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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury

music

Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas

film

Arts and Entertainment

music

Arts and Entertainment
A shot from the forthcoming Fast and Furious 7

film

Arts and Entertainment
The new-look Top of the Pops could see Fearne Cotton returns as a host alongside Dermot O'Leary

TV

Arts and Entertainment
The leader of the Church of Scientology David Miscavige

TV

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment

book review
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
  • Get to the point
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.

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence