Brian Dennehy on winning Eugene O'Neill Lifetime Achievement Award

Brian Dennehy

Irish American acting legend Brian Dennehy, 72, will be awarded the Eugene O'Neill Lifetime Achievement Award for 2010 by the Irish American Writers and Artists group at a ceremony in Rosie O'Grady's in Times Square on October 18, just two blocks from where O'Neill was born.

Dennehy, who has been nominated six times for Emmys, won a Golden Globe in 2000 for his performance in "Death of a Salesman," and earned a Tony Award in 2003 for his performance in Eugene O'Neill's "Long Day's Journey into Night."

"Getting this award is nice," Dennehy told the press this week. "But double-edged. Nice to be recognized for your work, but they always give you these things when you're too old to do any more damage."

Dennehy attended Columbia University, where he discovered his love for the theater, but he soon returned to Brooklyn to drive a meat truck out of the Fort Greene Meat Market.

The good money and the four day week work load allowed him to pursue his real goal, an acting career.

"My hero was Jason Robards. One day, in 1974, I finished my meat route and drove straight to the Billy Rose Theater, in my filthy, bloody butcher's clothes and paid four bucks to see Robards in a Wednesday matinee performance of 'Moon for the Misbegotten.' And here I was, a big hulking guy covered in bloodstains sitting alone amid the well-dressed theater ladies, crying my eyes out listening to Robards giving that great speech from "Moon ... ."

"No one would ever cast me as an aristocrat," Dennehy added. "I think the big thing about being an Irish artist is access to melancholy. Especially the American Irish. The availability of loss, some kind of pain, is an important part of who we are. I think my Irishness gave me that."

COMMENTS