Brian Dennehy
Brian Dennehy as Dalton Trumbo in "Trumbo." Photo: Allen Brisson-Smith.

Award-Winning Actor Brain Dennehy Dead At 81

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BRIDGEPORT, CT (CelebrityAccess) — Brian Dennehy, an award-winning stage and screen actor who was known for his roles in First Blood, Gorky Park, Cocoon, and Presumed Innocent, has died. He was 81.

Dennehy’s daughter actress Elizabeth Dennehy confirmed the news via social media on Thursday, stating that her father had died Wednesday night of natural causes, adding that COVID-19 was not a factor.

“Larger than life, generous to a fault, a proud and devoted father and grandfather, he will be missed by his wife Jennifer, family and many friends,” Elizabeth Dennehy wrote in a statement posted to Twitter.

Born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Dennehy attended Columbia University on a football scholarship and later attended Yale, where he pursued graduate studies in the dramatic arts.

He spent four years in the Marine Corps and was discharged in 1963. He also did a stint with Merill Lynch as a stockbroker before pursuing a career in acting.

His first roles came on television as small parts on series such as Kojak, Lou Grant, and Dallas, as well as made-for-television movies such as Skokie, Split Image, and A Killing in a Small Town.

His breakthrough role in the big screen came when he was cast as Sheriff Will Teasle in the first Rambo movie, “First Blood” in 1982. He landed roles in “Legal Eagles” (1986), “Semi-Tough” (1977), “Silverado” (1985), and “Presumed Innocent” (1990) among others.

One of his best-known roles came in 1995 when he appeared as the gruff but affectionate father Big Tom Callahan in the David Spade, Chris Farley comedy “Tommy Boy” and he portrayed attorney Clarence Darrow in the 2010 film “Alleged” based on the famed Scopes Monkey Trial.

On stage, he won two Tony Awards for Best Actor, for the 1999 revival of “Death of a Salesman” and the 2003 revival of Eugene O’Niell’s “Long Day’s Journey into Night.”


He was married twice and has five children including Elizabeth Dennehy.

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