Brian Dennehy: 5 Things To Know On Beloved ‘Tommy Boy’ Actor Who’s Passed At 81

You likely know him best as Chris Farley's father in 'Tommy Boy', but Brian Dennehy was a celebrated actor for decades, both on-screen and stage. Sadly, he passed away at 81, according to his family.

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Hollywood has lost one of it’s brightest stars as legendary actor, Brian Dennehy, passed away on April 15. The star, whose credits included everything from stage to TV to film, passed away from natural causes at his home in Connecticut, according to reports from TMZ.  His family added in an official statement, “We are saddened to report that legendary stage, film and television actor Brian Dennehy passed away last night in New Haven, Connecticut at the age of 81, with his wife Jennifer and son Cormac by his side. ”

While his career has spanned for 5 decades, younger audiences would recognize him best for his roles on the hit TV show Blacklist and the film, Tommy Boy, when he played Big Tom Callahan alongside Chris Farley. “It is with heavy hearts we announce that our father, Brian passed away last night from natural causes, not Covid-related. 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,” his daughter Elizabeth Dennehy tweeted on Thursday April 16, once the news had officially broken.

As his family, fans, and the entertainment world deal with the loss of such a legend, here are a few facts you may not know about the Hollywood heavyweight, from the start of his career, to now.

1. Brian Won Two Tonys For His Incomparable Work on Stage:  While known around the world for his work on-screen, he was also a powerhouse on stage. Brian won his first Tony for his performance as Willy Loman in a revival of Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” in 1999 and then his second Tony for his turn as James Tyrone in a revival of Eugene O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” in 2003.

2.  He Was A Staple In TV Dramas: With a career spanning 5 decades, Brian did a fair amount of TV work. While he starred in many TV movies, he also was a guest performer on a wide variety of programs. In the 70s, he had stints on Kojak and MASH. In the 80’s, Miami Vice. Most recently, he played Dominic Wilksino on a 7 episode arc on NBC’s Blacklist. 

3. He’s Starred Alongside Nearly Every A-List Actor On Film: Harrison Ford, Carol Burnett, Sylvester Stallone, Robert Duvall, and Leonardo DiCaprio are just some of the few to have been lucky enough to call him a co-star. 

4. He Was A Devoted Father & Husband:  Brian was married twice, the first time to Judith Scheff and then his second wife, Jennifer Arnott, a costume designer, whom he married in 1988. He had three daughters with Judith: actresses Elizabeth Dennehy and Kathleen Dennehy and Deirdre. He then had son Cormac and daughter Sarah with Jennifer.

5. Brian Passed Just Weeks After The 25th anniversary Of Tommy Boy: A beloved movie by millennials, Brian played father to Chris Farley’s iconic titular character, alongside other acting heavyweights Bo Derek, Dan Aykroyd, and Rob Lowe.

Our thoughts go out to Brian’s friends and family. He will be missed.