Eileen Ryan dead – Little House On The Prairie and At Close Range actress dies

Eileen Ryan has died aged 94 at her home in Malibu, a representative for the star has confirmed, although no cause of death has been revealed.

The actress was just days shy of celebrating her 95th birthday on October 16th.

Eileen was best known for her roles in Little House On The Prairie and At Close Range, and she was also mother to successful actor Sean Penn, 62, musician Michael Penn, 64, and late actor Chris Penn, who died in 2006 at age 40.

She was married to her sons' father, actor and director Leo Penn, from 1957 until he passed away in 1998. She met him in 1957 in New York City at rehearsals for The Iceman Cometh, and the besotted pair married just a few months after their first meeting.

Eileen enjoyed a successful acting career spanning nearly 70 decades after she made her Broadway debut in Sing Till Tomorrow in 1953, before turning her head towards TV and film.

She starred in over 60 TV series and films over the years, including Goodyear Television Playhouse in 1955, Twilight Zone, The Detectives, E.R., Ally McBeal and also 1972's Ben Casey.

Show business ran in the family, and Eileen often starred in flicks directed by her husband Leo, including Cannon, Matlock and Bonanza, as well as Little House On The Prairie.

She also often worked alongside her son, actor Sean Penn, and they could both be seen in I Am Sam, The Indian Runner, The Crossing Guard, The Pledge, The Assassination of Richard Nixon and All the King’s Men.

Eileen did pause her acting career at one point, to focus on motherhood, before later resuming her career.

She once played the grandmother of her two sons, Chris and Shaun, who were acting in At Close Range.

Her last acting role was back in 2016, when she appeared on Rules Don't Apply.

She was well-known in the showbiz circuit, often attending red carpet premieres with her son, Sean, and she was also acquainted with Hollywood legend Julia Roberts.

Following the news of Eileen's death, fans rushed to social media to pay their respects, with one writing: "RIP actress Eileen Ryan. You might know her from The Twilight Zone marathons that air (that's how I remember her).

"She was the widow of actor and director Leo Penn, and the mother of actor Sean Penn, singer Michael Penn and the late actor Chris Penn."

Another wrote: "RIP Sweet woman. You and your husband produced quite a talented troupe, whils a third said: "RIP Eileen Ryan," and added three red heart emojis.


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