Emmy Winner Eileen Brennan Dead at 80

eileen-brennanTV vet Eileen Brennan — who took home a Supporting Actress Emmy in 1983 for her work in the TV adaptation of Private Benjamin — died on Sunday at age 80 from bladder cancer.

Brennan’s career in TV and movies spanned six decades, from her breakthrough run as a series regular on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh In in 1968 to her Emmy-nominated turn as Jack’s acting coach Zandra on Will & Grace. In all, Brennan racked up seven Emmy nods — in addition to the aforementioned series, she was also singled out for her work on thirtysomething, Newhart and Taxi — and an Academy Award nomination as the acerbic Capt. Doreen Lewis in the big-screen version of Private Benjamin.

Early in her career, Brennan scored guest spots on All in the Family, McMillan & Wife and A New Kind of Family, while also landing film roles in The Sting and Daisy Miller.

After the big-screen success of Private Benjamin in 1980, Brennan reprised her role as Capt. Lewis for three seasons of its TV adaptation, with Lorna Patterson stepping into the title role in place of Goldie Hawn. Brennan also famously ravaged Taxi‘s Louis De Palma, as his boss’ wanton wife, and played Mrs. Peacock in the film version of the board game Clue.

More recently, Brennan’s work included a recurring role on 7th Heaven in the early 2000s, as well as six episodes of Will & Grace.

Share your favorite memories from Brennan’s career in the comments.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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26 Comments
  1. Countryfan27 says:

    She was very talented actress who could reach generations with her amazing ability to switch from drama to comedy, she will be missed.

  2. KMC says:

    Rest in Peace, Mrs. Peacock.

  3. S. says:

    Loved her in Private Benjamin. She was a truly talented lady.

  4. Marla Kapit says:

    I worked on 7th Heaven for several years and had a small minor recurring role. I remember Eileen. Lovely woman. Very sad to hear of her passing.

  5. Joe R says:

    She will live forever in my heart thanks to her hilarious portrayal as Capt. Lewis. Classic role, done to perfection. RIP, Eileen.

  6. TJ says:

    Just watched her in an episode of Murder She Wrote… always fabulous and full of energy. RIP

  7. Also adored her Mrs. Peacock!

  8. Allison says:

    No mention of Clue.

  9. Scott says:

    Love you Eileen! May you rest in peace, and bless you for all your gifts of comedy!!

  10. Lisa says:

    She’s also in one of my favorite movies Murder by Death.

  11. Ben says:

    Loved her in Clue.

  12. Steven says:

    “Take your hands off me! I’m a senator’s wife!” RIP Mrs. Peacock.

  13. Britta Unfiltered says:

    Awww, poor Mrs. Peacock. This is sad news to me. I wish her family the best. And I’m going to go watch Clue tonight in memory of her. I hope she and Madeline Kahn are living it up somewhere together as the talented and fabulous ladies they always were.

  14. Daniel says:

    She was Amazing as Zandra on ‘Will & Grace’. Rest In Peace Eileen.

  15. Joey says:

    Somehow, wherever she is now, I can just imagine what she’s saying: “I mean, I have absolutely no idea what [I’m] doing here, or what this place is about, but I am /determined/ to enjoy myself.”

  16. SJ says:

    RIP my dear Mrs. Peacock! :(

  17. Wendy says:

    She also played Carter’s landlady on ER for an episode (when the apartment burned down!), too. But how cool her role as Captain Lewis in “Private Benjamin” got her an Academy Award nomination for the movie AND an Emmy for the TV series! She was talented and will be missed.

  18. kate says:

    RIP Mrs. Peacock. the kingdom of heaven IS at hand.

  19. kelsey says:

    A true talent, and a professional in everything she did.
    RIP, Eileen.

  20. meeby says:

    Private Benjamin, Clue, and Murder by Death. . . all memorable roles of hers for me. May she rest in peace.

  21. Mikael says:

    Clue is one of my favorite movies of all time. She was so great as Mrs. Peacock. “Maybe she was poisoned!” “AHHHHH!!!” (slap!) “Well I had to stop her screaming.” Such a quotable movie. RIP.

  22. Mary says:

    What about “FM”? She played the sexy night DJ Mother. She knew how to purr into the mike to get listeners to the station.