Sean Penn’s mother Eileen Ryan dies aged 94

Sean Penn’s mother Eileen Ryan dies aged 94

October 11, 2022

Hulu's The First stares Sean Penn and Natascha McElhone

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Sean Penn’s mother Eileen Ryan has sadly died in her Malibu home at the age of 94. The actress, who starred in classics like Bonanza and Little House On The Prairie, would have turned 95 in one week on October 16.

Eileen died on Sunday in Malibu, California, a representative for the family announced. 

The famous actress was mother to actor Sean, 62, musician Michael Penn, 64, and late actor Chris Penn, who died in 2006 at age 40. 

During her decades-long career, Eileen starred in over 60 television shows and films. 

She was married to actor and director Leo Penn from 1957 until his death in 1998.

Her eldest son Michael tweeted out a picture of his late mother yesterday with a broken heart emoji, writing: “We lost mom yesterday.”

Eileen was a famous face on the small screen, appearing in numerous popular television shows over the years. 

She often showed up in episodes of shows directed by her husband, which included Bonanza, Cannon, and Little House on the Prairie.

Eileen also appeared in The Twilight Zone in 1960, and had guest roles in popular ’90s shows Ally McBeal,  NYPD Blue and E.R.


The legendary actress was born in New York in 1927 to a nurse, Rose Isabel and a dentist, Amerigo Giuseppe Annucci.

She first appeared on Broadway in 1953, where she made her debut in 1953’s Sing Till Tomorrow at the age of 25. 

By 1955, she had her first television credit on the drama series Goodyear Television Playhouse, and continued to star on Broadway when she performed in 1958’s Comes a Day.

Eileen’s last appearance was in Warren Beatty’s romantic dramedy Rules Don’t Apply in 2016.

The star paused her acting career for some time to be a full-time mother to her children, but eventually went on to share the screen with her son. 

Eileen and Sean have appeared together in multiple titles, including The Indian Runner, All the King’s Men, and I Am Sam.

Her return to acting in 1986 also saw her playing her sons Sean and Chris’ on-screen grandmother in At Close Range.

Through Sean, the star has been mother-in-law to some famous figures, including singer Madonna and actress Robin Wright.

Eileen met her own husband Leo in 1957 in rehearsals for their New York play The Iceman Cometh.

The loved up pair moved in together within a week of meeting before marrying a few months later. 

They stayed married for 41 years until Leo’s death at the age of 77 in 1998. 

Her son Sean has won two Academy Awards, for his roles in the mystery drama Mystic River (2003) and the biopic Milk (2008).

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