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General information  

  • Date of birth : 14/11/1921
  • Place of death : Malibu
  • Date of death : 14/11/1921

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  • Keith Brian
  • Robert Keith Jr.

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Brian Keith (1921)

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  Summary  

Brian Keith (November 14, 1921 – June 24, 1997) was an American film, television, and stage actor who in his four decade-long career gained recognition for his work in movies such as the 1961 Disney family film The Parent Trap, the 1966 comedy The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming, and the 1975 adventure saga The Wind and the Lion, in which he portrayed Theodore Roosevelt.

On television, two of his best known roles were that of a widowed uncle turned bachelor: Bill Davis, in the 1960s sitcom Family Affair, and a tough judge in the 1980s drama Hardcastle and McCormick. He also starred in the The Brian Keith Show that aired on NBC from 1972 to 1974 where he portrayed a pediatrician who operated a free clinic on Oahu as well as in the short-lived TV comedy Heartland .

  Biography  

 early life
Keith was born Robert Alba Keith in Newark's suburb of Bayonne, New Jersey, to actor Robert Keith and stage actress Helena Shipman, a native of Aberdeen, Washington. Some sources also list his full name as Brian Robert Keith. He was raised Roman Catholic. His parents divorced, and he moved to Hollywood and started his acting career, at the age of 2. He made his acting debut in the silent film Pied Piper Malone at the age of 3. His mother continued to perform on stage and radio, while Robert's grandmother Apker helped to raise him on Long Island, New York, just 37 miles east of where he was born. She taught young Brian to read books over his age level. Prior to learning to read, he spent a lot of hours back stage while his parents performed, being quiet for hours. Helena fondly recalled keeping little Brian in the dressing room in one of her dressing room drawers. He remained calm and was quiet and would sleep through the entire show. From 1927 through 1929, Keith's stepmother was Peg Entwistle, a well-known Broadway actress who committed suicide by jumping from the "H" of the famous Hollywood Sign in 1932.

After graduation from East Rockaway High School in 1939, in East Rockaway, New York, he joined the United States Marine Corps (1942–1945). He served during World War II as an air gunner (he was a Radio-Gunner in the rear cockpit of a two-man Douglas SBD Dauntless dive-bomber in a U.S. Marine squadron), and received an Air Medal.

 career
After the war, Keith became a stage actor, branching out into films and then television. In 1952, he made his debut on three episodes of Tales of Tomorrow. These three episodes had led him to other roles such as Police Story, a 1950s anthology show, Eye Witness, The United States Steel Hour, Robert Montgomery Presents, The Motorola Television Hour, Campbell Playhouse, The Pepsi-Cola Playhouse, The Elgin Hour, The Adventures of Ellery Queen, and Jane Wyman Presents: The Fireside Theatre. In 1955, Keith starred in his own series, Crusader, as the fictional journalist Matt Anders, who tries to free captive peoples from communist countries.

During the 1950s and 1960s, Keith also had guest roles on The Ford Television Theatre, Wire Service, Climax!, Zane Grey Theater, Rawhide, Laramie, The Untouchables, The Americans, Outlaws, The Virginian, The Fugitive, two episodes of Wagon Train, five episodes of 77 Sunset Strip, among many others.

In 1960, he won acclaim for his starring role in Sam Peckinpah's short-lived series The Westerner . The following year, Keith appeared as the father of twins in the 1961 film The Parent Trap, co-starring Hayley Mills and Maureen O'Hara. In 1966, Keith co-starred with Steve McQueen as traveling gunsmith Jonas Cord in the western Nevada Smith.

 Family Affair
Also in 1966, Keith landed the role of Uncle Bill Davis on CBS's popular television situation comedy Family Affair. This role earned him three Emmy Award nominations for Best Actor in a Comedy Series. The show made him a household name. It was also the answer to such successful 1960s and 1970s sitcoms that dealt with widowhood and/or many single parent issues such as: The Andy Griffith Show, My Three Sons, The Beverly Hillbillies, Petticoat Junction, Here's Lucy, Julia, The Courtship of Eddie's Father, The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family and Sanford And Son. During its first season in 1966, the show was an immediate hit, ranking #15 in the Nielsen ratings.

By the end of its fifth season in 1971, Family Affair still had high ratings, but was canceled after 138 episodes.

 Other roles
Keith went on to star as the pediatrician Dr. Sean Jamison in the NBC sitcom The Brian Keith Show, filmed in Hawaii on an estate at the foot of Diamond Head and also known as The Little People. The series was canceled after two seasons in 1974.

Keith once again returned to series television in 1983 with, Hardcastle and McCormick, the latter in the role of a cranky retired judge named Milton C. Hardcastle. Daniel Hugh Kelly co-starred as ex-con Mark McCormick in the ABC crime drama with elements of comedy. The chemistry of Keith & Kelly were both a hit and the series lasted three years until its cancellation in 1986.

Keith also starred in the role of Steven "The Fox" Halliday in the six-part television miniseries, The Zoo Gang, about a group of former underground freedom fighters from World War II. The show also starred Sir John Mills, Lilli Palmer, and Barry Morse.

Keith spoke fluent Russian, which led to his casting as a Russian in two roles: the Soviet Premier in 'World War III' with Rock Hudson; and as a Soviet scientist in Meteor with Natalie Wood. In The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming, where he played the unexcitable police chief of an island where a Soviet submarine runs aground, however, his character had to have Russian translated to him by Alan Arkin's character.

In his last film, Keith played President William McKinley in Rough Riders . Director John Milius dedicated Rough Riders to "Brian Keith, Actor, Marine, Raconteur."

 personal life
Keith married three times, first to Frances Helm; then, in 1954, to actress Judy Landon ; and finally, in 1970, to Hawaiian actress Victoria Young (née Leialoha), who later appeared on The Brian Keith Show as Nurse Puni.

Keith fathered four children with Judy Landon and together they adopted three others. Daisy Keith, one of his children with Victoria Young, became an actress and appeared with her father in the short-lived series Heartland in 1989.

 death
During the later part of his life, Keith suffered from emphysema and lung cancer despite having quit smoking ten years earlier . On June 24, 1997, he was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Malibu, California, two months after his daughter Daisy committed suicide. It was also reported that he had financial problems and suffered from depression throughout his final days. Keith's family was joined by many mourners at a private funeral, including Family Affair co-stars Johnny Whitaker and Kathy Garver, and Hardcastle & McCormick co-star Daniel Hugh Kelly.

His remains are buried next to those of his daughter Daisy at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, California.

On June 26, 2008, Brian Keith received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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  • Heyday
  • Mister Roberts
  • Darkness at Noon
  • Da

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Brian Keith", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.