Diane Brewster

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Diane Brewster
Diane Brewster James Garner Maverick 1957.JPG
With James Garner in Maverick (1957)
Born Diane Brewster
(1931-03-11)March 11, 1931
Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.
Died November 12, 1991(1991-11-12) (aged 60)
Studio City, California, U.S.
Cause of death
Heart failure
Resting place
ashes scattered in Pacific Ocean
Years active 1952–1986
Height 5' 6"
Spouse(s) Jabe Z. Walker
(married, 1959–1991; her death
Diane Brewster in The Dakotas (1963)
Credited (in error) as Diana Brewster in the credits for the pilot of Leave It to Beaver.

Diane Brewster (March 11, 1931 – November 12, 1991) was an American television actress most noted for playing three distinctively different roles in television series of the 1950s and 1960s: confidence trickster Samantha Crawford in the western Maverick; pretty young second-grade teacher Miss Canfield in Leave It to Beaver; and doomed wife Helen Kimble in The Fugitive.

Background[edit]

She was a direct descendant of Pilgrim Elder William Brewster, Governor of Plymouth Colony William Bradford, and 18th-century American poet and writer Martha Wadsworth Brewster.

Brewster and her husband, Dr. Jabe Walker, an oral surgeon, had a son, Dean C. Walker (born March 29, 1960) and a daughter, Lynn D. Walker (born July 25, 1961). Both children were born in Los Angeles, California. Jabe Z. Walker died in February 2013.[1]

Career[edit]

On Maverick, Brewster's character is a gorgeous gambling con artist who often fakes a southern accent but is ultimately likable. Brewster first played the character in a 1956 episode of Cheyenne entitled "Dark Rider" before appearing opposite James Garner in the third episode of Maverick, "According to Hoyle." Brewster's other Maverick appearances include "The Savage Hills" with Jack Kelly, "The Seventh Hand" with Garner, and the famous "Shady Deal at Sunny Acres" with both Kelly and Garner. Including the Cheyenne episode, Brewster played Samantha Crawford only five times, with her last appearance coming in 1958, but she made an indelible impression on critics and viewers. Jodie Foster's character in the 1994 movie is based on Brewster's Samantha Crawford.[citation needed]

Brewster portrayed the grade school teacher Miss Canfield on Leave It to Beaver for the first season on CBS in 1957-1958 and for the 1980s television revivals. Brewster appeared in the show's pilot, "It's a Small World," as Miss Simms, a secretary with a dairy company, and in four regular season episodes as Miss Canfield.[2] In Episode 1 she appears in the credits as 'Diana' Brewster, a mistake which was corrected in her next appearance in Episode 8.[3] Brewster was replaced by Sue Randall as "Miss Landers" on the second season of Leave It to Beaver.

On January 31, 1959, Brewster played a similar role to that of Samantha Crawford in ABC's Maverick, as Lisa Caldwell in the episode "Runaway Train" of NBC's Cimarron City western television series; George Montgomery, as Mayor Matt Rockford, falls in love with Lisa while they are traveling on a train carrying a group of prisoners. A man from Lisa's past, played by Lyle Talbot, is also aboard and complicates Rockford's pursuit of Lisa. It is revealed that Lisa is a professional gambler from St. Louis, Missouri, who had shot to death a man who had been threatening her. She then fled by train with plans to reach Denver, Colorado.[4]

Also in 1959, Brewster made a rare motion picture appearance in The Young Philadelphians playing the mother of Paul Newman and love interest of Brian Keith

Brewster made almost fifty appearances in various other television and film roles, including episodes of Brian Keith's CBS Cold War drama Crusader, as Amy Winter in the CBS western Wanted: Dead or Alive episode "Double Fee" opposite Steve McQueen, and in Wendell Corey's drama series, Harbor Command. In 1959, she played Ronald Reagan's character's wife in an installment of the General Electric Theatre anthology series entitled "Nobody's Child," and portrayed Marian Dell in the episode "Law of the Badlands" of the syndicated western series Frontier Doctor starring Rex Allen.

In 1960, Brewster had a starring role as Wilhelmina "Steamboat Willy" Vanderveer in The Islanders, an hour-long adventure series set in the South Pacific, with William Reynolds and James Philbrook. That same year, she also portrayed the titular role in "The Lita Foladaire Story," an episode of Wagon Train with Ward Bond and silent film star Evelyn Brent, in which Brewster's character had been killed before the start of the show, with her sections of the story posthumously depicted in flashbacks. Under the circumstances, she and series lead Bond had no scenes together despite being the episode's two lead actors dividing most of the screen time.

She subsequently guest starred on NBC's modern western series, Empire in 1962, in the 1963 "Fargo" episode of The Dakotas, the role of Andrea Walden in the 1963 Perry Mason episode, "The Case of the Potted Planter," and in the premiere in 1964 of Dennis Weaver's NBC sitcom, Kentucky Jones. As a favor to Roy Huggins, Brewster appeared several times in flashbacks, uncredited, as the murdered wife, Helen Kimble, in Huggins' ABC series The Fugitive. She appeared in a 1966 episode of Family Affair and an installment of Ironside in 1968 before retiring until the 1980s television movie revivals of Leave It to Beaver and four episodes of the series The New Leave It to Beaver.

Diane Brewster died from heart failure in 1991 at sixty years of age.

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