A Tribute to The High School Teacher Who Inspired Brian Dennehy



I met Brian Dennehy, who died today, about 20 years ago when he accepted my invitation to visit my staff at Associated Press headquarters in New York. He did so reluctantly because his dad had worked at the AP, and Brian long harbored resentment about the way his father had been treated there. Just what that was about, I never was able to find out.

While Brian joined us, he was gracious in sharing stories about his experiences, but NOT for print. One of the things he talked about was a football coach and theater teacher who had inspired and encouraged him. He might not have amounted to much, he said, if not for that teacher.

Hey, I said, if the teacher is still living, I’d like to invite him to sit with a reporter to watch one of your Broadway performances.

At first Brian said no. He didn’t want any story about himself, perhaps because he still didn’t quite trust us. You got me wrong, I said. The story won’t be about you. I will be about HIM.

Ok, then, he said, so we set it up. The teacher, Chris Sweeny, sat with one of AP’s best writers, Helen O’Neill, for a performance of “Death of a Salesman.”

To read the lovely story she wrote, please click here.


About Bruce DeSilva

Crime Novelist
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