‘Little House on the Prairie’ Actress and Mom of Sean Penn has Died

Eileen Ryan has died at home in Malibu, a representative of the star has confirmed.

The veteran actress passed away at the age of 94 on Sunday just days before her 95th birthday.

She was best known in her acting career for her roles on Little House On The Prairie and Bonanza, and was also the mum of musician Michael Penn, actor Sean Penn, 62, and the late actor Chris Penn, who died aged 40 of heart disease in 2006.

Eileen married actor and director Leo Penn in 1957, and stayed wed to the star until he died in 1998. Her first TV appearance came several years before she tied the knot, when she appeared on drama series Goodyear Television Playhouse in 1955.

Before that, she had starred on Broadway, making her debut on stage in the 1953 production of Sing Till Tomorrow.

After marrying Leo, she starred in a number of projects her husband worked on on the small screen, including episodes of Cannon, Matlock as well as Little House On The Prairie.

On the big screen, he directed the 1988 movie Judgment In Berlin, in which Eileen starred as Gerta X.

Her acting career came to a halt when she became a full-time mum, but she did later make small appearances on projects such as At Close Range in 1986. In it, she played the grandmother of characters played by her real-life sons Sean and Christopher.

She featured in several other films alongside Sean, including 1991’s The Indian Runner, The Crossing Guard in 1995, I Am Sam in 2001, and the 2006 production of All The King’s Men.

Her last appearance on screen came in Warren Beatty’s 2016 production of Rules Don’t Apply.

Following the news of her death, fans took to social media to send messages of condolence. One Twitter user wrote: “RIP actress Eileen Ryan. You might know her from The Twilight Zone marathons that air (that’s how I remember her).

“She was the widow of actor and director Leo Penn, and the mother of actor Sean Penn, singer Michael Penn and the late actor Chris Penn.”

Another commented: “RIP Sweet woman. You and your husband produced quite a talented troupe.”

And a third said: “RIP Eileen Ryan,” followed by three red heart emojis.

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