Hope welcomes people from around the world when Rambo: First Blood 40th anniversary celebrations take place over the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend. One of the people coming to town is Elizabeth Dennehy, daughter of Brian Dennehy, aka Sheriff Will Teasle.
Check out three more stories in the Hope Standard’s Rambo special section, which you can find on pages B1 to 8 of the Sept. 30, 2022 e-Edition.
Brian Dennehy was great at playing the tough guy. As Rambo First Blood’s Sheriff Will Teasle, he wasn’t taking no guff from anyone. But how closely did his on-screen persona mirror real life? Was he the same no-nonsense type of guy when the cameras weren’t rolling?
“Let me put it this way,” said daughter Elizabeth Dennehy. “When I became an actress in Hollywood, the minute a guy, especially an actor or filmmaker, thought they might be able to flirt with me, the minute they found out who my dad was, I was safe.”
Elizabeth, who is coming to Hope for the 40th anniversary celebration, described her dad as intimidating, strong and confident.
“He knew the power he had when he walked into a room,” she said. “And when he walked into a room, all eyes were on him. Part of it was his imposing size, but he just commanded attention. He knew he was an imposing figure and he maximized that to full effect.”
Brian Dennehy died in 2021, at the age of 81.
For the people who knew him best, Elizabeth said he was a “real human being,” always authentic.
Brian’s filmography page at imdb.com stretches from his first credited acting role in 1977 (Peter Connor on Kojak) all the way up to 2020.
Rambo is one of 185 roles, and Elizabeth said he didn’t talk about it much.
“Actors are always on to the next role,” she noted. “Whatever he was working on in the moment, that’s what he was consumed with, and when that was done it was on to the next thing.”
But there’s little doubt that of all his roles, Rambo: First Blood was one that cemented his place in popular culture. Forty years later, Sheriff Will Teasle is considered an all-time great movie antagonist, and the Rambo franchise has a world-wide following that few others can match.
In that way, Elizabeth can relate to her father’s fame. When she was 28 she appeared in two episodes of Star Trek the Next Generation, as Lieutenant Commander Shelby. Thirty-two years later, she says there’s not a day that goes by where someone doesn’t hit her up for a shoutout or a birthday wish.
“I go to Star Trek conventions now and I’m astonished by how many people care, and how much they care, so I’m never surprised at all by what people are fans of,” she said.
Elizabeth said she’s looking forward to her visit to Hope, and she believes it’s going to be a love-fest for her dad.
“How lucky are we that even though he’s gone, and that is heartbreaking, that through his work he’ll never be forgotten,” she said. “That is so great, and to be with people who care so much and appreciate him so much, I think it’s going to be a beautiful weekend.”
A special presentation to the Dennehy family is planned for Saturday afternoon (4 p.m. on Oct. 8), at Third and Wallace. Beyond that, Elizabeth and other members of the Dennehy clan will be checking out Hope, taking in the sights and sounds of the 40th anniversary celebration.
“I think it’s going to be a beautiful place and it’s going to be a very moving and heart-warming experience,” she said.