- Share this article on Facebook
- Share this article on Twitter
- Share this article on Email
- Show additional share options
- Share this article on Print
- Share this article on Comment
- Share this article on Whatsapp
- Share this article on Linkedin
- Share this article on Reddit
- Share this article on Pinit
- Share this article on Tumblr
Eileen Ryan, an actress who appeared on Broadway and in films and TV shows in collaborations with her late husband, actor-director Leo Penn, and her two-time Oscar-winning son, Sean Penn, died Sunday at her home in Malibu, a publicist announced. She was 94.
Survivors also include another son, composer-songwriter Michael Penn. Her youngest boy, actor Chris Penn, died in 2006.
Ryan gave up her acting career — once turning down the lead in a John Frankenheimer-directed film — to become a full-time mother. However, she returned to take small parts in such projects as At Close Range (1986), where she played the grandmother of characters portrayed by Sean and Christopher.
One of three sisters, Eileen Annucci was born in New York on Oct. 16, 1927. She made her Broadway debut in 1953 in Sing Till Tomorrow, then worked alongside Judith Anderson, George C. Scott and Larry Hagman in 1958 in Comes a Day.
In 1960, Ryan starred as the hostile wife of a confused Hollywood actor (Howard Duff) on the excellent first-season Twilight Zone episode “A World of Difference” and went on to appear on installments of many other shows, including The Detectives, Ben Casey and Bonanza, where Leo directed her in 1972.
He also guided her on episodes of Cannon, Little House on the Prairie, Marcus Welby, M.D. and Matlock and in the 1988 movie Judgment in Berlin.
Ryan showed up in several films starring Sean, including The Indian Runner (1991), The Crossing Guard (1995), I Am Sam (2001), The Pledge (2001), The Assassination of Richard Nixon (2004) and All the King’s Men (2006).
She first met the recently divorced Leo in 1957 during rehearsals for a Circle in the Square production of The Iceman Cometh in New York after he had taken over a part meant for Jason Robards. They moved in together within a week of meeting, married a few months later and were a couple until he died in September 1998 at age 77.
Michael was born in 1958, followed by Sean in 1960 and Chris in 1965. Chris died at age 40 in January 2006 of heart disease.
Her last onscreen credit came in Warren Beatty’s Rules Don’t Apply (2016). She would have turned 95 on Sunday.
Sign up for THR news straight to your inbox every day