Who Is Eileen Ryan? Here’s What To Know About Sean Penn’s Mom Who Died – Hollywood Life

Sean Penn’s Mom Eileen Ryan Dead At 94: 5 Things To Know About ‘Little House On The Prairie’ Star

Sean Penn's mom Eileen Ryan was an iconic stage and screen actress. Here's what you need to know about the woman frequently seen on 'Little House On The Prairie' and many other shows.

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  • Eileen Ryan was an accomplished actress of both stage and television.
  • She was the mother of Oscar winner Sean Penn.
  • Eileen passed away on Sunday, October 9, 2022, at the age of 94.

It’s the end of an era for Sean Penn, 62, after his mother, actress Eileen Ryan, died on October 9 in Malibu. The beautiful actress was often seen on red carpets with her son over the years and was known to step out with some of the most famous actors in Hollywood. In fact, she once insisted that he take her to the Academy Awards. “Before I was nominated, my mother called me up and said, ‘Captain Kangaroo died today. He was 76. I’m 77. You’re taking me to the Oscars ball this year.'” he said in a 2005 interview in O magazine.  “I said, ‘Mom, I’m not even nominated.’ She said, ‘Don’t be silly!'”

But her famous son was nominated for Mystic River in 2004, and he took home the award that evening — while his mother joyously cheered him on. Here’s everything you need to know about Sean Penn’s accomplished and beloved mother.

She was an iconic and recognizable actress.

Eileen Ryan
Eileen Ryan is seen in a still from 2002 camp horror film ‘Eight Legged Freaks.’ (Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection)

Eileen may be known for supporting her famous son, but she had a remarkable career of her own long before Sean entered the world in 1960. Born in New York in 1927, she appeared on the silver screen alongside Steve Martin in Parenthood, David Arquette in Eight Legged Freaks, and Julianne Moore and Johnny Depp in Benny & Joon. She notably appeared in I Am Sam with her son, and worked into her late 80s — Eileen’s last film was Rules Don’t Apply in 2016.

Her list of television credits is even more extensive. She was seen on episodes of The Twilight Zone, Bonanza, Little House on the Prairie, Matlock, ER, NYPD Blue, Ally McBeal, Without a Trace, Grey’s Anatomy, and many more. On Broadway, she made a name for herself as a theater actress. Eileen was known for playing Evie in Sing Till Tomorrow and Lorraine in Comes a Day, both in the 1950s.

Eileen was a mother to three boys.

Sean wasn’t Eileen’s only child. She had three boys, two of whom are actors. Sean was born in 1960, while his brother Chris Penn was born in 1965 and his oldest brother Michael, a musician, was born in 1958. She was married to their father, director Leo Penn, from 1957 until his death in 1998. Sadly, she also lost her son Chris to cardiomyopathy in 2006. He was just 40 years old.

She was Madonna’s mother-in-law.

Sean and Eileen at the 2004 Oscar nominees luncheon in Los Angeles on Feb 09, 2004. (Jim Smeal/BEI/Shutterstock)

Eileen also played the role of mother-in-law to two very famous women. When Sean married Madonna in August of 1985, Eileen was thrust into the role of close family member to a major pop star. But the marriage didn’t last long, and they’d already parted ways by January of 1989. She then became the mother-in-law of Robin Wright when she married Sean in 1996. That marriage was more productive, as the actors were married for 11 years until 2007.

Eileen was a grandmother.

Eileen became a grandmother when Robin gave birth to Sean’s two children. Dylan (now 31) was born in 1991, before the couple married, and Hopper, (now 29) who they welcomed in 1993. Dylan and Hopper followed in their grandmother’s footsteps, as Dylan is now an actress and model, and Hopper is an actor and producer.

She was nearing her 95th birthday.

Eileen lived a long life and was reportedly nearing her 95th birthday at the time of her death, which would have been on October 16 — one week after her death. Her eldest son, Michael, published the news to Twitter. “We lost mom yesterday,” he captioned the heartbreaking post, alongside a stunning vintage profile shot of the legendary actress.