Rest In Peace Private Benjamin And Clue's Eileen Brennan, 1932-2013
This summer has taken yet another one of Hollywoodís treasures from us, as CNN confirms Oscar-nominated actress Eileen Brennan passed away on Sunday in her Burbank, California home, having lost her fight against bladder cancer. But at 80 years old, I hardly think anyone would call her anything but a victor.
Brennan is perhaps most widely known for playing the overbearing Capt. Doreen Lewis opposite Goldie Hawn in Harold Zieffís 1980 war comedy Private Benjamin, the role for which Brennan received a Best Actress in a Supporting Role nomination from the Academy. She went on to reprise this role in the short-lived TV series of the same name, which lasted from 1981-1983.
While Private Benjamin was a great movie, however, it isnít the film I think of when Brennanís name comes up. For me, she will always be Mrs. Peacock. As the gabby wife of a senator in Jonathan Lynnís cult comedy classic Clue, Brennanís Mrs. Peacock was the most memorable of any of the characterís media-spanning iterations. Re-introduce yourself to her in the clip below.
Brennan also classed up a pair of highly underrated Robert Moore comedy mysteries, starring in 1976ís Murder by Death and 1978ís The Cheap Detective, both of which were written by Neil Simon. Youíll also remember her from George Roy Hillís genius 1973 crime drama The Sting, from Peter Bogdanovichís excellent 1971 drama The Last Picture Show, and as The Cat Lady in the mostly forgettable horror Jeepers Creepers. Her most notable feature appearances in recent years were in Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous and The Amateurs. She also received a Razzie nomination for her work on 1998ís The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking, but everyone is willing to forgive that particular mess.
Brennan was just as prominent on the small screen as the big one during her career, earning Emmy nominations not only for her work as Cpt. Lewis, but also for her role in Taxi, as well as guest appearances in Newhart, thirtysomething and Will and Grace. And those accolades represent a small percentage of the shows she appeared on in her long career.
Born in 1932, Brennanís career began on the stage, which soon transitioned into work on Rowan & Martinís Laugh-In and an entry into Hollywood films. In the middle of her work on the Private Benjamin series, tragedy struck as she was hit by a car while leaving a restaurant, resulting in multiple broken bones and other injuries in her legs and face. Her recovery process was marred by an addiction to pain medication, which she conquered with a 1984 visit to the Betty Ford Clinic. She also survived a battle with breast cancer in 1990. Sadly, she couldnít defeat bladder cancer in the same way.
Cinema Blend sends our condolences to Mrs. Brennanís family and friends in their time of mourning. Now break out those dancing shoes and hit the floor for Brennaís performance of ďLa Vie En RoseĒ from The Cheap Detective.
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