Janssen in The Fugitive (1963)
|Born||David Harold Meyer
March 27, 1931
Naponee, Nebraska, U.S.
|Died||February 13, 1980
Malibu, California, U.S.
Cause of death
|Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery|
|Spouse(s)||Ellie Graham (m. 1958; div. 1968)
Dani Crayne (m. 1975–80)
David Janssen (March 27, 1931 – February 13, 1980) was an American film and television actor who is best known for his starring role as Dr. Richard Kimble in the television series The Fugitive (1963–1967). Janssen also had the title roles in three other series: Richard Diamond, Private Detective; Harry O; and O'Hara, U.S. Treasury.
Janssen was born as David Harold Meyer in Naponee, a village in Franklin County in southern Nebraska, to Harold Edward Meyer, a banker (May 12, 1906 – November 4, 1990) and Berniece Graf (May 11, 1910 – November 26, 1995). Janssen was of Irish and Jewish descent. Following his parents' divorce in 1935, his mother moved with five-year-old David to Los Angeles, California, and later married Eugene Janssen (February 18, 1918 – March 30, 1996) in 1940 in Los Angeles. Young David used his stepfather's name after he entered show business as a child.
He attended Fairfax High School in Los Angeles. His first film part was at the age of thirteen, and by the age of twenty-five he had appeared in twenty films and served two years as an enlisted man in the United States Army. During his Army days, Janssen became friends with fellow enlistees Martin Milner and Clint Eastwood while posted at Fort Ord, California.
Janssen appeared in many television series before he landed programs of his own. In 1956, he and Peter Breck appeared in John Bromfield's syndicated series Sheriff of Cochise in the episode "The Turkey Farmers". Later, he guest starred on NBC's medical drama The Eleventh Hour in the role of Hal Kincaid in the 1962 episode "Make Me a Place", with series co-stars Wendell Corey and Jack Ging. He joined friend Martin Milner in a 1962 episode of Route 66 as the character Kamo in the episode "One Tiger to a Hill."
Janssen starred in four television series of his own:
- Richard Diamond, Private Detective (1957–1960), a series that also introduced Mary Tyler Moore, showing only her legs, and Barbara Bain as Diamond's girlfriend.
- The Fugitive (1963–67), the hit Quinn Martin-produced series, about a Midwest doctor falsely convicted of murdering his wife;
- O'Hara, U.S. Treasury (1971–1972), as a government agent investigating counterfeiters and other federal crimes;
- Harry O (1974–1976), as a San Diego-based private eye.
At the time, the final episode of The Fugitive held the record for the greatest number of American homes with television sets to watch a series finale, at 72 percent in August 1967.
His films include To Hell and Back, the biography of Audie Murphy, who was the most decorated American soldier of World War II; John Wayne's Vietnam war film The Green Berets; opposite Gregory Peck in the space story Marooned, in which Janssen played an astronaut sent to rescue three stranded men in space, and The Shoes of the Fisherman, as a television journalist in Rome reporting on the election of a new Pope (Anthony Quinn).
He starred as a Los Angeles police detective trying to clear himself in the killing of an apparently innocent doctor in the 1968 film Warning Shot.
Janssen played an alcoholic in the 1977 TV movie A Sensitive, Passionate Man, which co-starred Angie Dickinson, and an engineer who devises an unbeatable system for blackjack in the 1978 made-for-TV movie Nowhere to Run, co-starring Stefanie Powers and Linda Evans. Janssen's impressively husky voice was used to good effect as the narrator for the TV mini-series Centennial (1978–79); he also appeared in the final episode.
Though Janssen's scenes were cut from the final release, he also appeared as a journalist in the film Inchon, which he accepted to work with Laurence Olivier who played General Douglas MacArthur. At the time of his death, Janssen had just begun filming a television movie playing the part of Father Damien, the priest who dedicated himself to the leper colony on the island of Molokai, Hawaii. The part was eventually reassigned to actor Ken Howard of the CBS series The White Shadow.
Janssen was married twice. His first marriage was to model and interior decorator Ellie Graham, whom he married in Las Vegas on August 25, 1958. They divorced in 1968. In 1975, he married actress and model Dani Crayne Greco. They remained married until Janssen's death.
Janssen died of a sudden heart attack in the early morning of February 13, 1980, at his home in Malibu, California at age 48. At the time of his death, Janssen was filming the television movie Father Damien. Janssen was buried at the Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery in Culver City, California. A non-denominational funeral was held at the Jewish chapel of the cemetery on February 17. Suzanne Pleshette delivered the eulogy at the request of Janssen's widow. Johnny Carson, Rod Stewart and Gregory Peck were among Janssen's pallbearers. Honorary pallbearers included Jack Lemmon, George Peppard, James Stewart and Danny Thomas. Los Angeles coroner Thomas Noguchi reportedly found high levels of morphine, cocaine, and alcohol in Janssen's body.
- It's a Pleasure (1945)
- Swamp Fire (1946)
- Bonzo Goes to College (1952)
- Francis Goes to West Point (1952)
- Yankee Buccaneer (1952)
- Back at the Front (1952)
- Untamed Frontier (1952)
- Leave It to Harry (1954)
- Chief Crazy Horse (1955)
- Cult of the Cobra (1955)
- The Private War of Major Benson (1955)
- Francis in the Navy (1955)
- To Hell and Back (1955)
- All That Heaven Allows (1955)
- The Square Jungle (1955)
- Never Say Goodbye (1956)
- The Toy Tiger (1956)
- Francis in the Haunted House (1956)
- Away All Boats (1956)
- Mr. Black Magic (1956)
- The Girl He Left Behind (1956)
- Showdown at Abilene (1956)
- Lafayette Escadrille (1958)
- Hell to Eternity (1960)
- Dondi (1961)
- King of the Roaring 20's - The Story of Arnold Rothstein (1961)
- Ring of Fire (1961)
- Twenty Plus Two (1961)
- Man-Trap (1961)
- My Six Loves (1963)
- Warning Shot (1967)
- The Green Berets (1968)
- The Shoes of the Fisherman (1968)
- Where It's At (1969)
- Marooned (1969)
- Generation (1969)
- Macho Callahan (1970)
- Once Is Not Enough (1975)
- The Swiss Conspiracy (1976)
- Two-Minute Warning (1976)
- Warhead (1977)
- Golden Rendezvous (1977)
- Covert Action (1978)
- Inchon (1981) Scenes cut from released print
- Belle Sommers (1962)
- Night Chase (1970)
- O'Hara, U.S. Treasury (1971)
- The Longest Night (1972)
- Moon of the Wolf (1972)
- Birds of Prey (1973)
- Hijack (1973)
- Harry O – Such Dust As Dreams Are Made On (1973)
- Pioneer Woman (1973)
- Harry O – Smile Jenny, You're Dead (1974)
- Don't Call the Police (1974)
- Fer-de-Lance (1974)
- Stalk the Wild Child (1976)
- Mayday at 40,000 Feet! (1976)
- A Sensitive, Passionate Man (1977)
- Superdome (1978)
- Nowhere to Run (1978)
- S.O.S. Titanic (1979)
- The Golden Gate Murders (1979)
- High Ice (1980)
- City in Fear (1980)
- Father Damien: The Leper Priest – 1980 (Incomplete – Replaced by Ken Howard)
- Boston Blackie (1 episode, 1951)
- Lux Video Theatre (3 episodes, 1955–1956)
- Matinee Theatre (1 episode, 1956)
- Sheriff of Cochise (1 episode, 1956)
- Conflict (1 episode, 1957)
- You Are There (1 episode, 1957)
- U.S. Marshal (1 episode, ????)
- Alcoa Theatre (2 episodes, 1957–1958)
- The Millionaire (2 episodes, 1957–1958)
- Zane Grey Theater (4 episodes, 1957–1959)
- Richard Diamond, Private Detective (77 episodes, 1957–1960)
- Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse (1 episode, 1959)
- Death Valley Days (1 episode, 1961)
- Adventures in Paradise (1 episode, 1961)
- Thriller (1 episode, 1962)
- Target: The Corruptors (1 episode, 1962)
- General Electric Theater (1 episode, 1962)
- Follow the Sun (2 episodes, 1962)
- Checkmate (1 episode, 1962)
- Cain's Hundred (1 episode, 1962)
- Kraft Mystery Theatre (1 episode, 1962)
- Route 66 (1 episode, 1962)
- The Eleventh Hour (1 episode, 1962)
- The Dick Powell Show (1 episode, 1963)
- Naked City (2 episodes, 1961–1963)
- The Fugitive (120 episodes, 1963–1967)
- The Hollywood Palace (1 episode, 1965)
- O'Hara, U.S. Treasury (22 episodes, 1971–1972)
- Cannon (1 episode, 1973)
- Harry O (45 episodes, 1973–1976)
- Police Story (1 episode, 1977)
- The Word (1978)
- Centennial (1 episode, 1979, and narrator for all 12 episodes, 1978 – 79)
- Biography (1979)
- Janssen, Ellie; Phelps, J.D. Michael (1994). David Janssen – My Fugitive. Hollywood, Fla.: Lifetime Books. ISBN 978-0-8119-0797-2. OCLC 31134272.
- TV Guide Guide to TV. Barnes and Noble. 2004. ISBN 0-7607-5634-1.
- Eder, Shirley (February 20, 1980). "'Angels' Will Be Back – Without Shelly Hack". The Evening Independent. p. 12-B.
- "Private Eye Caught". The Miami News. August 25, 1958. p. 3A.
- Arar, Yardena (February 14, 1980). "Actor David Janssen Dies of Heart Attack at Age 38". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. p. 3-A.
- Gliatto, Tom (September 13, 1993). "The First Fugitive". people.com.
- David Janssen at Find a Grave
- "Friends turn out to bid farewell to David Janssen". The Montreal Gazette. February 19, 1980. p. 69.
- "Hollywood Star Walk: David Janssen". latimes.com.
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