Entertainment News

Brian Dennehy dies of cardiac arrest

By Fred Topel   |   April 16, 2020 at 2:20 PM
Brian Dennehy died Wednesday of cardiac arrest, his agent and daughter both confirmed. File Photo by Laura Cavanaugh/UPI

April 16 (UPI) -- Actor Brian Dennehy died on Wednesday night at age 81. His daughter, Elizabeth Dennehy, confirmed in a tweet on Thursday.

Dennehy's agent, Brian Mann, confirmed to to The Chicago Tribune the cause of death by cardiac arrest due to sepsis.

Movie buffs knew Dennehy as a character actor who would show up in memorable supporting roles. In Cocoon, he was the leader of the aliens storing their cocoons in a retirement home swimming pool. In the F/X movies, he was a cop teaming up with a special effects artist (Bryan Brown).

In First Blood, the original Rambo film, Dennehy played a small town sheriff who harasses John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone), driving him to violent retaliation. He played a district attorney who suspected Harrison Ford of murder in Presumed Innocent and Chris Farley's father in Tommy Boy.

On television he had recurring roles on Dynasty, Just Shoot Me!, The Good Wife, The Blacklist and more. He also appeared on episodes of Kojack, Police Woman, M*A*S*H, Dallas, Knots Landing, Cagney & Lacey, Miami Vice, The West Wing and many more. His television work earned six Emmy nominations and a Golden Globe, which he won for the television movie of Death of a Salesman.

He played real life figures such as Indiana basketball coach Bobby Knight, union leader Jackie Presser and attorney Clarence Darrow

Dennehy also won two Tony Awards for his performances as Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman and James Tyrone in Long Day's Journey Into Night. He also performed in many other Eugene O'Neill plays and often at Shakespeare at Canada's Stratford Festival.

Dennehy is survived by his second wife Jennifer Arnott, and five children including Elizabeth, Cormack, Kathleen, Deirdre and Sarah.