Rest in Peace, Actor Brian Dennehy of ‘Death of a Salesman,’ ‘First Blood,’ ‘Tommy Boy’ and More: 1938-2020


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Brian Dennehy, iconic actor who for decades made a name for himself in Hollywood, has passed away at the age of 81, it was reported on Thursday.

Via the Hollywood Reporter, Dennehy died of natural causes on Wednesday evening in New Haven, Connecticut.

Elizabeth Dennehy, daughter of Brian Dennehy, sent along a statement about her father’s passing on Twitter:

Among the titles that put Dennehy on the map were a sheriff opposite Sylvester Stallone in 1982’s First Blood and in the 1985 film Cocoon, among many others.

In 1995, Dennehy portrayed the father figure to Chris Farley’s titular Tommy Boy in a particularly entertaining on-screen father/son pairing:

The Hollywood Reporter’s remembrance of Dennehy included significant attention to his theatrical performances and accolades:

Dennehy won Tony Awards in 1999 and 2003 for playing Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman — he was the fourth actor to play the iconic role on Broadway — and Tyrone in Long Day’s Journey Into Night.

In the former, the imposing actor displayed “a grand emotional expansiveness that matches his monumental physique,” Ben Brantley wrote in his New York Times review. “Yet these emotions ring so unerringly true that Mr. Dennehy seems to kidnap you by force, trapping you inside Willy’s psyche.”

He also starred opposite Christopher Plummer in a 2007 Broadway revival of Inherit the Wind.

Whenever he could, Dennehy retreated to the stage in Chicago, saying he preferred the Midwest “because I can sit down with rational people who make $50,000 a year and live in houses and have children and pay their taxes and shop at Sears.”

Rest in peace, Brian Dennehy.


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