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Biography

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Overview (4)

Born in Hollywood, California, USA
Died in West Los Angeles, California, USA  (suicide by gunshot)
Birth NameBrenda Ann Nelson
Height 5' 3" (1.6 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Brenda Benet, born Brenda Ann Nelson in Los Angeles, California, on August 14, 1945, was a classic example of the modern-day Hollywood tragedy. As a television actress with good dramatic scope, she managed to piece together a wide and impressive portfolio of guest shots in a career spanning just over 16 years before taking her life at the age of 36. She spent her childhood and early teenage years feeling awkward and self-conscious because her complexion was darker than those of her siblings. Because of this, she felt that she did not fit in with her family, and often fantasized about being adopted.

Brenda attended UCLA for a brief time, majoring in languages. In 1962 she entered show business; her breakthrough role came in 1964 when she was selected to play the part of Jill McComb in The Young Marrieds (1964). After that came stints on various comedy and drama series in the '60s and '70s, usually playing ethnic, exotic types. She was probably best known for her role as the kind-hearted prostitute in Walking Tall (1973). During this time she married and divorced actor Paul Petersen. She began a relationship with Bill Bixby and moved in with him in 1969, and they married in 1971. By the late '70s, however, they were divorced.

Brenda retired from the business in the mid-'70s to raise a family, and in late 1974 she gave birth to a boy, Christopher Sean Bixby. Tragically, Christopher died in 1981 during a winter ski vacation in California. It was believed that this and her divorce from Bixby were the events which caused Brenda's life to spin out of control. On April 7, 1982, Brenda went into the bathroom of her West Los Angeles home, lit and arranged some candles in a circle on the floor and lay down. She then placed a Colt .38-cal. revolver into her mouth and pulled the trigger. She died instantly.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Charles B. Assiff (qv's & corrections by A. Nonymous)

Spouse (2)

Bill Bixby (4 July 1971 - 1979) ( divorced) ( 1 child)
Paul Petersen (22 June 1967 - 1970) ( divorced)

Trivia (7)

Committed suicide after the death of her only child, which completely devastated her.
Had always wanted to be a performer and took dance lessons at an early age. Her mother paid for these lessons by taking jobs cleaning and sewing.
She played bouffant-brunette beauties for most of her "nice girl" career, but is best known for her portrayal of villainess Lee Dumonde on the daytime soap Days of Our Lives (1965). She was on the show for three years until her suicide.
She had one child with then-husband Bill Bixby, Christopher, born in 1974. In 1981, shortly after her breakup with Bixby, she and Don Edmonds took Christopher on a winter vacation to Mammoth Lakes, CA. Christopher developed a sudden, severe illness. The child was rushed to the hospital, where personnel attempted to treat him. When doctors tried to insert a breathing tube down his throat, he suddenly went into cardiac arrest and died a short time later.
Spoke French, Italian and Greek.
Ex-sister-in-law of Patty Petersen.
After divorcing Bill Bixby, she reunited with former girlfriend Tammy Bruce, conservative pundit and openly gay radio talk show host.. Benet had been distraught over the death of her and Bixby's six-year-old son Christopher, who had recently died from a sudden throat infection. On April 7, 1982, two weeks after Bruce and Benet again parted ways, Bruce showed up for a planned lunch with Benet at the home they previously shared in Mandeville Canyon in west Los Angeles. She found the bathroom door locked. Police came and broke down the door to find Benet dead from a self-inflicted .38-cal. gunshot wound to the head.

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