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Brenda Benet

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Brenda Benet
Benet in The Young Marrieds (1965)
Brenda Ann Nelson

(1945-08-14)August 14, 1945
DiedApril 7, 1982(1982-04-07) (aged 36)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Years active1964–1982
(m. 1967; div. 1970)
(m. 1971; div. 1980)
PartnerTammy Bruce (1980–1982)

Brenda Benet (born Brenda Ann Nelson; August 14, 1945 – April 7, 1982) was an American actress. She is best known for her roles on the soap operas The Young Marrieds (1965–1965) and Days of Our Lives (1979–1982). She was also featured in an episode of Hogan's Heroes in 1970.

Early life and career


Benet was born Brenda Ann Nelson in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California; later, her family moved to South Gate.[1][2][3] She graduated from South Gate High School, attended Los Angeles City College, then studied at the University of California at Los Angeles, majoring in languages.[3] She studied with San Francisco Ballet, was featured in several productions of the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera, was a musician who played piano, flute and violin, and was fluent in five languages.[2]

Her first acting roles were in 1964, with appearances on Shindig! and The Young Marrieds. She eventually became an actress very much in demand for roles in episodic primetime television in the 1960s and 1970s, including I Dream of Jeannie; McHale's Navy; Daniel Boone; Mannix; The Green Hornet (TV series); My Three Sons; Hogan's Heroes; Love, American Style; Wonder Woman; The Love Boat and The Courtship of Eddie's Father. She also had a major role in the feature film Walking Tall (1973).

Although many of the characters she portrayed seemed to be either sweet or seductive, she became perhaps best known for her role as scheming villainess Lee Dumonde on the daytime serial Days of Our Lives, a role she played from 1979 until her death in 1982.

Personal life


Benet's first marriage was to The Donna Reed Show actor Paul Petersen in 1967. In 1969, Benet left Petersen for actor Bill Bixby.[4] After her divorce from Petersen became final, she married Bixby in 1971. The couple had a child, Christopher Sean, in September 1974,[5] and then divorced in 1980.[6] After the divorce, Benet was romantically involved for a time with future pundit Tammy Bruce.[7]

Benet experienced a number of personal and professional challenges after her divorce from Bixby. Her role on Days of Our Lives made her extremely unpopular with fans; Benet's character was breaking up one of the show's popular couples, Doug and Julie, and fans were outraged. However, Benet's most personal challenge occurred when her six-year-old son Christopher died in March 1981. While they were on a weekend ski trip at Mammoth Lakes, Christopher suffered acute epiglottitis, going into a coma and cardiac arrest after doctors subsequently carried out a tracheotomy.[5]



Benet was devastated by her son's death and sank into a severe depression. On April 7, 1982, she died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at her home in Los Angeles.[1][3][2] She was 36. In her book The Death of Right and Wrong, talk radio host Tammy Bruce writes of her personal involvement with Bixby and Benet. Benet and Bruce were romantically involved for a time, and Benet killed herself in a home she had previously shared with Bruce. Bruce had moved out two weeks prior to the suicide. On the day of Benet's suicide, Bruce thought that she would be meeting her for lunch. According to Bruce, Benet was locked inside the bathroom of her home when she arrived. Bruce sensed something was wrong and went to get help. After Bruce stepped outside, Benet shot herself.[8]


Year Title Role Notes
1965 Beach Ball Samantha
Harum Scarum Emerald Alternative title: Harum Holiday
1967 Track of Thunder Shelly Newman
1973 Walking Tall Luan Paxton Listed in credits as Brenda Benét
Year Title Role Notes
1964 Wendy and Me Shamir 1 episode
1965 McHale's Navy Karema 1 episode
1965–1966 The Young Marrieds Jill McComb #4 Unknown episodes
1966 The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. Gizelle 1 episode
Daniel Boone Princess Little Fawn 1 episode
1966–1970 My Three Sons Elyse
2 episodes
1967 The Iron Horse Kitty Clayborne 1 episode
The Green Hornet Girl 1 episode
I Dream of Jeannie Eleanor 1 episode
1968–1969 It Takes a Thief Nicole
Angela Peters
2 episodes
1968–1970 Hogan's Heroes Janine Robinet
Marie Bizet
3 episodes
1969 The High Chaparral Anita de Santiago y Amistad 1 episode
To Rome With Love Tina 1 episode
The F.B.I. Stewardess 1 episode
1969–1972 Love, American Style 3 episodes
1970 Death Valley Days Chela 1 episode
Paris 7000 1 episode
1971 The Most Deadly Game Mindy 1 episode
The Courtship of Eddie's Father Brenda 1 episode
The Men From Shiloh, the rebranded name of The Virginian Susan Masters 1 episode
1971–1975 Mannix Ellen Parrish (S4-Ep16)
2 episodes
1972 Wednesday Night Out Television movie
Search Carol Lesko 1 episode
1973 The Horror at 37,000 Feet Sally Television movie
The Magician Joanna Marsh/Osborne 1 episode
1976 Tattletales Herself 5 episodes
1977 The Love Boat Maureen Mitchell 1 episode
1978 Wonder Woman Morgana 1 episode
Fantasy Island Ginny Winthrop 1 episode
1979 Carter Country Natalya 1 episode
1979–1982 Days of Our Lives Lee DuMonde Carmichael Williams 255 episodes
1980 The Incredible Hulk Annie Caplan 1 episode
1982 Father Murphy Rachel Hansen 1 episode, (final appearance)


  1. ^ a b Post-Gazette staff writers (April 9, 1982). "Actress Brenda Benet kills self, star in soap". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved May 1, 2018 – via WeLoveSoaps.net.
  2. ^ a b c "Actress Brenda Benet, who played the often hysterical Lee..." UPI. April 8, 1982. Archived from the original on June 28, 2017. Retrieved July 14, 2021.
  3. ^ a b c "Brenda Benet, Actress, Called Suicide Victim". The New York Times. Associated Press. April 9, 1982. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 14, 2021.
  4. ^ Kubey, Robert William (2003). Creating Television: The First 50 Years. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. pp. 384–385. ISBN 0-8058-1077-3.
  5. ^ a b UPI staff (March 3, 1981). "The 6-year-old son of 'Incredible Hulk' television series star". United Press International. Retrieved May 1, 2018.
  6. ^ Lisanti, Tom; Wells, Carole (2003). Drive-in Dream Girls: A Galaxy of B-movie Starlets of the Xixties. McFarland. pp. 219–220. ISBN 0-7864-1575-4.
  7. ^ Bruce, Tammy (2004). The Death of Right and Wrong: Exposing the Left's Assault on Our Culture and Values. Three Rivers Press. p. 2. ISBN 1-4000-5294-7.
  8. ^ Bruce (2004). The Death of Right and Wrong. p. 3.