Robert Breck Denny Jr., the writer, actor and Groundlings performer best known as just Breck Denny, died Monday. He was 34.
Family members said Denny, who was amassing a run of impressive credits in TV series such as The Shrink Next Door, Ratched and Curb Your Enthusiasm, died of a rare spontaneous splenic artery rupture in Santa Barbara.
He was described by those close to him as equal parts brilliant and humble, radiant and deeply thoughtful, kind in the most genuine way, strong and sensitive, generous to others and self-reflective, intellectually curious and funny beyond measure. Those who saw him perform with the Groundlings’ Sunday Company no doubt got to experience the latter firsthand.
Originally from Cleveland, Denny graduated from New York University with a bachelor’s degree in creative writing before pursuing a career as a writer and performer. His sketch comedy was featured in LA Weekly as the “Comedy Pick of the Week,” his play Nickel Dickers won the Encore! Producer’s Award at the 2018 Hollywood Fringe Festival and he wrote, produced and starred in the short film The Last Piece.
Denny is survived by fiancee Emily Levitan (director of original series at Netflix), parents Robert Breck Denny Sr. and Ninna Denny, sisters Liza Oneglia, Carter Denny Adams and Louise Denny Considine and dog Yankee Doodle Denny.
“No one could make him laugh harder than himself,” read a statement from the family, “and his goofy, wicked, deep belly laugh had a ripple effect that made every room erupt with tangible sound waves.”
In lieu of flowers, mourners are encouraged to consider giving to The Groundlings Theatre & School in Los Angeles or Kieve Wavus Education Inc. and to donate blood to Vitalant in California or the Red Cross nationwide.