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Brian Dennehy | 1938 - 2020

Staff Announcement by The Stratford Festival, April 16, 2020.

Shakespeare spoke truth when he had Claudius say, "When sorrows come, they come not single spies / But in battalions." Once again, we have been shattered by news of a passing: this time that of beloved two-time Tony Award winner and screen star Brian Dennehy.

A mountain of a man whose talent, intelligence and love for the theatre dwarfed Everest, Brian found a second home here at the Stratford Festival, where for three seasons he graced our stages with his commanding presence and magnanimous spirit in work that ranged from Shakespeare to Schiller, from Beckett to Pinter.

He first joined us in 2008 to star in our double bill of Krapp's Last Tape and Hughie, and to play the King of France in All's Well That Ends Well. He returned in 2011 as Max in The Homecoming and Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night, and in 2013 as the Earl of Shrewsbury in Mary Stuart and Pozzo in Waiting for Godot.

Our company adored him, and he adored us back. In an interview with CTV News during his second season here, he called ours "the best theatre company in the world," adding: "I don't think there's any question about that, and I've worked everywhere. I'm glad to slip in the back door and try to stumble around just so I can see these people. I'm not just saying it. It's the way I feel about it."

While he became famous on film – where his credits included memorable roles in First Blood, Gorky Park, Cocoon, Presumed Innocent and Tommy Boy – Brian's heart was on the stage. His mind loved to take apart a great text and make it his own. He was bashful about his big physicality, but he was the friendliest giant you could ever meet.

All of us at the Festival are crushed by this news because we've lost a fellow player who searched us out and made our home a better place.

We dedicate this season's production of The Miser to a man of immense generosity who leaves us far more than we can ever thank him for.

Antoni & Anita

As posted on, April 16, 2020.

Brian Dennehy (1938–2020), "Tommy Boy" and "Ratatouille" star

By Kirk Fox

Brian Dennehy was the beloved character actor who starred in "Tommy Boy," "Ratatouille," and "Silverado."

A versatile character actor, Dennehy played Chris Farley’s father in the popular comedy "Tommy Boy," voiced Django, the father of Remy in "Ratatouille," and played a sheriff who pursues Sylvester Stallone’s Rambo in "First Blood." An imposing figure, Dennehy was a college football player and a former Marine but he was often a lovable character on screen. He won two Tony awards for his stage work and had recurring roles on the TV series "Dynasty" and "The Blacklist."

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