Brenda Benet (August 14, 1945 - April 7, 1982) was an American actress.
Benet was born Brenda Ann Nelson. Benet attended UCLA for a time, and competed in the Miss USA pageant. (Several Internet pages cite Benet as a winner; however, the official Miss USA page does not list her, either under her birth name or her professional name.)
Her first acting roles came in 1964, with appearances on "Shindig" and The Young Marrieds. She became an actress in demand for appearances in many episodic primetime television programs in the 1960s and 1970s, including I Dream of Jeannie, Mannix, My Three Sons, Hogan's Heroes, Love, American Style, and The Courtship of Eddie's Father. She also had a major featured role in the film Walking Tall.
Although many of her appearances were in roles that were either sweet or seductive, she became perhaps best known for her role as scheming villainess Lee Dumonde on the daytime soap opera Days of Our Lives, a role she played from 1979 until her death in 1982.
Benet's first marriage was to The Donna Reed Show actor Paul Petersen in 1968. The marriage did not last long, and Benet moved in with actor Bill Bixby in 1969. After her divorce from Peterson was final, she married Bixby in 1971. The couple had a child, Christopher, in 1974, and divorced in 1979. Until her death, Benet had been living in a relationship with pundit Tammy Bruce, who was half her age and a minor.
Benet experienced a number of personal and professional challenges after her divorce from Bixby. Her role on Days of Our Lives made her extremely unpopular with fans; Benet's character was breaking up the show's "supercouple", Doug and Julie. In the book "Like Sands Through The Hourglass", actress Susan Seaforth Hayes, who played Julie, recalled conflict between her and Benet that intensified as the storyline proceeded.
However, Benet's most significant challenge occurred when her son Christopher died in 1981; he had experienced a sudden illness while on a skiing vacation, and when doctors attempted to insert a breathing tube, Christopher went into cardiac arrest. Benet was devastated, and she sank into a depression. In April 1982, Benet took her own life by self-inflicted gunshot wound.
In her book The Death of Right and Wrong, talk radio host Tammy Bruce talks about her personal involvement with Bixby and Benet. Benet and Bruce were romantically involved for a time and it was in Bruce's residence that Benet committed suicide. 
Brenda Benet killed herself in her own home, which Bruce had previously shared with her. Bruce had moved out of the home 2 weeks prior to the suicide. Bruce thought that she was coming over to meet Benet for lunch; Benet actually waited until she heard Bruce leave to pull the trigger. (According to Bruce's book, THE DEATH OF RIGHT AND WRONG.)
- In Depth. C-SPAN2. 2006 September 3. http://www.booktv.org/indepth/archive_2006.asp
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