Eileen Brennan, Star of ‘Private Benjamin,’ Dies at Age 80

Jul 30, 2013 4:52pm
GTY eileen brennan jt 130730 16x9 608 Eileen Brennan, Star of Private Benjamin, Dies at Age 80

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Veteran actress Eileen Brennan, known for her roles in “The Last Picture Show” and “Private Benjamin,” died Sunday at her home in Burbank, Calif., of bladder cancer. She was 80.

Her family confirmed the news and wrote in a statement, “Our family is so grateful for the outpouring of love and respect for Eileen. She was funny and caring and truly one of a kind. Her strength and love will never be forgotten. She will be greatly missed by all of us.”

Brennan received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for playing tough-talking Army Capt. Doreen Lewis opposite Goldie Hawn in the 1980 comedy “Private Benjamin.” She later reprised the role in the TV series spinoff, winning an Emmy Award.

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Other memorable roles include the kind-hearted Texas waitress in Peter Bogdanovich’s “The Last Picture Show,” a brothel madam opposite Paul Newman in “The Sting” and Mrs. Peacock in the movie “Clue.”

Brennan earned her comedic chops on “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” in the late 1960s.

She made a memorable guest appearance on “All in the Family,” where she was trapped in an elevator with Archie Bunker (Carroll O’Connor), a snooty black man, a Puerto Rican janitor and his pregnant wife.

Most recently, Brennan guested on several TV shows, including roles as Mrs. Bink on “7th Heaven” and Zandra, the acting coach, on “Will & Grace.”

She is survived by sons Sam and Patrick Brennan, who appeared in “Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2,” a sister and two grandchildren.

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