WCW: Eileen Brennan


If you grew up in the 1970s and 1980s, chances are you know exactly who Eileen Brennan was, as she was in so many iconic films and tv shows during this period. Originally a stage actress, Brennan transitioned to film in the late-1960s and proceeded to be cast in some real classics. Her IMDB lists over 130 films to her credit, but her period films are fairly small in number. That said, we’re still going to celebrate them!


Last Picture Show (1973)

Eileen Brennan in The Last Picture Show (1971)

Eileen Brennan plays Genevieve, a waitress at Sam’s cafe in Anarene, Texas. Set in 1951, this critically acclaimed coming-of-age film is directed and produced by Peter Bogdanovich.


The Sting (1973)

Eileen Brennan in The Sting (1973)

Eileen Brennan plays Billie, the right-hand woman to hustler Henry Gondorff (Paul Newman). She wears a number of really great outfits in this film.


Daisy Miller (1974)

I’m honestly kind of surprised this one has never come up on our list of old films to watch, because the costumes actually look really good, particularly for the 1970s.


At Long Last Love (1975)

Eileen Brennan in At Long Last Love (1975)

This looks like a cute flick! Eileen Brennan plays Elizabeth, the maid to a spoiled heiress (played by Cybill Shepherd) in this film directed by Peter Bogdanovich, set in 1935.


The Night That Panicked America (1975)

Eileen Brennan in The Night That Panicked America (1975)

I was only able to find really terrible screenshots of Eileen Brennan in this film dramatization of Orson Welles’ 1938 radio broadcast of War of the Worlds.


Black Beauty (1978)



The Cheap Detective (1978)

Eileen Brennan in The Cheap Detective (1978)

Eileen Brennan plays Betty DeBoop, one of several “femme fatales” in this parody of a 1930s detective flick, starring Peter Falk.


The Fourth Wise Man (1985)

Eileen Brennan in The Fourth Wise Man (1985)

Eileen Brennan plays Judith, in this adaptation of “The Other Wise Man,” by Henry van Dyke.


Clue (1985)

Eileen Brennan in Clue (1985)

Eileen Brennan plays Mrs. Peacock, the wife of a senator, who is up to her eyeballs in questionable dealings and shady activities.


The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking (1988)

I honestly can’t remember if this is supposed to be set in Ye Olden Days, or if it’s just one of those films that looks vaguely period when it really isn’t, but IT’S PIPPI LONGSTOCKING, Y’ALL. Literally one of my earliest girl-crush heroes, so OF COURSE I’m going to include it here. Eileen Brennan plays Miss Bannister, who runs the children’s home that Pippi goes to after being “abandoned” by her father.


What’s your favorite role played by Eileen Brennan? Tell us in the comments!


About the author

Sarah Lorraine

Sarah has an undergraduate degree in Clothing & Textile Design and a Master's in Art History and Visual Culture, with an emphasis on fashion history. When she’s not caught in paralyzing existential dread, she's drinking craft cocktails and writing about historical costume in film and television. She's been pissing people off on the internet since 1995.

12 Responses

  1. Boxermom

    Thanks so much for this, Sarah! I love her as Betty DeBoop. “I get off at 2:30. Don’t you think 2:30 is a good time to get off?” :)

  2. Brandy Loutherback

    At Long Last Love is a cute flick! Madeline Khan is at her most charming!

  3. Elizabeth

    Eileen Brennan was also in MURDER BY DEATH which is a spoof of golden age detectives. It also stars Maggie Smith, David Niven, James Coco, Truman Capote, Elsa Lanchester, Peter Sellars (doing yellowface as character based on Charlie Chan), and Alec Guiness.

    • Roxana

      And Alec Guinness having a whale of a time especially in the final scene. Actually they all seem to be thoroughly enjoying themselves.

  4. Saraquill

    I adored the Pippi Longstocking movie when I was 4-5. My husband meanwhile has seen Clue often enough to memorize the entire script.

  5. Rebeka Haak

    I love her, loved her in Pippi Longstocking as a kid and the crazy lady in 7th Heaven (tv series)

  6. GinaP

    Karina Longworth of You Must Remember This podcast said she loved At Long Last Love, even though most critics hated it. I was not impressed. Maybe because of how Peter Bogdanovich jilted Polly Platt for Cybil Shepherd.

  7. Lily Lotus Rose

    MRS PEACOCK, of course!!! Clue is one of the funniest movies of all time!! That said, I was actually given a copy of The Fourth Wise Man last year and haven’t yet watched it. Now I must, knowing that she’s in it! Great WCW choice!

  8. Constance

    Daisy Miller is okay but I get mad that she has to die, basically for being a flirt, or so it seemed. Very Victorian.
    Barry Brown, who played the Fredrick Winterbourne role, killed himself five years after this was made. A sister of his did as well. Very sad.

  9. Martina

    Her most memorable role for me is Tess Skeffington in “Murder by Death”

  10. Anna

    Hi, I am another person who’s core identity might be based on this Pippi Longstocking movie. I think it is supposed to be period, though maybe not a specific year. Most of the cars seen in it are 1946-1950, plus there’s a few older ones here and there.

    I actually really like when films that COULD be done as contemporary (like the time period is immaterial to the plot) have a non-showy period setting from the last 90-or-so years (or a setting and props intentionally designed to make it hard to guess the setting by omitting things that are very “now”). I think it makes a film/show not only age better, but provides opportunities to reference/draw ties to/invite comparison with other works that came before, and of course it makes it instantly feel more classic or nostalgic. Various eras could conceivably work for the same story but contextualize it or push it in different ways, so it’s a cool way to serve the story visually and brings one more layer to the deeper themes of the work. Don’t know if Pippi ‘88 is an excellent example or not (I’m biased) but I only realized it had a period setting at all as an adult, and it kind of made me think about the film more during that rewatch!


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