Daily | Eileen Brennan, 1932 – 2013

Eileen Brennan

Eileen Brennan in ‘The Last Picture Show’

Eileen Brennan, the veteran actress perhaps best known for her role as the goodhearted Texas waitress in Peter Bogdanovich’s The Last Picture Show, has died. She was 80.” Mike Barnes in the Hollywood Reporter: “Brennan also received an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress playing tough drill captain Doreen Lewis opposite Goldie Hawn in the fish-out-of-water comedy Private Benjamin (1980).”

She was “the memorable brothel madam Billie, a confidant to con man Paul Newman in the 1973 Oscar best picture winner The Sting,” notes Allegra Tepper in Variety, as well as Mrs. Peacock in Clue and “Peter Falk’s long-suffering secretary Tess in the Agatha Christie motion picture lampoon Murder by Death.”

Back to Barnes: “She often played world-weary, sympathetic characters yet demonstrated a real comic flair throughout her career. Her other films include three more for Bogdanovich: Daisy Miller (1974), At Long Last Love (1975) and Texasville (1990); [Neil] Simon’s Cheap Detective (1978), the follow-up to Murder by Death; the road movie Scarecrow (1973), opposite Al Pacino and Gene Hackman; The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking (1988); Stella (1990) with Bette Midler; FM (1978); Jeepers Creepers (2001), playing The Cat Lady; and Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous (2005).”

For Reuters, Greg Gilman notes that Brennan’s mother, Regina Manahan, was a silent film actress, and that she’s “survived by sons Sam and Patrick—an actor who appeared in Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2—daughter-in-law Jessica, sister Kate and grandchildren Liam and Maggie.”

Updates, 7/31: At the AV Club, Sean O’Neal posts several clips and notes: “She was also seen quite often on TV, having parlayed her feature film debut in the Norman Lear-produced, Dick Van Dyke comedy Divorce American Style into a brief stint on Laugh-In, as well as a memorable role in an episode of Lear’s All in the Family, where she’s trapped on an elevator with Archie Bunker.”

More from Anita Gates (New York Times), Ryan Gilbey (Guardian), and Mark Olsen (Los Angeles Times).

Update, 11/10: Peter Bogdanovich has posted a remembrance in which he notes that “she was the consummate professional, always well prepared, ready to try anything, vividly able to sustain an especially long take, such as doing fourteen pages without a cut in Daisy Miller, or in At Long Last Love playing an entire intricate song-and-dance number in one shot. Eileen had a great sense of humor and of the absurd: she was very funny, never at others’ expense, quick with sympathy, and as dear as a true friend can be.”

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