RIP Brian Dennehy

Brian Manion Dennehy¬†(July 9, 1938 ‚Äď April 15, 2020) was an American actor of film, stage, and television. A winner of one¬†Golden Globe, two¬†Tony Awards¬†and a recipient of six¬†Primetime Emmy Award¬†nominations, he gained initial recognition in film for his role as Sheriff Will Teasle in¬†First Blood¬†(1982). He had roles in numerous films including¬†Gorky Park¬†(1983),¬† Silverado (1985),¬† Cocoon¬†(1985),¬† F/X¬†(1986),¬† Presumed Innocent¬†(1990),¬†Romeo + Juliet¬†(1996), and¬†Knight of Cups¬†(2015). Dennehy won the¬†Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Miniseries or Television Film¬†for his role as¬†Willy Loman¬†in the television film¬†Death of a Salesman¬†(2000).

Dennehy¬†a decades long relationship with Chicago’s¬†Goodman Theatre¬†where much of his playwright Eugene O’Neill work’s originated and was in several of them. He also regularly played Canada’s¬†Stratford Festival, especially in works by¬†William Shakespeare¬†and¬†Samuel Beckett.¬†One of his most well-known roles came in the 1995¬†Chris Farley-David Spade¬†comedy¬†Tommy Boy¬†as Big Tom Callahan, where also was reunited with his¬†10¬†co-star¬†Bo Derek. Dennehy began his professional acting career in small guest roles in such 1970s and 1980s series as¬†Kojak,¬†Lou Grant,¬†Dallas,¬†Dynasty, and¬†Hunter. He also appeared in an episode of¬†Miami Vice¬†during the 1987‚Äď88 season. n 1992, he was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or TV Movie for his performance as¬†John Wayne Gacy¬†in¬†To Catch a Killer, and was nominated that same year in a different category, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or TV Movie, for¬†The Burden of Proof.

Other Emmy nominations were for his work in¬†A Killing in a Small Town,¬†Murder in the Heartland¬†(1993) and for the¬†Showtime¬†cable TV movie¬†Our Fathers¬†(2005), which was about the¬†Roman Catholic Church sex abuse scandal. In 2000, Dennehy was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or TV Movie for a television presentation of his performance as¬†Willy Loman¬†in¬†Arthur Miller’s¬†Death of a Salesman¬†which he had performed on¬†Broadway. The performance did, however, precipitate a¬†Golden Globe Award. More recently Dennehy has several appearances as Elizabeth Keen’s grandfather on the NBC series¬†The Blacklist.

Dennehy enlisted in the United States Marine Corps from 1958 to 1963, including a brief stint on Okinawa. He married twice and had five children including actress Elizabeth Dennehy. Dennehy died on April 15 2020, of cardiac arrest due to sepsis during a hospital stay in New Haven, Connecticut.

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