Eileen Brennan of 'Private Benjamin,' 'Clue' dies
FILE - In this 1980 file image released by Warner Brothers Pictures, actress Eileen Brennan as Capt. Doreen Lewis in a scene from, "Private Benjamin." Brennan's manager, Kim Vasilakis, says Brennan, died Sunday, July 28, 2013, in Burbank, Calif., after a battle with bladder cancer. She was 80. (AP Photo/Warner Brothers Pictures, File)
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Whether she was issuing orders as an Army captain in "Private Benjamin," rambling as a real-life rendition of Mrs. Peacock from "Clue" or blasting an immortal monster with a shotgun as a crazy cat lady in "Jeepers Creepers," actress Eileen Brennan injected perfectly timed comedy into each of her roles.
Brennan died Sunday at home in Burbank, Calif., after a battle with bladder cancer, said her managers, Jessica Moresco and Al Onorato. She was 80.
"Our world has lost a rare human," said Brennan's "Private Benjamin" co-star Goldie Hawn in a statement Tuesday . "Eileen was a brilliant comedian, a powerful dramatic actress and had the voice of an angel. I will miss my old friend."
Brennan achieved her first major role on the New York stage in "Little Mary Sunshine," a musical comedy that won her the 1960 Obie award for best actress, as well as the attention of director Peter Bogdanovich,, who cast her as a weary waitress who inherits the cafe where she works in 1971's "The Last Picture Show."
Brennan went on to capture several sharp-tongued roles that won her fans on television and in movies, including gruff Army Capt. Doreen Lewis in 1980's "Private Benjamin," aloof Mrs. Peacock in 1985's "Clue" and cruel orphanage superintendent Miss Bannister in 1988's "The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking."
"I love meanies, and this goes back to Capt. Lewis in 'Private Benjamin,'" Brennan said a 1988 interview with The Associated Press. "You know why? Because they have no sense of humor. People who are mean or unkind or rigid — think about it — cannot laugh at themselves. If we can't laugh at ourselves and the human condition, we're going to be mean."
"Private Benjamin" brought her a supporting actress nomination for an Oscar. She also won an Emmy for reprising her "Private Benjamin" role in the television version and was nominated six other times for guest roles on such shows as "Newhart," ''thirtysomething," ''Taxi" and "Will & Grace," in which she played an over-the-top acting coach.
FILE - This Nov. 7, 1983 file photo shows actress Eileen Brennan, star of "Private Benjamin" in Los Angeles. Brennan's manager, Kim Vasilakis, says Brennan, who is best known for playing Capt. Doreen Lewis in "Private Benjamin," died Sunday, July 28, 2013, in Burbank, Calif., after a battle with bladder cancer. She was 80. (AP Photo/Nick Ut, File)
"Eileen Brennan was a brilliant actress, a tough and tender woman and a comic angel," tweeted "Clue" co-star Michael McKean.
Brennan's "Private Benjamin" role led to an enduring friendship with Hawn. A couple of years after they filmed the movie, Brennan and Hawn had dinner one night in 1982 in Venice, Calif. As they left the restaurant, Brennan was struck by a car. Her legs were smashed, bones on the left side of her face were broken, her left eye socket was shattered. Brennan said she fought her injuries with rage.