The beautiful and talented Brenda Benet was an enigma during her time. She was a very successful actress who became popular for some of her roles in well-loved television series. Some of her popular roles are in Days of Our Lives and The Young Marrieds where her performances were outstanding. Like most people, Brenda struggled with several personal issues, including depression which led to her suicide at the young age of 36.
Despite her early death, she featured in a sizable number of television shows and her talent and brilliance as an actress is undeniable.
Who Was Brenda Benet?
Born Brenda Ann Nelson on the 14th of August 1945 in Los Angeles, California, United States, she grew up feeling awkward and self-conscious because she had a complexion that was darker than her siblings. She grew up wanting to be a performer and started dance lessons at an early age. As things were a little rough for her family at that time, her mother, who saw the potential in her had to pickup cleaning and sewing jobs to pay for her classes. She spoke Italian, Greek and French languages fluently.
Brenda Benet was said to have schooled at UCLA for a while where she majored in Language. Some of her early roles as an actress were in 1964 where she appeared in The Young Marrieds (1965-1966) and Shindig. Her performances and appearance soon made filmmakers and viewers take note of her. She subsequently became one of the most sought after actresses, especially for television roles in the 1960s and 1970s.
She featured in television shows like Wendy and Me (1964), McHale’s Navy (1965) Daniel Boone (1966), My Three Sons (1966-1970), I Dream of Jeannie (1967), The Iron Horse (1967), The Green Hornet (1967), It Takes a Thief (1968-1969), Mannix (1971-1975), Hogan’s Heroes (1968-1970), Love, American Style (1969-1972), The Love Boat (1977), The Courtship of Eddie’s Father (1971), Tattletales (1976), The Magician (1973), Father Murphy (1982), Wonder Woman (1978) and two television movies – Wednesday Night Out (1972) and The Horror at 37,000 Feet (1973), amongst others . Her film credits include Beach Ball, Harum Scarum (1965), Track of Thunder (1967), Walking Tall (1973).
One of the most popular roles of her career was as Lee Dumonde in the series Days of Our Lives (1979-1982). Her character was not well-liked on the show as she was trying to get in between one of the shows most popular couple (Julie and Doug).
Things weren’t very rosy in Brenda’s personal life. As at the time she died, she had gone through two divorces. She first married fellow actor Paul Peterson in 1967 but in 1969, she left him to be with another actor – Bill Bixby. After her divorce from her first husband became finalized, she married Bixby in 1971. They welcomed their first child who they named Christopher Sean in September 1974. They were fine for a while until things went sour which ended in divorce in 1980. She then began a relationship with her former girlfriend – Tammy Bruce whom she dated until her death.
When, Where and What Did Brenda Benet Die of?
Brenda’s major loss which sent her into a bout of depression that ended her life was the death of her 6-year-old son (Christopher). In 1981, Brenda and Don Edmonds took her son on a winter vacation in Mammoth Lakes, California, where they went skiing. He developed a sudden illness and was rushed to the hospital, while doctors were trying to insert a breathing tube down his throat; he went into cardiac arrest and died shortly after.
All these sad events in her life culminated into the tragedy that led Brenda to commit suicide. It is safe to conclude that she never recovered from her son’s death and she felt life was no longer worth living.
On the 7th of April 1962, Brenda locked herself in the bathroom in her Los Angeles residence. She arranged and lit some candles in a circle on the floor before lying down. Her then-girlfriend – Tammy Bruce whom she was supposed to meet for lunch showed up to find her locked in the bathroom and sensed something was amiss. Before Tammy arrived with help, she put a gun (colt. 38-cal revolver) in her mouth and pulled the trigger. She died instantly at the age of 36. Her legacy sure lives on.