Eileen Benjamin, who famously starred as drill captain Doreen Lewis in 1980's Private Benjamin, has passed away at her Burbank, California home following a long battle with bladder cancer. CNN confirmed on Tuesday (30 July) that the actress, real name Verla Eileen Regina Brennan, had died with a representative from her management company revealing that the actress passed away in her home on Sunday (28 July).

Eileen Brennan Private Benjamin
Brennan when she appeared in Private Benjamin

"Our family is so grateful for the outpouring of love and respect for Eileen," a statement released by her family earlier today read, adding that she will be long remembered for her warm personality and loving demeanour. "She was funny and caring and truly one of a kind. Her strength and love will never be forgotten. She will be greatly missed by all of us."

She got her big break in the 70's, starring as a waitress in 1971's The Last Picture Show, with a follow-up role alongside Paul Newman in The Sting bringing her to even further recognition in 1973. When she played a sassy maid in 1975's At Long Last Love, she found her niche and continued to play hard-surfaced characters with a soft inner-core. Her performance in Private Benjamin was her biggest to date, earning her an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress in 1980.

Eileen Brennan
Brennan in the 1960's

After her Oscar-worthy performance in the Goldie Hawn-starring film, it seemed her career was only heading up, however she was struck with tragedy in 1982, when she was involved in a horrific car accident outside a restaurant she was eating at with Hawn. She suffered from serious injuries, including broken bones in her face, the loss of an eyeball and two broken legs. Even after her recovery, which took years, she had developed a serious addiction to painkillers, and had to enter the Betty Ford clinic in 1984. She also survived a battle with breast cancer in 1990.

Brennan was married to David John Lampson between 1968 and 1974. She is survived by her two sons, Patrick Brennan and Sam Lampson. Our thoughts are with her family and friends.