Thayer David

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Thayer David
Born David Thayer Hersey
(1927-03-04)March 4, 1927
Medford, Massachusetts, U.S.
Died July 17, 1978(1978-07-17) (aged 51)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Cause of death
heart attack
Years active 1950-1975
Spouse(s) Valerie French (1970-1975)

Thayer David (born David Thayer Hersey, March 4, 1927 – July 17, 1978) was a film, stage and television actor. He was best known for his work on the cult ABC serial Dark Shadows (1966–1971) and as the fight promoter George Jergens in the Oscar-winning movie Rocky (1976). He also appeared as Count Arne Saknussemm in the film Journey to the Center of the Earth in 1959. His raspy distinctive voice narrated many voice-overs in commercials and instructional films.

Early life[edit]

Thayer David was born March 4, 1927, in Medford, Massachusetts. His father, Thayer Frye Hersey, was an executive in the paper pulp industry. David attended Harvard University in the 1940s but did not graduate, concentrating instead upon a career on the stage. With financial support from his father, he co-founded the Brattle Theater Company (1948–1952) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and established himself in the professional theatre.[1][2]

Stage career[edit]

He went on to act in The Relapse 1950 (Sir Tunbelly Clumsey);The Taming of the Shrew 1951 (Grumio); The Way of the World 1954 (Petulant); The Carefree Tree 1955 (The Sixth Son); King Lear 1956 (Duke of Cornwall); Mister Johnson 1956 (Gollup); Saint Joan 1956 (The Inquisitor); Protective Custody 1956 (Dr. Steidl); Oscar Wilde 1957 (Oscar Wilde); The Golden Six 1958 (Tiberius); A Man for All Seasons 1961 (Cardinal Wolsey); Andorra 1963 (pub keeper); The Seagull 1964 (Sorin); The Crucible 1964 (Danforth); Baker Street 1965 (Moriarty); The Royal Hunt of the Sun 1965 (Miguel Estete); Ring Round the Moon 1966 (Messerchann); Those That Play the Clowns 1966 (Henning); Breakfast at Tiffany's 1966 (Rusty Trawler); The Sorrows of Frederick 1967; The Bench 1968 (Phillipi); Uncle Vanya 1971 (Serebryakov); The Jockey Club Stakes 1973 (Sir Dymock Blackburn); The Dogs of Pavlov 1974.

Film and television[edit]

He played Count Saknussem in the 1959 release of Journey to the Centre of the Earth. From 1966 to 1971, David portrayed various characters on ABC's daytime phenomenon Dark Shadows. His roles on Dark Shadows were Matthew Morgan, Ben Stokes, Professor T. Elliot Stokes, Sandor Rakoski, Count Petofi, Timothy Stokes PT, Mordecai Grimes, and Ben Stokes PT. He also played Reverend Silas Pendrake in Little Big Man (1970), the arsonist in Save the Tiger (1973), the afflicted spymaster Dragon in The Eiger Sanction (1975) with Clint Eastwood, and fight promoter Miles Jurgens in Rocky (1976). He played numerous characters on different TV series including The Wild Wild West, The Rockford Files, Columbo, Ellery Queen, Kojak, Petrocelli, Charlie's Angels and Hawaii Five-O. David did several pilot films which included a villainous role in The Amazing Spider-Man (1977).

In 1977, Thayer David played the title role in Nero Wolfe, Paramount Television's made-for-TV movie based on the Rex Stout novel The Doorbell Rang. David portrayed the corpulent detective Nero Wolfe, who took on clients grudgingly and solved mysteries dazzlingly. Intended to be the pilot for a series, the film was shelved by ABC. It eventually aired December 18, 1979, 17 months after David's death.[3]

Personal life[edit]

A resident of Manhattan, Thayer David collected walking sticks, 18th-century European landscape paintings and Victorian furniture.[4] "He was the most widely educated and best-read actor I've ever encountered," said Frank D. Gilroy, who wrote and directed the 1977 TV movie Nero Wolfe.[5] His fellow cast members on Dark Shadows remembered him as a "walking encyclopedia" around the studio.[citation needed]

He was married to and divorced from film and television actress Valerie French.[6]

Thayer David died July 17, 1978, from a heart attack in New York City at the age of 51.[7] He and his former wife Valerie French were planning to remarry before he died.[8]

Further reading[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Pace, Eric, "Thayer David Dead; A Character Actor"; The New York Times, July 20, 1978
  2. ^ Brattle Theatre, The First Hundred Years' retrieved October 4, 2011
  3. ^ Terrace, Vincent, Television 1970–1980. San Diego, California: A.S. Barnes & Company, 1981, ISBN 0-498-02539-X page 266
  4. ^ Pace, Eric, "Thayer David Dead: A Character Actor"; The New York Times, July 20, 1978
  5. ^ Gilroy, Frank D., I Wake Up Screening. Carbondale, Illinois: Southern Illinois University Press, 1993, ISBN 0-8093-1856-3 page 147
  6. ^ Collins, Glenn, "Valerie French, 59, Actress Who Played English Characters"; The New York Times, November 6, 1990
  7. ^ Pace, Eric, "Thayer David Dead; A Character Actor"; The New York Times, July 20, 1978
  8. ^ Collins, Glenn, "Valerie French, 59, Actress Who Played English Characters"; The New York Times, November 6, 1990

External links[edit]