Brian Dennehy in 2009.
By Irish Echo Staff
The award winning Irish American actor, Brian Dennehy, has died at the age of 81.
His death was not due to Covid-19.
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As a report in the New York Daily News put it: “Brian Dennehy played an ordinary man extraordinarily well.”
The report added that the “burly everyman” had starred in films such as “Cocoon,” and Tommy Boy” and had won a pair of Tony Awards for his theater work.
“It is with heavy hearts we announce that our father, Brian passed away last night from natural causes, not Covid-related,” actress Elizabeth Dennehy wrote Thursday.
“Larger than life, generous to a fault, a proud and devoted father and grandfather, he will be missed by his wife Jennifer, family and many friends.”
But his special relationship to the plays of another Nobel Prize-winner will inevitably be invoked when he’s honored in New York City on Oct. 18 by the Irish-American Writers & Artists.
For Dennehy will on that night become the second recipient of the organization’s Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award.
The Bridgeport, Conn.-born actor has over the past decade starred in major productions of O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey in Night,” “Desire Under the Elms” and “Hughie.”
“Few actors have had the kind of career Brian Dennehy has had,” said IAW&A co-founder T.J. English when announcing the award.
“For over 30 years, in movies, on television and on stage, he has come to embody an iconic image of a certain type of working-class American — the cop, the priest, the fireman, the soldier. Dennehy has brought nobility and passion to these roles and established himself as the dean of American actors.”
Dennehy was presented with the award at a reception and ceremony at Rosie O’Grady’s, just blocks from where Eugene O’Neill began life in a hotel on Oct. 16, 1888.
The inaugural winner, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist William Kennedy, was honored at the same venue last year.