See the Cast of ‘Private Benjamin’ Then and Now
Released in 1980, ‘Private Benjamin’ starred Goldie Hawn as a recently widowed woman who joins the army when she’s misled to believe that military life is more glamorous than it is. Bolstered by a cast that included Albert Brooks, Eileen Brennan and Craig T. Nelson, the hilarious film became an instant and enduring classic — there’s even a remake in the works. Now, almost 35 years later, we revisit the cast of this beloved comedy and see what they’re up to these days.
Goldie Hawn, Private Judy Benjamin
Then: Goldie Hawn, then best known for roles in films like ‘Shampoo’ and ‘Foul Play,’ played Judy Benjamin, a woman whose husband dies, so she’s convinced to join the army under the belief that the military life will be more glamorous than it actually is. Hawn had previously won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her turn in ‘Cactus Flower.’
Now: Hawn went on to appear in films like ‘Overboard,’ ‘Bird on a Wire,’ ‘Housesitter,’ ‘Death Becomes Her,’ ‘The First Wives Club’ and ‘Everyone Says I Love You.’ She hasn’t worked as much since the end of the ’90s, appearing only in 2001′s ‘Town and Country’ and 2002′s ‘The Banger Sisters.’ Hawn has been in a relationship with actor Kurt Russell since 1983, and is the mother of actress Kate Hudson. Most recently, she lent her voice to an episode of the animated series ‘Phineas and Ferb.’
Eileen Brennan, Captain Doreen Lewis
Then: Eileen Brennan played Captain Doreen Lewis, Judy’s superior who disapproves of the wide-eyed newcomer and makes life much tougher for her. Brennan had previously appeared on ‘Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In’ with Hawn, and was also known for roles in films like ‘The Sting’ and ‘Murder by Death.’
Now: Brennan reprised the role of Doreen Lewis for the short-lived ‘Private Benjamin’ TV series and starred in films like ‘The Funny Farm,’ ‘Clue’ and ‘Stella.’ Over the years, she guest starred on several shows, including ‘ER,’ ‘Home Improvement’ and ‘Will & Grace,’ and had a recurring role on ’7th Heaven.’ In her later years, she appeared in the films ‘Jeepers Creepers’ and ‘Miss Congeniality 2.’ Brennan sadly passed away in 2013 at the age of 80.
Armand Assante, Henri Alan Tremont
Then: Armand Assante played Henri Alan Tremont, the French doctor with whom Judy falls in love and to whom she later becomes engaged, only to find out he’s a no-good cheater. At the time, Assante wasn’t that well known, but had appeared in the films ‘Prophecy’ and ‘Little Darlings.’
Now: He appeared in several TV movies throughout the ’80s, and in the ’90s starred in films like ‘Hoffa,’ ‘Judge Dredd,’ ‘Striptease’ and the ‘Gotti’ TV movie, for which he won the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie. In recent years, he appeared in ‘Two for the Money,’ ‘Surveillance’ and ‘American Gangster,’ and guested on ‘Chuck’ and ‘Human Target.’ More recently, he starred in the film ‘Dead Man Down.’
Mary Kay Place, Private/2nd Lieutenant Mary Lou Glass
Then: Mary Kay Place played the role of Private Mary Lou Glass, one of Judy’s pals and fellow troops. Place previously won an Emmy for her role on ‘Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman,’ and also appeared on episodes of ‘M*A*S*H’ and ‘All in the Family.’
Now: Place went on to star in classics like ‘The Big Chill’ and ‘Captain Ron,’ and had a recurring role on the series ‘My So-Called Life.’ In addition to acting, she also directed episodes of the shows ‘Dream On,’ ‘Friends’ and ‘Baby Boom.’ In later years, she appeared in the films ‘Being John Malkovich,’ ‘Girl, Interrupted,’ ‘Youth in Revolt’ and ‘It’s Complicated,’ but you might recognize her best from her recurring role on the HBO series ‘Big Love,’ where she portrayed Mormon matriarch Adaleen Grant. More recently, she guest starred on episodes of ‘The New Normal’ and ‘Californication,’ and appeared in the film ‘Last Weekend.’
Harry Dean Stanton, 1st Sergeant Jim Ballard
Then: Harry Dean Stanton starred as Jim Ballard, the Sergeant who convinces Judy Benjamin to join the army under the pretense that it’s actually quite glamorous. Already a veteran actor by 1980, Stanton recently appeared in films like ‘The Godfather Part II’ and ‘Alien.’
Now: One of our most prolific character actors, Stanton has over 180 credits to his name, and he appeared in classics like ‘Escape from New York,’ ‘Red Dawn’ and ‘Pretty in Pink.’ He has also been in the David Lynch films ‘Wild at Heart,’ ‘Fire Walk with Me,’ ‘The Straight Story’ and ‘Inland Empire,’ as well as movies like ‘Twister,’ ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ and ‘The Green Mile.’ Stanton reunited with Mary Kay Place for the HBO series ‘Big Love,’ on which he had a recurring role for several years, and he most recently appeared in the films ‘The Avengers,’ ‘Seven Psychopaths’ and ‘The Last Stand.’ He was also the subject of a documentary chronicling his life and career, titled ‘Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction.’
P.J. Soles, Private Wanda Winter
Then: P.J. Soles, known for roles in ‘Carrie,’ ‘Halloween’ and ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll High School,’ played fellow Private Wanda Winter.
Now: Soles has since appeared in the films ‘Stripes,’ ‘Sweet Dreams,’ ‘Jawbreaker’ and ‘The Devil’s Rejects.’ In more recent years, she had roles in B-movies like ‘Alone in the Dark II’ and ‘The Butterfly Room.’ She can be seen next in the upcoming film ’13 Girls.’
Craig T. Nelson, Captain William Woodbridge
Then: One of Craig T. Nelson’s earliest roles was as Captain William Woodbridge, a superior officer in ‘Private Benjamin.’
Now: Nelson went on to star in ‘Poltergeist,’ ‘Silkwood’ and ‘Born on the Fourth of July’ before landing the leading role on the hit sitcom ‘Coach,’ which ran from 1989 to 1997. When that show ended, he appeared in the films ‘The Devil’s Advocate,’ ‘Wag the Dog’ and ‘The Skulls,’ and voiced Mr. Incredible in Pixar’s ‘The Incredibles.’ He also starred on ‘The District,’ and currently stars on the series ‘Parenthood,’ and in recent years appeared in ‘Blades of Glory,’ ‘The Proposal’ and ‘Company Men.’ He can be seen next in the upcoming comedy ‘Get Hard’ with Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart.
Albert Brooks, Yale Goodman
Then: Albert Brooks played Yale Goodman, Judy’s husband whose untimely death prompts her enlistment in the army. Brooks had previously appeared in ‘Taxi Driver,’ and wrote, directed and starred in ‘Real Life.’
Now: Brooks went on to star in ‘Terms of Endearment,’ ‘Broadcast News’ and ‘I’ll Do Anything,’ and voiced Marlin in Pixar’s ‘Finding Nemo.’ He also wrote, directed and starred in the films ‘Modern Romance,’ ‘Lost in America,’ ‘Defending Your Life,’ and ‘Mother.’ In recent years, he lent his voice to ‘The Simpsons Movie,’ and appeared in ‘Drive’ and ‘This Is 40.’ Up next, he’ll star in ‘A Most Violent Year,’ and reprise the voice role of Marlin for Pixar’s ‘Finding Dory.’