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Josh Brolin Was 'Liberated' by Mom's Passing despite It Being the 'Worst Thing That Ever Happened'

Junie Sihlangu
Jun 19, 2022
07:40 A.M.
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Josh Brolin lost his mother, Jane Cameron Agee, before he even turned 30 and struggled with her sudden death. However, the incident ultimately changed his life and led him on a different path.


Josh Brolin's father is the famous actor, James Brolin, born in Los Angeles, California. The star also worked as a producer and was known for movies like 1973's "Westworld," 1979's "The Amityville Horror," and 2000's "Traffic."

On July 1, 1998, James married his third and current wife, Barbra Streisand. His first wife was Jane Cameron Agee, who also happened to be Josh's mother, and his second was Jan Smithers.

James Brolin, Jane Cameron Agee, and Josh Brolin in a "Home Layout" feature with the airdate of October 1, 1969. | Source: Getty Images


James and Agee tied the knot on October 16, 1966, before their relationship ended in divorce in October 1986. The aspiring casting agent and actress was the one who filed for divorce from her husband when Josh was 16.

Besides Josh, Agee also shared a daughter with James, whom they named Jess Brolin. James' first ex-wife worked for the state's Department of Fish and Game and took in illegally owned and rescued wild animals.

James Brolin and Jane Cameron Agee at a James Brown concert on March 18, 1971, at the Copacabana in New York City. | Source: Getty Images


Josh once recalled how his late mother had an "uncanny relationship with animals." In 2008, James' son revealed that his parents kept him and his sister out of the spotlight, with their nearest neighbor living a mile down the road from them.

Josh only experienced his father's fame when he left home. Growing up in Paso Robles, on a 100-acre ranch, Agee's son was exposed to all sorts of animals, like gorillas, mountain lions, chimpanzees, and so much more, because of his mother's job.

James and Josh Brolin at the Second Annual National Easter Seals Telethon on April 7, 1973, in Hollywood, California. | Source: Getty Images


Josh recalled how Agee could confront 500-pound silverbacks and make them crumble around her presence. He also described her as "very irresponsible," as she had her children doing chores at age six with the animals around.

Josh said his mother would rationalize her behavior by saying, "We're here for a short time, so let's do it." Agee was also described as a hard woman who expected her children to learn to read within five minutes!

Despite her shortcomings, Josh still liked who his mother was and what she represented. When Streisand became his stepmother, she and James tried to give Josh and Jess a normal upbringing.



James Brolin and Jane Cameron Agee at the Second Annual People's Choice Awards on February 19, 1976, in Santa Monica, California. | Source: Getty Images

On his 27th birthday, Josh's mother crashed into a tree and sadly passed away the following day. Before she died, the actor had written about her and did the same after her passing because Agee stayed on his mind.


During a previous Men's Journal interview, Josh confessed that he found it uncanny that his mother would have an accident on his birthday. He explained how his father thought Agee was avoiding a deer when she crashed.

Josh Brolin at the "I Shot Andy Warhol" Hollywood, California premiere on May 16, 1996. | Source: Getty Images


However, his mother was a drinker and had pulled a rifle on her boyfriend that same night before going after him. Josh's theory was that Agee reached for her phone and "overcompensated" before crashing.

Sadly, the star didn't get to speak to her that day before the accident, even though he usually called her and sent flowers on his birthday. He would thank his mother for giving him life.

James Brolin, Jane Cameron Agee, and Josh Brolin in a "Home Layout" feature with the airdate of October 1, 1969. | Source: Getty Images


Josh recalled how he'd sent the flowers earlier but hadn't called while in New York because the day hadn't ended. Agee called him but got his answering machine where he'd left a message to trick callers, making them think he had picked up.

So his mother left a message asking him what was up and that she couldn't hear him well before asking who she was speaking to. When Agee realized what was happening, she laughed hysterically, and four hours later, she was gone.

Jane Cameron Agee at the 29th Annual Golden Globe Awards on February 6, 1972. | Source: Getty Images


Josh kept that last message in storage and eventually put it away because he kept listening to it. He confessed that he'd adored his mother, who died on February 13, 1995, in Templeton, California, and still missed her terribly.

Agee was featured in her former friend, Sondra Locke's 1997 autobiography "The Good, the Bad and the Very Ugly." In it, she was painted as an alcoholic who caused her troubles, but no mention was made of her death.


Josh Brolin and Kathryn Boyd at the premiere of "Only the Brave" on October 8, 2017, in Westwood, California. | Source: Getty Images


During the April 2022 "Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard" podcast interview, the "Goonies" actor revealed that he and his mother were quite close and were drinking buddies. However, the relationship made him feel like his mother's surrogate husband.

He felt like if he did certain things with her, he remained her star. His mother set the tone that "you gotta be here, now," and there were no processes allowed, and losing her was the "worst thing that ever happened" to him but also the most "liberating."


It was liberating because Josh didn't need to continue going down the alcoholic road and finally got sober. He initially reacted to Agee's death but eventually started getting himself back and later got married and had children.

Two years after her death, the actor found himself lost and spinning out of control. He recalled a time when he was in jail, and his mother came to see him, and when he got to her, she was smiling.


That smile showed him that Agee's love for him was conditional, and he spent his days trying to recreate it by putting himself in self-destructive positions. Josh loved being around his mother, but after her death, he didn't have to live up to her expectations.

That's how he became liberated and finally started to mature. Losing his mother propelled him to start making some serious considerations about the direction his life was going, with him stating:

"When my mother died it brought it all home, magnified everything. 'What do I want to do? Where do I want to go?'"


Josh learned to appreciate how fickle life was, and he feared that he hadn't done enough or things to be proud of in his life. In March 2014, the "W" actor spoke to The Guardian about how his mother's death affected him.

The Grammy Award-winning singer [Barbra Streisand] also made time to celebrate Josh’s [Brolin] special moments.

He said it made him think of many things as he was always a momma's boy. James's son knew he had to change, and it felt like he'd stepped back after being on a hamster wheel.



After losing his mother, Josh was able to have a healthier parent/son relationship with his stepmother, Streisand. Fans have gotten glimpses of how close the pair have become with public displays of affection and social media posts.

The "Avengers" actor loves spending quality time with Streisand and his father as he lives close to them. Josh and his wife, Kathryn, often visited James and his wife, and even the COVID-19 pandemic couldn't keep them apart.


Josh and his family once went to James's house after being away from them for a few months and even shared a family photo on social media. During Kathryn's pregnancies, Streisand would call, suggest baby names, and ask to feel her baby bumps!

The actress, who's been married to James for 24 years, even bought her grandchildren gifts and didn't mind babysitting from time to time. The Grammy Award-winning singer also made time to celebrate Josh's special moments.

In 2010 she and her husband went with Josh to the screening of "Jonah Hex," where they took adorable images together. She was also present at the premiere of her stepson's 2018 movie "Sicario: Day of the Soldado."