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Brian Mannion Dennehy (born July 9, 1938) is an American actor of film, stage and screen.

Early years

Dennehy was born in Bridgeport, Connecticutmarker, the son of Hannah and Edward Dennehy, who was a wire service doctor for the Associated Press; he has two brothers, Michael and Edward. The family relocated to Long Island, New Yorkmarker, where Dennehy attended Chaminade High Schoolmarker in the town of Mineolamarker.

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." However, in 2007, he once again told a reporter tales of his service in the Vietnam War, this time to Glenna Whitley 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 Yalemarker to study dramatic arts. He played rugby for Old Blue RFC. He currently resides in Woodstock, CT.



Dennehy is primarily known as a dramatic actor. His breakthrough role was as the overzealous Sheriff Will Teasle in First Blood (1982) opposite Sylvester Stallone as Rambo.

His earlier films did include several comedies like Semi-Tough with Burt Reynolds (in which he portrayed a pro football player), 10 with Dudley Moore (as an Acapulcomarker bartender) 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 Legal Eagles (1986), F/X - Murder By Illusion (1986), Presumed Innocent (1990) and F/X2 - The Deadly Art Of Illusion (1991).

Dennehy gradually became a valuable character actor but also achieved leading-man status in the thriller Best Seller (1987) 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 recent 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.

Dennehy is currently filming Alleged, which is based on the Scopes Monkey Trial, the famous court battle over evolution. [90113]


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 (1980) opposite Brad Davis. He continued to appear in such high-profile television movies as Skokie (1981), Day One (1989), A Killing in a Small Town (1990) opposite Barbara Hershey, In Broad Daylight (1991), 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 cancelled after two seasons.

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 (1992).

He was also nominated for an Emmy for his work in A Killing in a Small Town, Murder in the Heartland (1993) and, most recently, for the Showtime cable TV movie Our Fathers (2005), 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 has yet to win an Emmy), 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 (1999) 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 is currently shooting footage for his upcoming mini-series on the History Channel called "Brian Dennehy's America." The show follows Dennehy as he explores the states, from his boyhood home in New England all the way to the Pacific Northwest, interviewing the locals about why they love their state.

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

Brian once played an extra in the video for "The king of rock 'n' roll" by Prefab Sprout.

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


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 Theatremarker company in Chicagomarker.

On stage, Dennehy has made frequent performances in the Chicago theatre world, and made his Broadwaymarker 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 theatre. He made a return to Broadwaymarker in 2007 as Matthew Harrison Brady in Inherit the Wind opposite Christopher Plummer.

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

In 2008, Dennehy appeared at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Canada, appearing in All's Well That Ends Well and a double bill of plays by Samuel Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape and Eugene O'Neill's Hughie.

Personal life

He is the father of actresses Elizabeth Dennehy and Kathleen Dennehy. He resides in Woodstock, Connecticut. His son, Cormac Dennehy, currently attends Pomfret School. His son, Cormac, is known as "the boss", for his interactions with Petra Ross.



  • Jackaboy Blue (1994) - Guggles McMillian
  • Factory 9 (2009)


  • It Happened at Lakewood Manor (1977 TV movie) - Fire Chief
  • Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye (1977 TV movie) - Longshoreman
  • Pearl (1978 mini-series) - Sgt. Otto Chain
  • A Real American Hero (1978 TV movie) - Buford Pusser
  • A Death in Canaan (1978 TV movie) - Barney Parsons
  • Ruby and Oswald (1978 TV movie) - George Paulsen
  • Dummy (1979 TV movie) - Ragoti
  • Big Shamus, Little Shamus (1979) - Arnie Sutter
  • The Jericho Mile (1979 TV movie) - Dr. D
  • Silent Victory: The Kitty O'Neil Story (1979 TV movie) - Mr. O'Neil
  • A Rumor of War (1980 TV movie) - Sgt. Ned Coleman
  • The Seduction of Miss Leona (1980 TV movie) - Bliss Dawson
  • Dynasty (1981) - DA Jake Dunham
  • Skokie (1981 TV movie) - Chief Arthur Buchanan
  • Fly Away Home (1981 TV movie) - Tim Arnold
  • I Take These Men (1983 TV movie) - Phil Zakarian
  • Blood Feud (1983 mini-series) - Edward Grady Partin
  • Off Sides (1984 TV movie) - Sgt. Cheever
  • Evergreen (1985) - Matthew Malone
  • The Last Place on Earth (1985) - Frederick Cook
  • Acceptable Risks (1986 TV movie) - Don Sheppard
  • The Lion of Africa (1987 TV movie) - Sam Marsh
  • A Father's Revenge (1988 TV movie) - Paul Hobart
  • Perfect Witness (1989 TV movie) - James Falcon
  • A Killing in a Small Town (1990 TV movie) - Ed Reivers
  • Rising Son (1990 TV movie) - Gus Robinson
  • Pride and Extreme Prejudice (1990 TV movie) - Bruno Morenz
  • In Broad Daylight (1991 TV movie) - Len Rowan
  • The Diamond Fleece (1992 TV movie) - Lt. Merritt Outlaw
  • Teamster Boss: The Jackie Presser Story (1992 TV movie) - Jackie Presser
  • To Catch a Killer (1992) - John Wayne Gacy
  • The Burden of Proof (1992 TV movie) - Dixon Hartnell
  • Deadly Matrimony (1992 TV movie) - Sgt. Jack Reed
  • Foreign Affairs (1993 TV movie) - Chuck Mumpson
  • Prophet of Evil: The Ervin LaBaron Story (1993 TV movie) - Ervil LaBaron
  • Final Appeal (1993 TV movie) - Perry Sundquist

  • Jack Reed: Badge of Honor (1993 TV movie) - Jack Reed
  • Murder in the Heartland (1993) - John McArthur
  • Birdland (1994) - Dr. Brian McKenzie
  • Leave of Absence (1994 TV movie) - Sam
  • Midnight Movie (1994 TV movie) - James Boyce
  • Jack Reed: A Search for Justice (1994 TV movie) - Jack Reed
  • Jack Reed: One of Our Own (1995 TV movie) - Jack Reed
  • Shadow of A Doubt (1995 TV movie) - Charlie Sloan
  • Jack Reed: A Killer Among Us (1996 TV movie) - Jack Reed
  • Jack Reed: Death and Vengeance (1996 TV movie) - Jack Reed
  • A Season in Purgatory (1996) - Gerald Bradley
  • Dead Man's Walk (1996 mini-series) - Maj. Chavallie
  • Undue Influence (1996 mini-series) - Paul Madriani
  • Nostromo (mini-series) (1997) - Joshua C. Holyrod
  • Indefensible: The Truth about Edward Brannigan (1997 TV movie) - Eddie Brannigan
  • Voyage of Terror (1998 TV movie) - U.S. President
  • Thanks of a Grateful Nation (1998 TV movie) - Senator Riegle
  • Netforce (1999 TV movie) - Lowell Davidson
  • Sirens (1999 TV movie) - Lt. Denby
  • Too Rich: The Secret Life of Doris Duke (1999 mini-series) - Louis Bromfield
  • Fail Safe (2000 TV movie) - Gen. Bogan
  • Arrest & Trial (2000) - Host
  • Warden of Red Rock (2001 TV movie) - Sheriff Church
  • Three Blind Mice (2001 TV movie) - Mathew Hope
  • Death of a Salesman (2001) - Fitzgerald
  • A Season on the Brink (2002 TV movie) - Bobby Knight
  • The Crooked E: The Unshredded Truth About Enron (2003 TV movie) - Mr. Blue
  • The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (2003 TV movie) - Tom Stone
  • Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of "Three's Company" (2003 TV movie) - Fred Silverman
  • Category 6: Day of Destruction (2004 TV movie) - Andy Goodman
  • The Exonerated (2005 TV movie) - Gary Gauger
  • The West Wing (2005) - Sen. Rafe Framingham (R-FL)
  • Our Fathers (2005 TV movie) - Father Dominic Spagnolia
  • Marco Polo - Kublai Khan
  • Rules of Engagement - Roy
  • Death or Canada (docu-drama) (2009) - Narrator (Himself)


  1. Dallas Observer, April 12, 2007: Don't Tell Glenna Whitley You're a Vet if You Ain't. Because She Knows. We're Lookin' at You, Brian Dennehy

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