R.I.P. Eileen Ryan, actress from The Twilight Zone, Bonanza and mother to actor Sean Penn

Ryan had a rich career, one she got to share with multiple family members in multiple ways.

Two-time Oscar-winning actor Sean Penn didn't have to look very far for any acting advice, and there's a good chance his mother, Eileen Ryan, had plenty to offer. 

Ryan began her career on Broadway in the early-Fifties in Sing Till Tomorrow. A few years later, Ryan met accomplished actor and director Leo Penn. Within a few months, the couple married and joined forces on several projects from classic TV to films. Early on, Ryan launched her career while raising their three children, Michael, Sean and Chris. 

Ryan stood out in the memorable 1960, season-one episode of The Twilight Zone titled "A World of Difference." From 1960-1962, Ryan appeared in several roles on classic television before stepping aside to become a full-time mother. In 1972, Ryan returned to work with her third appearance on the classic Western Bonanza for the "First Love" episode, which was directed by her husband, Leo. 

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Leo Penn "guided her on episodes of Cannon, Little House on the Prairie, Marcus Welby, M.D., and Matlock." Ryan and Leo Penn were together for four decades, until his death in 1998.

In the Eighties, Ryan appeared in a handful of films, including At Close Range, Judgment in Berlin (directed and written by Leo Penn), Winter People and Parenthood, which was directed by Ron Howard.

Before he went on to win two Oscars for his Best Actor roles in the movies Mystic River (2003) and Milk (2008), Sean Penn shared the screen with his mother on several occasions.

The mother-son duo appeared in "The Indian Runner (1991), The Crossing Guard (1995), I Am Sam (2001), The Pledge (2001), The Assassination of Richard Nixon (2004) and All the King's Men (2006)," per The Hollywood Reporter

Ryan would spend the the rest of the 2000s appearing in various TV series, films and video shorts. She continued to appear in both TV and movies in the 2010s, most notably in an episode of Grey's Anatomy in 2014 and the 2016 movie Rules Don't Apply, her last onscreen role. 

With 61 acting credits to her name per IMDb.com, Eileen Ryan left impressive performances in any role she was cast in, whether it was a collab with her husband of 40 years, an appearance with her son or a lasting impression on some of TV's most classic series. 

Ryan died Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022 at the age of 94, one week before what would have been her 95th birthday according to CNN

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BorisK 19 months ago
At first I thought they meant Irene Ryan who played Granny Clampett, but this is Eileen.
LalaLucy 19 months ago
I love that TZ episode. Never knew she was Sean Penn's mother either., but, now that I am studying the photo, I definitely see the resemblance. She sounded like quite a lady with quite a career. How wonderful to read she had what sounds like a long and happy marriage with Leo and that she took time to step back and be a mom. So rare these days. Prayers to all mourning her loss.
Lantern 19 months ago
Wow, I've seen that Twilight Zone episode many times but never knew she was Sean Penn's mother.

I've heard that Sally Field's mother was also in a TZ episode but don't know which one.
RichLorn Lantern 19 months ago
I think the TZ episode you're thinking of was "Gidget Surfs the River Styx".
Pacificsun Lantern 19 months ago
🥧 Hope this helps to answer your question.

BorisK Lantern 19 months ago
Margaret Field was in the TZ Marin Balsam episode where he brings wax figures home from work.
I'm a Gidget and Frankie & Annette beach movie fan. THAT is really funny. You made my day. 🙂
MrsPhilHarris 19 months ago
Married 40 years. You don’t often hear that with Hollywood marriages.
harlow1313 19 months ago
I quite like Michael Penn's brand of power pop. His "No Myth" is an excellent number that was a hit.

If you would like a refresher,

MrsPhilHarris harlow1313 19 months ago
To be honest I don’t recall the tune. 🤷‍♀️
harlow1313 MrsPhilHarris 19 months ago
It was probably easy to miss. Apparently, it hit #13 on the Billboard U.S. chart in 1989. I also remember the video from MTV, before MTV became dreadful. The song caught my ear.
cperrynaples harlow1313 19 months ago
Here's a bonus question: Who is Michael's wife, what '80's band did she lead and what was that band's one hit?
harlow1313 cperrynaples 19 months ago
Aimee Mann. Til Tuesday. The song title now eludes me, but I'm too proud to google. She and Michael did a nice cover of the Beatles' "Two of Us." Hold on, "Voices Carry." I am a genius, a super-genius.
Runeshaper 19 months ago
R.I.P. Eileen Ryan. Sounds like a most accomplished woman (-:
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