‘Private Benjamin’ actress Eileen Brennan dies

Actress dies at home in California after battle with bladder cancer

Eileen Brennan was best-known for her role as an army captain in Private Benjamin, for which she was nominated for an Oscar as best-supporting actress. Photograph: AP Photo/Doug Pizac

Eileen Brennan was best-known for her role as an army captain in Private Benjamin, for which she was nominated for an Oscar as best-supporting actress. Photograph: AP Photo/Doug Pizac

Thu, Aug 1, 2013, 01:00

American actress Eileen Brennan has died at the age of 80.

She died at home in Burbank, California, after a battle with bladder cancer, her managers said.

Brennan was best-known for her role as an army captain in Private Benjamin, for which she was nominated for an Oscar as best-supporting actress.

“Our world has lost a rare human,” her Private Benjamin co-star and close friend Goldie Hawn said in a statement. “Eileen was a brilliant comedian, a powerful dramatic actress and had the voice of an angel. I will miss my old friend.”

Brennan achieved her first major role on the New York stage in Little Mary Sunshine, a musical comedy that won her the 1960 Obie award for best actress, as well as the attention of director Peter Bogdanovich, who cast her as a weary waitress who inherits the cafe where she works in 1971’s The Last Picture Show.

She also won an Emmy for reprising her Private Benjamin role in the television version and was nominated six other times for guest roles on such shows as Newhart, thirtysomething, Taxi and Will & Grace, in which she played an over-the-top acting coach.

She also appeared The Sting, The Cheap Detective, Divorce American Style and The Last Picture Show.