It's a very sad day today as legendary actor Brian Dennehy, known for his memorable roles in movies like First Blood, Tommy Boy, and dozens of others, has reportedly passed away. According to TMZ, law enforcement sources claim Dennehy died of "natural causes" in Connecticut on Wednesday night, and there won't be an official autopsy to determine an exact cause. He was 81 years old.
Brian Dennehy was born on July 9, 1938, in Bridgeport, Connecticut. As a young man, he attended Columbia University in New York City by way of a football scholarship, playing football and studying history at the school. He'd later study dramatic arts at Yale before spending five years serving with the U.S. Marine Corps. By the late '70s, Dennehy began to pursue acting professionally, launching a career in Hollywood that would span over five decades.
Beginning with guest spots on television shows like Kojak and M*A*S*H and parts in the '70s movies Semi-Touch and Looking for Mr. Goodbar, Dennehy's breakout role came in the Sylvester Stallone classic First Blood. Released in 1982, the movie introduced the iconic character of John Rambo, with Dennehy serving as his first foe as overzealous sheriff Will Teasle. He'd follow this up with roles as an alien in Cocoon and a corrupt sheriff in Silverado, also appearing as memorable characters in movies like Split Image, Best Seller, Legal Eagles, and The Man from Snowy River II. For his role in The Belly of an Architect, Dennehy won the Best Actor Award at the 1987 Chicago International Film Festival.
Though well-established as a dramatic actor by the '90s, one of Dennehy's most popular roles came along in 1995 when he appeared in the classic comedy Tommy Boy. In the movie, Dennehy plays Big Tom Callahan, the father of the titular lead played by Chris Farley. Dennehy was also very accomplished for his work in television movies, earning six Emmy Award nominations including Outstanding Lead Actor for his role as real-life serial killer John Wayne Gacy in To Catch a Killer. He was also recognized for his roles in The Burden of Proof, A Killing in a Small Town, Murder in the Heartland, Our Fathers, and Death of a Salesman.
Dennehy has also received acclaim for his theatre work. This includes winning two Tony Awards for Best Lead Actor in a Play for his roles in Death of a Salesman in 1999 and Long Day's Journey into Night in 2003. Some of his other stage shows include Translations, Inherit the Wind, and The Iceman Cometh. As an actor, Dennehy's final performance will put him back into film as he can be seen posthumously in the upcoming movie Son of the South alongside Lucy Hale, Lucas Till, and Cedric the Entertainer.
Dennehy's survivors include his wife, Jennifer Arnott, and five children, including actress Elizabeth Dennehy. We extend our condolences as our thoughts go out to them at this time. A movie, television, and theatre legend with so many roles to his name, Dennehy will have his work forever celebrated, and may he rest in peace. This news comes to us from TMZ.