In 1967, he appeared in the now-classic western movie Hombre, in which he was featured with Paul Newman, Richard Boone, and Cameron Mitchell. Canary guest starred in a two-part episode of CBS's Gunsmoke entitled "Nitro", played a mobster with Jason Robards in the film The St. Valentine's Day Massacre, and appeared on the short-lived CBS western Dundee and the Culhane.
A contract dispute that year between Leonard Nimoy and the producers of Star Trek forced Herb Solow, Robert H. Justman and Gene Roddenberry to compile a list of candidates for consideration to takeover the role of Mr. Spock. As revealed in Solow and Justman's book, Star Trek - The Inside Story, Canary was one of the "A List" candidates.
When David Dortort (Bonanza, The High Chaparral, The Cowboys creator/producer), was looking for a new foreman for the Ponderosa Ranch, he saw Canary in Hombre and cast him in the role because Canary was "the kind of kid who comes on and suddenly there's nobody else on the screen". Canary left Bonanza in June 1970 after a contract dispute. He returned after Dan Blocker's death in May 1972. Canary said that he loved Bonanza, except for filming in Nevada in 100-degree heat.
Canary appeared on Broadway with Colleen Dewhurst in Great Day In The Morning and with Geraldine Page in Tennessee Williams' Clothes For A Summer Horse. He has done numerous musical/stage roles in shows such as Kismet, Man Of La Mancha, and The Fantastics, as well as dramatic performances in The Seagull and Macbeth.
David's first daytime television role was on Search for Tomorrow where he played the short-term role of Liza Walton's agent. He had two short stints on The Doctors as Far Wind, a Jim Jones like cult leader who took the hospital staff hostage, killing the character of Melissa Dancy (Dorian Lo Pinto) in the process.
In 1981, he assumed the role of Steve Frame on the soap opera Another World. However, the effort to revive the Steve/Alice/Rachel triangle was largely unsuccessful, and Canary left the show in 1983 after the character of Steve Frame was killed off in a car crash.
On New Year's Eve 1983, he joined the cast of All My Children in the role of the cunning Adam Chandler. That following year, he was also cast as Adam's meek twin brother, Stuart whom everybody at first (including the audience) believed was Adam. The actor brought several facets to the twins, portraying the impeccably dressed Adam as a cut-throat businessman and the big-hearted, guileless Stuart (who was originally deranged and attempted to kill Palmer Cortlandt after falsely believing had caused their sister to commit suicide) appearing with mussed hair, loud sweaters, hiked pants and an occasional droopy sock. One familiar publicity shot of the character shows him with one shirt collar under his sweater and the other collar over the sweater. In May 2009, Adam accidentally shot and killed Stuart while using prescribed narcotics. Canary retired from full-time acting and departed from All My Children in April 2010 (last taping in late March and last airing April 23, 2010). Adam left Pine Valley to regain both his health and the love of Brooke English (Julia Barr), an ex-wife.
Other prime-time television guest appearances include: Law & Order, Touched by an Angel, S.W.A.T., Primas, Alias Smith and Jones, Police Story, Kung-Fu, Hawaii Five-O, Remember WENN, and Cimarron Strip. The actor also appeared as the locomotive engineer in the movie Atomic Train. In 2004, he appeared as mathematical genius Robert in a well-reviewed production of David Auburn's Proof in Canton, Ohio, near his hometown of Massillon.
Canary has been known to be most affable and accessible to fans of both All My Children and Bonanza. At Disney resorts, he has done "meet and greet" appearances signing autographs for AMC fans. The actor has also made several appearances at the Lake Tahoe site of the Ponderosa ranch, a tourist attraction from 1967-2004. His last appearance at the Ponderosa ranch, as Candy, was in 2002 for a PAX-TV special.
When Canary departed the soap, he had stated he intended to return to AMC occasionally. Canary returned to All My Children to reprise both of his roles as Adam and Stuart Chandler for several days before its September 23, 2011, finale on ABC. In 2013, he returned to the role of Adam when the show began to produce online episodes.
|1967||The St. Valentine's Day Massacre||Frank Gusenberg|
|1969||The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes||Mr. Walski|
|1973||Incident on a Dark Street||Peter Gallagher||TV Movie|
|1974||Melvin Purvis: G-Man||Eugene T. Farber||TV Movie|
|1994||Secret Santa||Santa||Short film|
|1965-1966||Peyton Place||Dr. Russ Gehrig||26 episodes|
|1967||Gunsmoke||George McClaney||Episodes: "Nitro Part 1 & 2"|
|1967||Dundee and the Culhane||Charlie Montana||Episode: "The Dead Man's Brief"|
|1967||Cimarron Strip||Tal St. James||Episode: "Knife in the Darkness"|
|1967–1970, 1972–1973||Bonanza||Candy Canaday|
|1971||The F.B.I.||Eugene Bradshaw||Episode: "The Last Job"|
|1971||Hawaii Five-O||George||Episode: "3000 Miles to Honolulu"|
|1971||Bearcats!||Joe Bascom||Episode: "Hostages"|
|Alias Smith and Jones||Sheriff W.D. Coffin
|Episode: "Everything Else You Can Steal"
Episode: "The Strange Fate of Conrad Meyer Zulick"
|1973||Police Story||Wally Baker||Episode: "Death on Credit"|
|1973||Kung Fu||Frank Grogan||Episode: "The Elixir"|
|The Rookies||TJ Curlew
|Episode: "Down Home Boy"
Episode: "A Test of Courage"
|1975||S.W.A.T.||Blake Phillips||Episode: "Kill S.W.A.T."|
|1978||The Dain Curse||Jack Santos|
|1978||Search for Tomorrow||Arthur Benson|
|1981-1983||Another World||Steve Frame|
|1982||American Playhouse||Bingham||Episode: "King of America"|
|All My Children||Adam Chandler
|1997||Remember WENN||Luke Langly||Episode: "Strange Bedfellows"|
|1998||Law & Order||Jeremy Orenstein||Episode: "Venom"|
|One Life to Live||Adam Chandler|
|2001||Touched by an Angel||Carter Winslow||Episodes: "Shallow Water Part 1 & 2"|
|2011||Curb Your Enthusiasm||White Haired Man at Park||Episode: "The Bi-Sexual"|
He has won five Daytime Emmy Awards as 'Outstanding Lead Actor', and has been nominated an additional eleven times, most recently in 2008 for Best Lead Actor. A baritone, Canary has performed in such musicals as, Man of La Mancha, Sweeny Todd, Kismet, and Carousel, as well as performing in dramatic pieces such as The Seagull (Pittsburgh Public Theater, April 1981), and the one man play Clarence Darrow. Canary's favorite stage performance was Tennessee Williams' Broadway production of Clothes for a Summer Hotel with Geraldine Page.
Canary is married to actress Maureen Maloney, with whom he has a son, Chris, and a daughter, Kate. He is the middle son of Hilary and Lorena Canary. His brothers are actor John Canary, who once had a role on All My Children and writer H. Glenn Canary (1934–2008). The brothers are great-great-nephews of Martha Jane Canary, a.k.a. Calamity Jane.
- Shister, Gail. "2 IMPOSTORS TAKING ON CHEF TELL ON WIOQ." Philadelphia Inquirer, The (PA) 10 Nov. 1983, FINAL, FEATURES TELEVISION RADIO: D14. NewsBank. Web. 11 Jun. 2014.
- Shister, Gail. "PRIME-TIME ANCHOR SEEN AS MALE ROLE." Philadelphia Inquirer, The (PA) 17 Nov. 1983, FINAL, FEATURES TELEVISION RADIO: C18. NewsBank. Web. 11 Jun. 2014.
- David Canary at the Internet Movie Database
- David Canary interview video at the Archive of American Television