Brandon deWilde

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Brandon deWilde
Brandon deWilde early 1950s.JPG
In the television program Jamie.
Born Andre Brandon deWilde
(1942-04-09)April 9, 1942
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Died July 6, 1972(1972-07-06) (aged 30)
Denver, Colorado, U.S.
Cause of death
Motor vehicle accident
Resting place
Pinelawn Memorial Park
GPS: 40.451264 - 73.232000
Occupation Actor
Years active 1950–72
Notable work(s) The Member of the Wedding, Shane, Blue Denim, Hud
Spouse(s)

Susan M. Maw (m. 1963; div. 1969)

Janice Gero (m. 1972–72)
Children 1 (son, Jesse)

Andre Brandon deWilde (April 9, 1942 – July 6, 1972) was an American theatre, film and television actor.[1] Born into a theatrical family in Brooklyn, he debuted on Broadway at the age of 7 and became a national phenomenon by the time he completed his 492 performances for The Member of the Wedding.[2][3]

Before the age of 12, he had become the first child actor awarded the Donaldson Award, filmed his role in The Member of the Wedding, starred in his most memorable film role as Joey Starrett in the film Shane (1953), been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, starred in his own sitcom Jamie on ABC and became a household name making numerous radio and TV appearances before being featured on the cover of Life magazine on March 10, 1952, for his second Broadway outing Mrs. McThing.[2][3]

He continued acting in stage, film and television role into adulthood before his death at age 30 in a motor vehicle accident in Colorado on July 6, 1972.[3]

Early life[edit]

Andre Brandon deWilde was the son of Frederic A. "Fritz" deWilde and Eugenia (née Wilson) deWilde.[3] Fritz deWilde was the only son of Dutch immigrants who changed their surname from Neitzel-deWilde to "deWilde" when they emigrated to the United States. He became an actor and Broadway production stage manager. Eugenia was a part-time stage actress.[3]

After deWilde's birth, the family moved from Brooklyn to Baldwin, Long Island.

Career[edit]

Acting[edit]

DeWilde made his much-acclaimed Broadway debut at the age of 7 in The Member of the Wedding, was the first child actor to win the Donaldson Award and his talent was praised by John Gielgud the following year. He also starred in the 1952 film version directed by Fred Zinnemann.[4]

In 1952 deWilde acted in the film Shane as Joey Starrett and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance, becoming the youngest nominee for the time in a competitive category. He had the lead role in his own television series, Jamie which aired from 1953 to 1954. Although the series was popular, it was cancelled due to a contract dispute.[3] In 1956 he was featured with Walter Brennan, Phil Harris, and Sidney Poitier in the coming-of-age Batjac movie production of Good-bye, My Lady, adapted from James Street's book. This movie showcased the then-rare dog breed Basenji, the African barkless dog, to American audiences.

Brooklyn-born, deWilde's soft-spoken manner of speech in his early roles was more akin to a Southern drawl. In 1956 (at age 14) deWilde narrated classical music works Peter and the Wolf by Sergei Prokofiev and The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra by Benjamin Britten. He also, with his Good-bye, My Lady co-star, Walter Brennan, did a Huckleberry Finn reading in the album The Stories of Mark Twain. All three have been released as MP3 downloads.

DeWilde shared an on-screen camaraderie with both James Stewart and Audie Murphy in the 1957 western Night Passage. In 1958 deWilde continued his career starring in The Missouri Traveler sharing lead billing with Lee Marvin in another coming-of-age film, this one set in the early 1900s. He made a mark onscreen at age 17 as an adolescent father in the 1959 drama Blue Denim, co-starring Carol Lynley, with the then mature theme of abortion, even though the word is never used in the film.

In 1961, deWilde appeared in the Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode "The Sorcerer's Apprentice". He portrayed Hugo, a retarded youth who could not separate fact from fantasy. After seeing a magician saw a woman in half at a carnival, Hugo emulates the trick and kills a girl by sawing her in half. The episode never aired on NBC because the finale was deemed "too gruesome" by 1960s television standards. The episode was included in Alfred Hitchcock Presents syndication and was released in public-domain VHS, DVD and video on demand releases.[5]

The following year, deWilde appeared in All Fall Down, opposite Warren Beatty and Eva Marie Saint, and in Martin Ritt's Hud (1963) co-starring with Paul Newman, Patricia Neal and Melvyn Douglas. Although the only lead actor not to be Oscar-nominated for Hud, deWilde accepted the Best Supporting Actor trophy on behalf of co-star Melvyn Douglas (who was in Israel at the time).[6] That same year, he appeared on Jack Palance's ABC circus drama, The Greatest Show on Earth.

DeWilde signed a two-picture deal with Disney in 1964. He first starred in The Tenderfoot, a 3-part comedy Western for Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color TV show with Brian Keith. The following year he and Keith did Those Calloways for theatrical release, reuniting deWilde with his Good-bye, My Lady star Walter Brennan. Also in 1965, deWilde filmed a performance as Jere Torry, the screen son of John Wayne in In Harm's Way (1965).

DeWilde with Arthur Kennedy in "The Confession" on 'ABC Stage 67 in 1966.

After 1965, many of his roles were limited to television guest appearances. "Being small for his age and a bit too pretty ... in his favour as a child ... worked against him as an adult", wrote author Linda Ashcroft after talking with deWilde at a party. "He spoke of giving up movies until he could come back as a forty-year-old character actor".[7] DeWilde's final western role was in Dino De Laurentiis' 1971 spaghetti western The Deserter, one year before his death.[8] He played adjutant Lieutenant Ferguson who meets with an untimely end. He made his last screen appearance in Wild In The Sky (1972).

Music[edit]

DeWilde had hoped to embark on a music career. He asked his friend, Gram Parsons (of The Byrds), and his band at the time, International Submarine Band, to back him in a recording session. ISB guitarist, John Nuese, claimed that deWilde sang harmony with Parsons better than anyone except Emmylou Harris and bassist Ian Dunlop wrote, "The lure of getting a record out was tugging hard at Brandon."[9]

Parsons and Harris later co-wrote a song entitled "In My Hour Of Darkness", whose first verse refers to the car accident that killed deWilde.[10]

Personal life[edit]

DeWilde was married twice and had one son. His first marriage was to writer Susan M. Maw, who he married in 1963. The couple had a son, Jesse, before divorcing in 1969.[11] He married his second wife, Janice Gero, in April 1972.[12]

Death[edit]

DeWilde died from injuries he sustained in a traffic accident in the Denver suburb of Lakewood on July 6, 1972. The accident occurred at about 3:25 p.m. DeWilde was driving a camper van on W. 6th Ave. near Kipling St. when it went off the street, struck a guardrail, then struck a flatbed truck used to install guardrails. It was raining lightly at the time of the accident. He was alone in his vehicle and not wearing a seat belt. The camper van rolled onto its side, pinning him in the wreckage. DeWilde was taken to St. Anthony Hospital where he died at 7:20 p.m. of multiple injuries including a broken back, neck, and leg.[13][14][15]

DeWilde had been in Denver for a stage production of Butterflies Are Free, with Maureen O'Sullivan and Karen Grassle at the Elitch Theatre, which ended its run on July 1.[13] At the time of the accident, deWilde had been en route to visit his second wife, Janice, who was a patient at Colorado General Hospital. He was survived by a son, Jesse, from his first marriage and his second wife.[12]

He was originally buried in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, but his parents later moved his remains to Pinelawn Memorial Park in Farmingdale, New York, to be closer to their home on Long Island. Frederic deWilde died in 1980 and Eugenia deWilde died in 1987.

Filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1951 to 1952 The Philco Television Playhouse 2 episodes
1952 The Member of the Wedding John Henry
1953 Shane Joey Starrett Nominated: Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
1953 to 1954 Jamie Jamie McHummer 22 episodes
1955 to 1956 Climax! Robbie Eunson
Tip Malone
2 episodes
1956 Good-bye, My Lady Skeeter
1956 Screen Director's Playhouse Terry Johnson Episode: "Partners"
1957 Night Passage Joey Adams
1958 The Missouri Traveler Biarn Turner
1957 The United States Steel Hour David Episode: "The Locked Door"
1959 Alcoa Theatre George Adams Episode: "Man of His House"
1959 Blue Denim Arthur Bartley Alternative title: Blue Jeans
1959 to 1961 Wagon Train Danny Benedict
Mark Miner
2 episodes
1961 Thriller Tim Branner Episode: "Pigeons from Hell"
1961 Alfred Hitchcock Presents Hugo Episode: "The Sorcerer's Apprentice"
1962 All Fall Down Clinton Willart
1962 to 1970 The Virginian Various 3 episodes
1963 Hud Lon "Lonnie" Bannon
1963 The Nurses Paul Marker Episode: "Ordeal"
1964 The Greatest Show on Earth Vic Hawkins Episode: "Love the Giver"
1964 The Wonderful World of Disney Jim Tevis 3 episodes
1964 12 O'Clock High Cpl. Ross Lawrence Episode: Here's to Courageous Cowards"
1965 Those Calloways Bucky Calloway
1965 In Harm's Way Ens. Jeremiah "Jere" Torrey
1965 The Defenders Roger Bailey, Jr. Episode: "The Objector"
1966 Combat! Wilder Episode: "A Sudden Terror"
1966 ABC Stage 67 Carl Boyer Episode: "The Confession"
1967 The Trip Extra Uncredited
1969 The Name of the Game Bobby Currier Episode: "The Bobby Currier Story"
1969 Journey to the Unknown Alec Worthing 1 episode
1969 Hawaii Five-O
Arnold Potter Episode: "King Kamehameha Blues"
1969 Love, American Style Jimmy Devlin Segment: "Love and the Bachelor"
1970 Insight Weissberg Episode: "Confrontation"
1970 The Young Rebels Young Nathan Hale Episode: "To Hang a Hero"
1971 The Deserter Lieutenant Ferguson Alternative titles: The Devil's Backbone
Ride to Glory
1971 Night Gallery Johnson Episode: "Death in the Family/The Merciful/Class of '99/Witches' Feast"
1971 Ironside George Whittaker Episode: "In the Line of Duty"
1972 Wild in the Sky Josh Alternative titles: Black Jack
God Bless the Bomb

Awards[edit]

Year Organization Result Category Production
1949-50 Donaldson Awards Won Best Male Debut The Member of the Wedding (play)
1953 Academy Awards Nominated Best Supporting Actor Shane
1954 Golden Globe Awards Won Juvenile Performance The Member of the Wedding (film)

In popular culture[edit]

Books[edit]

On Christmas Day 2011 it was announced that author, Patrisha McLean, to coincide with the 2012 70th anniversary of his deWilde's birth and 40th anniversary of his death, would release a biography of Brandon deWilde that had sat "shelved" for the previous 25 years. Updated to include 2012 interviews with deWilde's widow, Janice Gero deWilde, All Fall Down, The Brandon deWilde Story was released on June 19, 2012.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Obituary Variety, July 12, 1972.
  2. ^ a b "Brandon de Wilde, 30, Is Killed In Traffic Accident in Colorado". The New York Times. July 7, 1972. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Aylesworth, Thomas G., Hollywood Kids c. 1987, E. P. Dutton, New York, NY, ISBN 0-525-24562-6 (pp. 233–235)
  4. ^ Lillian and Helen Ross, The Player: A Profile of an Art, c. 1961, New York, NY. "Brandon De Wilde," p. 43 First Limelight Edition, 1984
  5. ^ Grams, Martin and Patrik Winstrom, The Alfred Hitchcock Presents Companion c. 2001, OTR Publishing, Churchville, MD, ISBN 0-9703310-1-0 (pp. 385–388)
  6. ^ Parker, Vernon. "On This Day in History, April 9: Gifted Young Brooklynite". brooklyneagle.com. 
  7. ^ Ashcroft, Linda, Wild Child: Life With Jim Morrison c. 1997, Thunder's Mouth Press, New York, NY, Da Capo Press, c. 1999, ISBN 1-56025-249-9
  8. ^ Wildest Westerns Magazine
  9. ^ Remembering Brandon.net/Jamming With Brandon
  10. ^ Hoskyns, Barney (2009). Waiting for the Sun: A Rock 'n' Roll History of Los Angeles. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 223. ISBN 0-879-30943-1. 
  11. ^ "De Wilde Sued". The Tuscaloosa News. March 23, 1969. p. 36. 
  12. ^ a b "De Wilde Known for 'Shane'". The Denver Post. July 7, 1972. p. 37. 
  13. ^ a b "Lakewood Wreck Claims Actor". The Denver Post. July 7, 1972. p. 3. 
  14. ^ "Brandon deWilde Dies in Accident". The Times-News. July 7, 1972. p. 3. 
  15. ^ "Accident claims film, stage actor Brandon de Wilde". The Bulletin. July 7, 1972. p. 7. 

External links[edit]