Actor Brian Dennehy, whose many famous screen credits include First Blood, Tommy Boy and Cocoon, is dead at the age of 81. Dennehy passed away of natural causes, in Connecticut on Wednesday night, with his death being announced to fans via his daughter, Elizabeth, on Twitter. In the post (which you can see below) she wrote: "It is with heavy hearts we announce that our father, Brian passed away last night from natural causes, not Covid-related. Larger than life, generous to a fault, a proud and devoted father and grandfather, he will be missed by his wife Jennifer, family and many friends."
It is with heavy hearts we announce that our father, Brian passed away last night from natural causes, not Covid-related. Larger than life, generous to a fault, a proud and devoted father and grandfather, he will be missed by his wife Jennifer, family and many friends. pic.twitter.com/ILyrGpLnc3— Elizabeth Dennehy (@dennehyeliza) April 16, 2020
Brian Dennehy was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut in 1938, one of three boys, before his family relocated to Long Island, New York. He broke into acting through small guest roles in '70s and '80s TV series like Kojak, Dallas, and Dynasty. Dennehy became a character actor distinguished by his working class and/or Irish-American gruff demeanor, which fit so many different key roles. In reality, Dennehy had grown up as a talented football player, which led to a Columbia University scholarship, and later a graduate degree in dramatic studies from Yale. Anything but the blue-collar scrappy persona he had onscreen.
After racking up notable TV and film parts in the late '70s-80s, The world got to know Dennehy a lot better after his movie role as sheriff Will Teasle in First Blood (1982), one of the key antagonists in helping to shape the saga of Sylvester Stallone's John Rambo. His next big breakout would be in Ron Howard's Cocoon (1985), where he played the alien Walter. Brian Dennehy would continue to score memorable character actor turns in now-iconic films like Tommy Boy, Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet, the 2000s remake Assault on Precinct 13, Pixar's Ratatouille and so many others.
RIP Brian Dennehy. We offer prayers and condolences to his family in their time of loss.