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Brenda Benet
Born Brenda Ann Nelson
August 14, 1945(1945-08-14)
Hollywood, California, U.S.
Died April 7, 1982 (aged 36)
West Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Other name(s) Brenda Benét
Occupation Actress
Years active 1964–1982
Spouse(s) Paul Petersen (1967–1970)
Bill Bixby (1971–1979)

Brenda Benet (August 14, 1945 – April 7, 1982) was an American television and film actress. Benet was best known for her roles on the soap operas The Young Marrieds and Days of our Lives.


Early life and career

Benet was born Brenda Ann Nelson in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California. She attended UCLA for a time. 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 prime time television in the 1960s and 1970s, including I Dream of Jeannie, Mannix, My Three Sons, Hogan's Heroes, Love, American Style, and The Courtship of Eddie's Father. She also had a major feature role in the 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.[1] After her divorce from Peterson became final, she married Bixby in 1971. The couple had a child, Christopher, in 1974, and then divorced in 1980.[2] After the divorce and up until her death, Benet was in a relationship with pundit Tammy Bruce, who was then 17 years old.[3]

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. In the book Like Sands through the Hourglass, actress Susan Seaforth Hayes, who played Julie, recalled conflict between her and Benet that intensified as the storyline progressed.

However, Benet's most personal challenge occurred when her son Christopher died in 1981. While on a skiing vacation, he experienced a sudden illness and went into cardiac arrest after doctors attempted to insert a breathing tube. Benet was devastated by her son's death and sank into a severe depression. On April 7, 1982, Benet took her own life by a self-inflicted gunshot wound. 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 Benet 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.[4] The book Soap Opera Babylon said that Benet was actually involved with a male costar on Days of our Lives that ended right before she killed herself.


Year Film Role Notes
1965 Beach Ball Samantha
Harum Scarum Emerald Alternative title: Harum Holiday
1967 Track of Thunder Shelly Newman
1973 Walking Tall Luan Paxton
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 #2 Unknown episodes
1966 The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. Gizelle 1 episode
Daniel Boone Princess Wild Flower 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
Where the Heart Is Sally Moore Unknown episodes
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 Virginian Susan Masters 1 episode
1971-1975 Mannix Ellen Parrish
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
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 Unknown episodes
1980 The Incredible Hulk Annie Caplan 1 episode
1982 Father Murphy Rachel Hansen 1 episode


  1. ^ Kubey, Robert William (2003). Creating Television: The First 50 Years. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. pp. 384–385. ISBN 0-805-81077-3.  
  2. ^ Lisanti, Tom; Wells, Carole (2003). Drive-in Dream Girls: A Galaxy of B-movie Starlets of the Xixties. McFarland. pp. 219–220. ISBN 0-786-41575-4.  
  3. ^ Bruce, Tammy (2004-08-22). The Death of Right and Wrong: Exposing the Left's Assault on Our Culture and Values. Three Rivers Press. pp. 2. ISBN 1-400-05294-7.  
  4. ^ Bruce, Tammy (2004-08-22). The Death of Right and Wrong: Exposing the Left's Assault on Our Culture and Values. Three Rivers Press. pp. 3. ISBN 1-400-05294-7.  

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