorable roles from Brennan, among a long and illustrious list of credits in the film and television industries, include Mrs. Peacock in Clue and Tess in Murder by Death. She also played ruthless orphanage head Miss Bannister in The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking (1988).

"I love meanies, and this goes back to Capt. Lewis in 'Private Benjamin,'" Brennan told The Associated Press in a 1988 interview. "You know why? Because they have no sense of humor. People who are mean or unkind or rigid — think about it — cannot laugh at themselves. If we can't laugh at ourselves and the human condition, we're going to be mean."

The actress first got her first big role in a musical comedy called "Little Mary Sunshine," for which she received a 1960 Obie award.

The star's Hollywood career almost ended following a 1982 near-fatal car accident in Venice, Calif. Brennan's injuries were so severe that she had crushed bones in her face, in addition to an eyeball pulled from its socket, in addition to smashed legs. Brennan said she battled her debilitating injuries "with rage."

As a result, Brennan became addicted to prescription pills. Two years later, the star checked into the Betty Ford Center.

After overcoming addiction and anxiety, Brennan eventually proved her acting prowess again by appearing on shows like "7th Heaven" and "Will & Grace."

"You learn from powerful things," she said in 1992, adding that she was "glad" she was in the car accident.

She is survived by her two sons, Sam and Patrick, and her two grandchildren.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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