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Throughout his storied career, actor Brian Dennehy has had a fantastic resume of characters who were iconic presences. In turn, the man himself was quite iconic when it came to his works on stage and screen, giving modern moviegoers another familiar face to look out for. It’s in the light of Dennehy’s stellar works that we sadly must announce that the actor, known for movies such as Tommy Boy and recent TV guest spots such as his appearances on NBC’s The Blacklist, has just passed away at the age of 81.
TMZ reported that Brian Dennehy, most recently seen playing Dominic Wilkinson, the grandfather to The Blacklist protagonist Elizabeth Keen, died of natural causes on Wednesday night in Connecticut. Dennehy was also known for many other roles in movies like First Blood, the F/X series,and the ‘90s comedy classic Tommy Boy. He also had an extensive TV resume that saw him play guest spots on Koljak, MASH and even 30 Rock.
Starting his professional life as a stockbroker for Merrill Lynch, Brian Dennehy would eventually break onto the acting scene in 1977 through a series of acting gigs. Sheriff Will Teasle would be his earliest calling card, as the first film in the Rambo franchise, First Blood, would see his character go head to head with Sylvester Stallone’s John Rambo himself.
Able to play a hero or a villain in equal turn, Brian Dennehy’s stage output would become more prolific in the later phase of his career, with two Tony Awards eventually coming his way for Best Lead Actor in a Play. One came from his 1999 run in Death of a Salesman, and another from his part in Long Day’s Journey Into Night in 2003.
Interestingly enough, one of Brian Dennehy’s most memorable roles from recent years has to have been that of Django, the disapproving father in 2007’s Ratatouille. Fittingly, one of the coolest anecdotes to ever be told about Brian Dennehy had to come from comedian/Ratatouille co-star Patton Oswalt, as he discussed an encounter he had with the actor during the Batman Begins premiere.
If anyone was asked how they remembered Brian Dennehy, a lot of different scenarios would come to mind. His life as a veteran character actor, his dynamic stage presence and being a television fixture all certainly come to mind. But, as Patton Oswalt showed in his stand-up story, Dennehy was also known as a pretty relaxed guy who knew the highlights of having the sort of career he richly enjoyed throughout the duration of his life.
We here at CinemaBlend send our sincerest condolences go to Brian Dennehy’s family, as he is survived by his wife and five children.