rish American Writers & Artists, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to the celebration of Irish American achievement in the arts, announced today that the recipient of the prestigious Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award for 2010 is veteran film, stage and screen actor Brian Dennehy.
“Few actors have had the kind of career Brian Dennehy has had,” said IAW&A co-founder T.J. English in announcing the award. “For over thirty years, in movies, on television and on stage, he has come to embody an iconic image of a certain type of working-class American. The cop, the priest, the fireman, the soldier – Dennehy has brought nobility and passion to these roles and established himself as the dean of American actors.”
In recent years, Dennehy has added luster to an already celebrated career that includes six Emmy Award nominations by taking on the works of Eugene O’Neill. He won a Tony Award as Best Actor in 2003 for his performance in Long Days Journey into Night and has also appeared on Broadway in Desire Under the Elms and Hughie, and at the Abbey Theater in Dublin in The Iceman Cometh.
Upon being informed of his winning the award, Dennehy said, “It’s great to be honored as an actor, but it is especially gratifying to be honored as an actor in the O’Neill tradition.”
Of his special relationship with O’Neill’s work, Dennehy has said: “I think that my being Irish American, the grandson of a factory worker in Bridgeport, CT, and my having been raised in a real Irish American climate in Brooklyn and Long Island and New York in the 1940s and ‘50s goes a long way towards explaining it.”
Dennehy won a Tony Award and Golden Globe in 1999 for his performance as Willy Loman in Arthur Miller’s classic Death of a Salesman. He has appeared in over one hundred feature films, dozens of dramatic TV series and many made-for-TV movies. His varied roles have included numerous true-life characters, including Clarence Darrow, Teamster boss Jackie Presser, basketball coach Bobby Knight and serial killer John Wayne Gacy, to name a few.
The Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award was established in 2009 as a way to honor the accomplishments of a writer, actor, musician or other artist whose body of work best exemplifies the level of integrity established by O’Neill. The inaugural winner of the award was Pulitzer-prize winning author William Kennedy.
“We’re honoring an actor this year,” noted actor, writer and IAW&A co-director Malachy McCourt, “to highlight the remarkable diversity of the Irish American artistic community. In the years ahead we will honor writers, musicians, dancers, actors, and any other individual artist whose lifetime of accomplishment merits special attention.”
The award will be presented Monday, October 18, 2010 at a reception and ceremony to be held in New York City at Rosie O’Grady’s in Times Square, just two blocks from where Eugene O’Neill was born.