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Brian Dennehy (1938)

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  Summary  

Brian Mannion Dennehy is an American actor of film, stage and screen.

  Biography  

 early years
Dennehy was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the son of Hannah and Edward Dennehy, who was a wire service editor for the Associated Press; he has two brothers, Michael and Edward. Dennehy is of Irish ancestry and was raised Roman Catholic. The family relocated to Long Island, New York, where Dennehy attended Chaminade High School in the town of Mineola.

Rather than immediately chase his dreams of stage and screen, Dennehy enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1959, actively serving until 1963. Although he said in numerous interviews that he had fought in Vietnam during the Vietnam War, even telling harrowing tales of his service there, it was revealed in the 1998 book Stolen Valor by B.G. Burkett that Dennehy had never served overseas at all during his time in the military. Later that year, Dennehy admitted to the tabloid The Globe "I lied about serving in Vietnam and I'm sorry. That was very wrong of me. There is no real excuse for that. I was a peace-time Marine, and I got out in 1963 without ever serving in Vietnam. I started the story that I had been in 'Nam, and I got stuck with it. Then I didn't know how to set the record straight." In 2007, Dennehy once again told a reporter that he served in Vietnam, this time Joanne Kaufman of the Wall Street Journal.

He went on to attend Columbia on a football scholarship to major in history, where he also became a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity, before moving on to Yale to study dramatic arts. He played rugby union for Old Blue RFC.

 career
 Film
Dennehy is primarily known as a dramatic actor. His breakthrough role was as the overzealous Sheriff Will Teasle in First Blood opposite Sylvester Stallone as Rambo.

His earlier films did include several comedies like Semi-Tough with Burt Reynolds , 10 with Dudley Moore and Foul Play with Chevy Chase. He later portrayed a corrupt sheriff in the western Silverado and an alien in Cocoon, both released in 1985.

Memorable supporting parts featured Dennehy in such films as Split Image , Legal Eagles , F/X – Murder By Illusion , Presumed Innocent and F/X2 – The Deadly Art of Illusion .

Dennehy gradually became a valuable character actor but also achieved leading-man status in the thriller Best Seller co-starring James Woods. He gained his arthouse spurs when he starred in the Peter Greenaway film The Belly of an Architect, for which he won the Best Actor Award at the 1987 Chicago International Film Festival. Commenting upon this unusual venture, Dennehy said, "I've been in a lot of movies but this is the first film I've made."

He went on to star as Harrison in the Australian film The Man from Snowy River II in 1988.

One of his most well-known roles came in the 1995 Chris Farley-David Spade comedy Tommy Boy as Big Tom Callahan. He also was reunited with his 10 co-star Bo Derek in Tommy Boy, in which she played his wife.


Dennehy had a voice role in the animated movie Ratatouille as Django, the rat chef Remy's father. He appeared as the superior officer of Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino in the 2008 cop drama Righteous Kill and as the father of Russell Crowe in the 2010 suspense film The Next Three Days.

Dennehy starred as Clarence Darrow in Alleged, a film based on the Scopes Monkey Trial, the famous court battle over the teaching of evolution in American public schools.

 Television
Dennehy began his professional acting career in small guest roles in such 1970s and 1980s series as Kojak, Lou Grant, Dallas and Dynasty. He also appeared in an episode of Miami Vice during the 1987–88 season.

Dennehy portrayed Sergeant Ned T. "Frozen Chosen" Coleman in the television movie A Rumor of War opposite Brad Davis. He continued to appear in such high-profile television movies as Skokie , Split Image , Day One, , A Killing in a Small Town opposite Barbara Hershey, In Broad Daylight , Scott Turow's The Burden of Proof and the miniseries A Season in Purgatory. He also played the title role in HBO's Teamster Boss: The Jackie Presser Story.

Dennehy had a lead role as fire chief/celebrity dad Leslie "Buddy" Krebs in the short-lived 1982 series Star of the Family. Despite his star power, that show was canceled after a half a season.

Dennehy was nominated for Emmy Awards six times for his television movies including one for his performance as John Wayne Gacy, for which he was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or TV Movie. He was nominated that same year in a different category, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or TV Movie, for The Burden of Proof .

He was also nominated for an Emmy for his work in A Killing in a Small Town, Murder in the Heartland and for the Showtime cable TV movie Our Fathers , which was about the Roman Catholic Church sex abuse scandal.

In 2000, Dennehy was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or TV Movie for a television presentation of his performance as Willy Loman in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman which he had performed on Broadway. Although he did not win , he did receive a Golden Globe award.

He has starred in the popular crime drama "Jack Reed" TV movies. He also appeared as a recurring character in the NBC sitcom Just Shoot Me!


Dennehy was parodied in South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut and an episode of The Simpsons.

In January 2007, he starred in the episode "Scheherazade" of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit as a retired criminal who wants to reconnect with his daughter and admit his crimes before dying of a terminal disease thus eventually clearing a wrongfully imprisoned inmate. In April 2008, Dennehy guest-starred as a Teamster boss in an episode of "30 Rock".

Dennehy guest-starred in a 2008 episode of Rules of Engagement as the father of the main character, Jeff.

Dennehy has also narrated many television programs and recently narrated the IFTA nominated Canadian-Irish docudrama Death or Canada.

 Theater
Dennehy has won two Tony Awards, both times for Best Lead Actor in a Play. The first win was for Death of a Salesman (for which he also won a Laurence Olivier Award for the production's London run), in 1999, and the second was for Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey into Night in 2003. Both productions were directed by Robert Falls and were originally produced at the Goodman Theatre company in Chicago.

On stage, Dennehy has made frequent performances in the Chicago theater world, and made his Broadway debut in 1995 in Brian Friel's Translations. In 1999, he was the first male performer to be voted the Sarah Siddons Award for his work in Chicago theater. He made a return to Broadway in 2007 as Matthew Harrison Brady in Inherit the Wind opposite Christopher Plummer, then returned again opposite Carla Gugino in a 2009 revival of Eugene O'Neill's Desire Under the Elms.

In fall 1992, he played the lead role of Hickey in Robert Falls's production of Eugene O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin.

In 2008, Dennehy appeared at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, in Stratford, Ontario, Canada, appearing in All's Well That Ends Well as the King of France, and a double bill of plays, one by Samuel Beckett, "Krapp's Last Tape" and Eugene O'Neill's play "Hughie", where Dennehy reprised the role of Erie Smith.

In December 2010, he returned to Ireland to play the Bull McCabe in the Olympia Theater of Dublin's stage version of John B. Keane's The Field.

In 2011, Dennehy has returned to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in the role of Sir Toby Belch in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. He is also playing Max in Harold Pinter's The Homecoming, which is the first Pinter work to be produced there.

 personal life
He is the father of actresses Elizabeth Dennehy and Kathleen Dennehy. He resides in Woodstock, Connecticut. His son, Cormac Dennehy was graduated from Pomfret School in 2011, while his daughter, Sarah, attends Woodstock Academy. He gave a commencement address at Pomfret School on May 29, 2011, when Cormac graduated.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Brian Dennehy", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.