Brenda Benet was an American TV and film actor, best known for her performances in the soap operas ‘The Young Marrieds’ and ‘Days of Our Lives.’ She bagged her first acting role in 1964, in the ‘ABC’ sitcom ‘Wendy and Me.’ With time, she became a highly successful actor and made several TV appearances in shows in such as ‘I Dream of Jeannie,’ ‘Daniel Boone,’ ‘Mannix,’ ‘My Three Sons,’ ‘Hogan's Heroes,’ ‘Love, American Style,’ ‘Wonder Woman,’ ‘The Love Boat,’ and ‘The Courtship of Eddie's Father.’ She made her film debut in the 1965 film ‘Beach Ball,’ playing ‘Samantha.’ She also had an important role in the 1973 film ‘Walking Tall.’ Her last appearance was in the TV show ‘Father Murphy’ in 1982. She played a character named ‘Rachel Hansen’ in an episode of the show. Although she had a booming career, Brenda later retired from the entertainment industry to focus on her family, However, she fell into severe depression after the death of her son. In 1982, she committed suicide by putting a revolver in her mouth. She died in her Los Angeles home.
Childhood & Early Life
Brenda was born Brenda Ann Nelson, on August 14, 1945, in Los Angeles, California. Brenda was darker than her siblings. This made her fantasize whether she was adopted.
She often felt she did not fit in the family. She was self-conscious and felt awkward in her teenage years.
She attended the ‘University of California, Los Angeles’ (UCLA) for a while, where she majored in languages.
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She made her TV debut with the series ‘Wendy and Me’ in 1964. She played ‘Shamir’ in an episode of the series.
In 1965, she was chosen to play ‘Jill McComb’ in the American day-time soap opera ‘The Young Marrieds.’
She appeared as ‘Karema’ in the series ‘McHale’s Navy’ before she appeared on ‘The Young Marrieds.’ In 1966, she played ‘Gizelle’ in an American spy fiction TV series named ‘The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.’
The same year, she also appeared as ‘Princess Little Fawn’ in an American action–adventure TV series named ‘Daniel Boone.’ The show starred Fess Parker as ‘Daniel Boone.’
In 1966, she appeared in two episodes of the ‘ABC’ TV show ‘My Three Sons.’
She made appearances in shows such as ‘I Dream of Jeannie,’ ‘The Iron Horse,’ and ‘The Green Hornet’ in 1967. In 1968, she appeared in two episodes of the ‘ABC’ action–adventure series ‘It Takes a Thief.’
The same year, she also appeared in three episodes of ‘Hogan’s Heroes.’ In 1969, she appeared in shows such as ‘Where the Heart Is,’ ‘The F.B.I.,’ ‘To Rome With Love,’ and ‘The High Chaparral.’
The following year, she had a three-episode role in the comedy TV series ‘Love, American Style.’ In the 1970s, she made appearances in a number of shows such as ‘Death Valley Days,’ ‘The Virginian,’ ‘Mannix,’ ‘Search,’ ‘Tattletales,’ ‘The Love Boat,’ ‘Fantasy Island,’ and ‘Carter County.’
She also had a notable role in the American TV series ‘Wonder Woman’ in 1978. She played ‘Morgana’ in an episode of the series.
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She played ‘Lee DuMonde Carmichael Williams’ in the day-time soap opera ‘Days of Our Lives.’ She was part of the regular cast and appeared in 255 episodes of the show.
In 1980, she portrayed ‘Annie Caplan’ in the TV series ‘The Incredible Hulk.’ Her last screen appearance was in 1982, in an episode of the show ‘Father Murphy.’ She played the part of ‘Rachel Hansen’ in the drama series.
She made her film debut with the 1956 film ‘Beach Ball,’ which featured her as ‘Samantha.’
The same year, she got an opportunity to appear in the American musical comedy ‘Harum Scarum,’ starring Elvis Presley. She played ‘Emerald’ in the film.
In 1967, she appeared in a stock car-racing film named ‘Track of Thunder.’ She portrayed ‘Shelly Newman’ in the film.
In 1973, she played ‘Luan Paxton’ in the cult classic ‘Walking Tall.’ The American semi-biopic was based on the life of Sheriff Buford Pusser, a professional wrestler-turned-lawman.
The film was a huge hit and had two direct sequels of its own, a TV movie, and a brief TV series. Even its remake had its own two sequels.
Brenda’s role in the film was important. This was also the last film of her career.
After 16 years in the industry, Brenda decided to focus on raising a family. She thus quit acting and focused on her personal life.
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Brenda married ‘The Donna Reed Show’ actor Paul Petersen in 1967. The couple divorced in 1970 after Brenda started dating actor Bill Bixby.
She divorced Paul and married Bixby in 1971. She gave birth to her son, Christopher Sean, in September 1974.
In 1980, Bixby and Brenda divorced. She then started dating American radio host, author, and ‘Fox News’ contributor Tammy Bruce.
Brenda was shaken when her son, Christopher, died at the age of 6. They were on a skiing vacation at Mammoth Lakes when the incident took place.
Her son suffered a cardiac arrest after doctors inserted a breathing tube to cure his acute epiglottitis. He died in March 1981.
Christopher’s death affected Brenda in a terrible way. Her divorce from Bixby also contributed to her deteriorating mental health.
Her character in ‘Days of Our Lives’ also became unpopular with her fans when the character broke up the popular couple of ‘Doug’ and ‘Julie.’ Brenda could not keep up with life’s challenges and sank into severe depression.
On April 7, 1982, she placed a Colt .38-cal. revolver into her mouth and pulled the trigger. She died instantly in her West Los Angeles home.
She was only 36 at the time of her death. In her book, ‘The Death of Right and Wrong,’ Tammy Bruce wrote about the day Brenda committed suicide.
Tammy and Brenda shared the house in which Brenda died. Tammy explained that she had already moved out 2 weeks before the suicide.
On the day of Brenda’s death, Tammy was supposed to meet her for lunch. When Tammy went inside, Brenda was already in the bathroom.
Tammy sensed something was wrong and went out to get help, but Brenda had already shot herself by then.