Actress Eileen Brennan, best known for her Oscar-nominated role as Goldie Hawn’s tormentor in 1980 army comedy Private Benjamin, has died aged 80.
Eileen Brennan’s managers said she died on Sunday at her home in Burbank, Los Angeles after suffering from bladder cancer.
Eileen Brennan, who also appeared in The Last Picture Show and Clue, was known for her husky voice and spiky demeanor.
“Our world has lost a rare human,” said Goldie Hawn in a statement in which she paid tribute to her “old friend”.
“Eileen was a brilliant comedian, a powerful dramatic actress and had the voice of an angel.”
Eileen Brennan earned a best supporting actress Oscar nomination for her role as US Army Captain Doreen Lewis in Private Benjamin.
She reprised the role in an adapted TV series from 1981 to 1983, winning an Emmy and a Golden Globe in the process.
Born Verla Eileen Regina Brennan in September 1932, the actress began her career on the New York stage before heading to Hollywood in the late 1960s.
After appearing alongside Goldie Hawn in the first series of Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, she was singled out for praise and a BAFTA nomination, for her role as careworn waitress Genevieve in The Last Picture Show.
Eileen Brennan continued her association with its director, Peter Bogdanovich, by appearing in his films Daisy Miller and At Long Last Love.
She was also seen in comic roles in Murder By Death and The Cheap Detective, appearing in both alongside the late Peter Falk.
Eileen Brennan was seriously injured in 1982 when she was hit by a car after a dinner with Goldie Hawn in Los Angeles.
The actress became dependent on painkillers as a result and later entered the Betty Ford clinic to cure her addiction.
She returned to the screen in 1985’s Clue, a murder spoof inspired by a board game.
In later life Eileen Brennan gave supporting turns in such films as Jeepers Creepers, Miss Congeniality 2 and TV’s Will and Grace.
“I love meanies… because they have no sense of humor,” Eileen Brennan told the Associated Press in 1988.
“If we can’t laugh at ourselves and the human condition, we’re going to be mean.”
Eileen Brennan is survived by her ex-husband, David John Lampson, and their two sons, Patrick and Sam.
In a statement, Eileen Brennan’s family remembered her as “funny and caring and truly one of a kind”.