Ed and Sue Anne Dennehy, of Huntington, were audience favorites on the Long Island theater scene who shared many memorable scenes together on stage. Their final moments couldn’t have been more dramatic.
Shortly after Sue Anne Dennehy, 68, succumbed to cancer at Hospice Inn in Melville on Saturday morning, family members went to break the news to Ed, 69, at the couple’s home.
They arrived to discover he had also died, though it is uncertain when. As of Saturday night, the family did not know the specific cause of death.
“This was just a shocking day to me,” said their daughter Courtney Flynn of Huntington. “It’s completely overwhelming.”
Flynn praised her parents, who both grew up in Mineola, as “extremely talented” actors who enjoyed their craft.
Ed and Sue Anne met as teenagers when they were cast in a production of “West Side Story” directed by his brother — the now well-known stage, film and television actor Brian Dennehy — at St. Aidan Church in Williston Park.
“They played boyfriend and girlfriend before they were boyfriend and girlfriend,” said Sheila Rettaliata from Mineola, a family friend who created Culture Cabaret, a theater company, with Ed.
They continued their relationship — both on and offstage — as students at Hofstra University and were married by the time they graduated in 1968. After a few years, Ed and Sue Anne split up, but then reconnected 10 years later and became a couple again, though they never remarried.
Throughout those years, Ed carved a successful career as both a popular stage actor and a director that began when he was a student at Chaminade High School. He worked one summer at the Mineola Playhouse where Sammy Davis Jr. starred as a gangster in “The Desperate Hours.” That fall, Dennehy, then a sophomore, landed the role in Chaminade’s production of the play.
Over the next four decades, Dennehy played more than 500 roles at theaters on Long Island, including Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, Clarence Darrow and even Bette Davis in Hofstra USA’s production of “Me and Jezebel” in 2001. He was a founding members of Hofstra’s Gray Wigs, the school’s alumni theater company.
“He was an enormous talent,” said family friend and Gray Wigs co-founder Joan Rubenstein of Long Beach. “He had a passion for the theater.”
Sue Anne, who worked as an art teacher for BOCES, also worked at many Long Island theaters, most notably Theatre Three in Port Jefferson, where she became a regular starting with “The Laramie Project” in 2006.
“She was the epitome of the professional,” said Jeffrey Sanzel, the theater’s artistic director. “It didn’t matter whether she was playing the lead in a main-stage production or a supporting role in a children’s show, she wanted to do as much as she could.”
Her final productions there last year were “Oliver!,” in which she played Mrs. Bedwin, and a featured role in “The Pied Piper.”
Survivors include Flynn and her brother, Brendan, as well as five grandchildren. Services for both will be held at M.A. Connell Funeral Home in Huntington Station on Wednesday from 7 to 9 p.m. and Thursday from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Plans for funeral services Friday morning were still being arranged.