Brenda Benet — A mother’s worst nightmare

  • April 7, 1982

The death of a young son is the worst pain a mother can suffer.

For actress Brenda Benet it was too much to bear.

Brenda Benet acted in scores of TV shows during the 1960s and ‘70s, but was best known for her role as the scheming villainess Lee DuMonde in the daytime serial Days of Our Lives, a part she played from 1979 until 1982.

Actress Brenda Benet tragedy
Brenda Benet as Lee Dumonde

Among her movie roles was that of a kind-hearted prostitute in the 1973 Joe Don Baker movie Walking Tall about the too-tough-to-kill Tennessee sheriff Buford Pusser. In this scene she doesn’t say a word but she is so cool.


MARRIAGE AND TRAGEDY 

Brenda married Bill Bixby in 1971 and three years later they had a child, Christopher Sean. The couple divorced in 1980, and a year later they were hit with the worst tragedy parents can face.

Actress Brenda Benet tragedy
Bill Bixby, Brenda Benet and baby Christopher

In March of 1981, when Christopher was six years old, Brenda and Christopher went on a weekend ski trip at Mammoth Lakes north of Los Angeles. Christopher suddenly suffered a severe throat disruption that prevented him from swallowing. He went into a coma and was rushed to hospital. Doctors performed an emergency tracheotomy but he died of cardiac arrest.

Brenda sank into a depression from which she would never recover.

A SHOCKING DISCOVERY 

On April 7, 1982, her close friend, talk show host Tammy Bruce, had planned to have lunch with Brenda. Tammy went to Brenda’s West Los Angeles home but she didn’t appear to be home. Tammy looked in all the rooms. The last room she checked was the bathroom. The door was locked.

Tammy went for help and the door was forced open. Brenda was lying on the floor. She had arranged several lit candles in a circle around her before putting the barrel of a Colt 38-caliber revolver in her mouth and pulling the trigger. She died instantly. She was 36.


Bill Bixby coped with the loss of their son by throwing himself into his acting on The Incredible Hulk. He died of cancer in 1993 at the age of 59.


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