Brennan's management company, Unified Management, confirmed that the actress died from bladder cancer at her
Apart from a memorable presence in Broadway, the actress is best remembered for her roles as a weary, good-natured waitress in Peter Bogdanovich's “The Last Picture Show” (1971) and a hardened, unforgiving drill captain in “Private Benjamin” (1980). Both films earned her terrific reviews, and her performance in “Private Benjamin” gained her a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination. Brennan later reprised her role in the TV adaptation of the film, and in the process the actress won a Golden Globe and an Emmy award. She also appeared in “Daisy Miller” (1974), “At Long Last Love” (1985), “Murder By Death” (1976) and “The Cheap Detective” (1978).
Her life drastically changed, however, in 1982 when an oncoming car struck the actress, leaving her with a plethora of injuries including broken legs and an eyeball dislodged from its socket. The recovery process took numerous years of endurance, and to exacerbate matters, Brennan also became addicted to prescription painkillers and anti-anxiety medication. “It was my only hope,” said the actress in a People magazine interview in 1985. “I had reached the stage where I was taking anything I could get my hands on.”
She checked herself into the
"Everyone hits bottom their own way," she said. "Mine came through my accident, which led to my pill addiction, which led to my birth. I say birth rather than rebirth because I feel born new. I re-established a spiritual connection that is lost when you are taking any kind of drug. Strangely enough I wouldn't have missed my accident. It just knocks me out to say that, but I mean it."
Brennan returned to acting by performing in the ensemble comedy, "Clue" (1985), which demonstrated her persevering worth as a character actress. She later appeared in numerous films such as “Texasville” (1990) and “Changing Habits” (1997) as well as TV shows, including “Will & Grace” and “ER.”
Fellow co-stars Michael McKean (“Clue”) and Eric McCormack (“Will & Grace”) have taken to Twitter to express their condolences. “Eileen Brennan was a brilliant actress, a tough & tender woman and a comic angel; RIP, pal. #irreplaceable,” said McKean.
McCormack echoed similar sentiments. “A fond farewell to #EileenBrennan, so hysterical as Jack's acting teacher on #Will&Grace,” posted the actor.
The actress is survived by her ex-husband, David John Lampson, their two sons, Patrick and Sam, and her grandchildren Liam and Maggie.
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