Private Benjamin star Eileen Brennan dies of bladder cancer

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

 

The actress best known for her Oscar-nominated role as Goldie Hawn’s tormentor in 1980 comedy Private Benjamin has died aged 80.

Eileen Brennan died of bladder cancer at her home in Burbank, Los Angeles on Sunday.

“Our family is so grateful for the outpouring of love and respect for Eileen,” her family said in a statement. '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.”

Hawn paid tribute to her “old friend Eileen Brennan” on Twitter and in a statement.

 “No one ever made me laugh more!  Now I cry.  Please keep singing darling from on high. Rest,” she tweeted.

"Our world has lost a rare human,” she added in a statement. "Eileen was a brilliant comedian, a powerful dramatic actress and had the voice of an angel."

Brennan, who had a famously husky voice and was known for playing cantankerous and opinionated women, also appeared in The Last Picture Show, Clue and The Sting. Between 2001 and 2006 she was a regular as Zandra in TV comedy Will & Grace.

She was nominated for a best supporting Oscar for her memorable role as US Army Captain Doreen Lewis in Private Benjamin, was Bafta-nominated for playing Genevieve the waitress in The Last Picture Show and received seven Emmy nominations in her lifetime.

Brennan and Hawn also appeared together in the first series of American sketch TV show Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In.

The actress was seriously injured in 1982 when she was hit by a car following a dinner with Hawn in Los Angeles.

She later became addicted to painkillers and entered the Betty Ford clinic in 1984.

“It was my only hope. I had reached the stage where I was taking anything I could get my hands on,” Brennan told People magazine in 1985.

“Everyone hits bottom their own way. Mine came through my accident, which led to my pill addiction, which led to my birth. I say birth rather than rebirth because I feel born new. I re-established a spiritual connection that is lost when you are taking any kind of drug. Strangely enough I wouldn't have missed my accident. It just knocks me out to say that, but I mean it.”

Born Verla Eileen Regina Brennan in September 1932, she started out on the stage before moving to Hollywood in the 1960s. Her film debut was in the comedy Divorce American Style opposite Debbie Reynolds and Dick Van Dyke.

She also appeared in two Neil Simon comedies, Murder by Death and The Cheap Detective, and in Clue as Mrs Peacock.

Recent roles include Jeepers Creepers (2001) and Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous (2005) as William Shatner's mother, even though she was younger than him.

Brennan was married to David John Lampson from 1968 to 1974. She is survived by two sons, Patrick Brennan and Sam Lampson.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off contestants line-up behind Sue and Mel in the Bake Off tent

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Mitch Winehouse is releasing a new album

music
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him

music
Arts and Entertainment
On set of the Secret Cinema's Back to the Future event

film
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Public vote: Art Everywhere poster in a bus shelter featuring John Hoyland
art
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judd Apatow’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach is ideal for comedies about stoners and slackers slouching towards adulthood
filmWith comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Arts and Entertainment
booksForget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Arts and Entertainment
Off set: Bab El Hara
tvTV series are being filmed outside the country, but the influence of the regime is still being felt
Arts and Entertainment
Red Bastard: Where self-realisation is delivered through monstrous clowning and audience interaction
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rhino Doodle by Jim Carter (Downton Abbey)

TV
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film

film
Arts and Entertainment
Comedian 'Weird Al' Yankovic

Is the comedy album making a comeback?

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

    Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
    Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
    How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

    How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

    Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
    Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

    Pop-up hotels filling a niche

    Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
    Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

    Feather dust-up

    A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
    Boris Johnson's war on diesel

    Boris Johnson's war on diesel

    11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
    5 best waterproof cameras

    Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

    Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
    Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

    Louis van Gaal interview

    Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
    Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

    Will Gore: Outside Edge

    The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
    The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

    The air strikes were tragically real

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns
    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

    Britain as others see us

    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
    How did our legends really begin?

    How did our legends really begin?

    Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
    Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz