The Untold Truth Of Brian Dennehy

Brian Dennehy, the beloved film and theater actor, died on April 15, 2020, in New Haven, Connecticut, his talent agency confirmed to CNN. The Silverado star's cause of death was announced by his agent, Brian Mann, who said he died of "cardiac arrest due to sepsis." Dennehy was 81.

Dennehy's daughter, fellow actor Elizabeth Dennehy, shared the news on Twitter, reiterating that he did not die from the coronavirus. "It is with heavy hearts we announce that our father, Brian, passed away last night from natural causes, not COVID-related," the Star Trek alum penned. "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."

Actress Mia Farrow also jumped on Twitter to eulogize Dennehy, saying, "Just devastated to learn that the magnificent Brian Dennehy has died. [There] is no one I enjoyed working with more. And there are few friends as valued in my life." Mia Farrow shared a photo of Dennehy holding her dog, Bowie, and it's the sweetest thing.

So as the world grieves this tremendous actor, let's revisit how he rose to fame.

Brian Dennehy doubted himself early on

Brian Dennehy grew up "largely" in New York and was raised Catholic, per The New York Times. Although Dennehy lost his faith as an adult, he grew to miss the "sense of order" that came with religion, which prompted him to fill the void with something else. ”I'm one of the lucky ones," he told the NYT. "I have a replacement, and that's art."

Speaking of art, Dennehy's reverence for the subject is why he sought out the theater, and the Chicago Tribune referred to  Dennehy was "the nation's leading interpreter of the tragedies of Eugene O'Neill," a famous playwright who penned  Long Day's Journey into Night and The Iceman Cometh, to name a few works.

But before the actor earned this incredible compliment, he was just a boy questioning his future. ”To be an Irish Catholic kid in Queens in the 1940s meant acting wasn't a possibility," he explained to the NYT.

Brian Dennehy worked odd jobs before making it big

Brian Dennehy's father was a writer and editor for the Associated Press, so when Dennehy got into Columbia University in New York City, his father assumed it would be to continue his own legacy, according to Columbia College Today. However, after academic struggles, Dennehy left after junior year to join the marines. During this time, he met his first wife, Judith Lee Scheff, and had three children. 

The Connecticut native eventually returned to Columbia to graduate in 1965, but despite graduating from a prestigious school, Dennehy worked odd jobs after graduation, like cab driving and bartending, to support his family, per Columbia College Today.

Dennehy finally landed a job as a stockbroker with Merrill Lynch but, it wasn't a fit. "I was sitting in the bullpen at Merrill Lynch down at Liberty Plaza and 30 guys got off the elevator with their attaché cases and headed for their desks," the Tommy Boy star told Columbia College Today about the job. "I thought to myself, 'I've got to get out of here.'" It was during this career angst that Dennehy decided since "he was never going to be a success at anything," he might as well get serious about acting, according to The New York Times.

Amid this change, Dennehy separated from Scheff in 1974. Dennehy remarried Jennifer Arnott in 1988, and together they had two more children. In total, Dennehy has five children: Elizabeth, Cormac, Kathleen, Deirdre, and Sarah. 

Brian Dennehy achieves success at last

After college, marriage, and fatherhood, Brian Dennehy finally broke into acting at 37, according to Columbia College Today. Dennehy was an imposing force, standing at 6'3" and weighing over 250 pounds, and he often worried about being too large for the stage, per the outlet.

Despite his own worries, Dennehy was a success, starring in many classic films, like Tommy Boy, Presumed Innocent, and The Belly of an Architect. He also took TV gigs, but he did these to pay his bills, as The Chicago Tribune noted.

However, Dennehy's greatest triumphs were on the theater stage, appearing in the plays of Eugene O'Neill (Desire Under the Elms, The Iceman ComethA Touch of the Poet) and Arthur Miller (Death of a Salesman). Dennehy was cast as Miller's Willy Loman in 1988, moving countless audiences with his performance for which he earned a Tony. 

It's hard summing up an actor so talented as Dennehy, so we'll end by giving our condolences to his loved ones. And of course, we remember all of the other celebrities we've lost in 2020.