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SYFY WIRE obituary

Brian Dennehy, actor whose performances spanned Ratatouille to Cocoon, dead at 81

By Jacob Oller
Brian Dennehy Getty

Brian Dennehy, the Golden Globe and Tony-winning actor whose extensive TV work earned him multiple Emmy nominations, has died at 81. His death was not due to the coronavirus, but from natural causes.

While Dennehy played plenty of straight drama roles and action-oriented characters aside Sylvester Stallone, he also gave such memorable genre performances as the alien leader Walter in Cocoon and Cocoon: The Return as well as Ratatouille's Django, father of Remy and leader of the rats. His gruff yet warm countenance led him to many complex tough-guy roles, becoming so memorable that he even made his way into the world of comics. He reportedly served as inspiration for Brian Michael Bendis' version of Spider-Man baddie Norman Osborn, as drawn by Mark Bagley:

Norman Osborn in Marvel Ultimate

Dennehy was also prolific on the small screen, where many of his nearly 200 credits were played. Detectives, dads, and killers were his bread and butter, but sometimes he'd score a more outlandish role, like Masters of Science Fiction's Bedzyk.

The announcement of his death comes from his daughter, Elizabeth:

"It is with heavy hearts we announce that our father, Brian passed away last night from natural causes, not Covid-related," Dennehy wrote. "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."

Dennehy's final performance looks to be in the upcoming film Son of the South.

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