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'Private Benjamin' actress Eileen Brennan dies at 80

BY DERRIK J. LANG, AP ENTERTAINMENT WRITER

LOS ANGELES -- Eileen Brennan, who played the drill sergeant in "Private Benjamin," has died at 80.

Brennan's manager Kim Vasilakis says Brennan died Sunday in a Burbank after a battle with bladder cancer.

Brennan got her first big role on the New York stage in the musical comedy "Little Mary Sunshine." It won her the 1960 Obie award for best actress. She played Irene Malloy in the original 1964 Broadway production of "Hello Dolly!" and co-starred in the 1971 film, "The Last Picture Show."

She went on to win fans for her sharp-tongued roles on television and in movies, including gruff Army Capt. Doreen Lewis in 1980's "Private Benjamin," aloof Mrs. Peacock in 1985's "Clue," and mean orphanage superintendent Miss Bannister in 1988's "The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking."

"Private Benjamin" brought her a supporting actress nomination for an Oscar. She won an Emmy for repeating her "Private Benjamin" role in the TV version.

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