|Date of Birth||27 March 1931, Naponee, Nebraska, USA|
|Date of Death||13 February 1980, Malibu, California, USA (heart attack)|
|Birth Name||David Harold Meyer|
|Height||6' (1.83 m)|
Mini Bio (2)
David Janssen was born David Harold Meyer in 1931 in Naponee, Nebraska, to Berniece Mae (Graf) and Harold Edward Meyer, a banker. He was of German, and some Swiss-German and Scottish-Irish, descent. David took the surname of his stepfather, Eugene Janssen. The Janssen family settled in Hollywood when he was a teenager and he attended Fairfax High School, where he developed an interest in acting. His film debut was a bit part in It's a Pleasure (1945), and at the age of 18 signed a contract with 20th Century-Fox. However, the studio dropped him after allegedly becoming disenchanted with his odd hairline and big prominent ears. Janssen had better luck at Universal, where he signed on in the early 1950s and became a supporting player in 32 films before appearing on TV as the star of Richard Diamond, Private Detective (1957). He resumed his movie career in 1961, a year after the series ended. His biggest success came from his lead in the series The Fugitive (1963), playing the haunted, hunted Dr. Richard Kimble, on the run for a murder he didn't commit. After the series ended, Janssen launched himself into a grueling schedule by appearing in lead and supporting roles in movies, but he had better luck with made-for-TV-movie roles and a short-lived series, O'Hara, U.S. Treasury (1971). He had another hit series with the cult favorite Harry O (1973). Janssen continued appearing in lead roles in nearly 20 made-for-TV-movies during the 1970s as well as other TV projects. He died in 1980 from a sudden heart attack at his Malibu home at the age of 48. Unfounded speculation holds that Janssen succumbed to alcoholism, a problem that plagued him most of his adult life. There were even unfounded rumors about drug use. However, a much more reasonable explanation for David Janssen's sudden demise is that this intense, dedicated, determined actor simply worked himself to death.
- IMDb Mini Biography By: matt-282
David Janssen reached the pinnacle of show biz stardom in the late 1960s on the strength of his remarkable, layered portrayal of the heroic, wrongfully convicted Dr. Richard Kimble, a man who had been cast aside by society yet retained his humanity and remained filled with integrity and compassion for others. Nebraska-born David Janssen was the son of a former Miss Nebraska who had toured as a Ziegfeld Follies showgirl. It was his stage mother who pushed him towards show business as a child and he appeared in bit parts in movies, TV variety shows, radio shows, and stage plays. In his early twenties, he was a contract player during the last years of the studio system, gaining valuable experience in everything from acting and dancing to horseback riding and boxing. He first came to the public's attention with the starring role in Richard Diamond, Private Detective (1957), a role which garnered positive reviews and recognition. But it was with his career-defining role as The Fugitive (1963) that he gained world-wide fame. Always in demand after that, he appeared in feature films and on TV throughout the 1960s and 70s. The hold that he had on the television-viewing public didn't wane right up until this untimely death at age 48.
David Harold Meyer was born on March 27, 1931 in Naponee, Nebraska, the son of Berniece and Harold Meyer. After his parents' marriage ended, mom and son moved to Los Angeles, California in 1938. Berniece married Eugene Janssen and David later took his stepfather's last name. As a teen, what David really wanted was an athletic career. At Fairfax High, he was a talented basketball and track athlete who won a scholarship to UCLA. However, an injury from pole vaulting led to the loss of the scholarship and a disappointed David decided not to pursue college. In 2001, former publicist Frank Liberman would recall that though David didn't study beyond high school, "He was one of the brightest men I've ever known. Very articulate."
At age 20, after a stint of summer stock in Maine, David landed a contract at Universal-International in the Talent Program. This apprenticeship was interrupted after less than a year when the Army called him up. Stationed for two years at the Fort Ord base in northern California, Corporal Janssen was discharged at age 23 and was able finally to concentrate on Hollywood.
By 1954, David was making a favorable impression at Universal and he was placed in minor roles in such popular films as To Hell and Back (1955), All That Heaven Allows (1955), and The Private War of Major Benson (1955). Cult of the Cobra (1955), a cheesy horror movie that featured an amazing cast of future TV stars, allowed David to stretch his acting chops a bit more than usual, up to that point in his career. Later, his acting in Showdown at Abilene (1956) so impressed the director that he quietly diffused David's energy by having him lean against a wall in most scenes so as not to upstage the lead actor in the movie.
After his contract ended at Universal, David moved on to other studio pictures, notably supporting roles in two features at Warner Brothers: The Girl He Left Behind (1956) with friend Natalie Wood and Lafayette Escadrille (1958), William A. Wellman's passion project about World War I American pilots. Ironically, the first was filmed at Ford Ord and some of the real soldiers on base recognized David but didn't know he was there to film a movie and were confused to see him in a captain's uniform.
David's first big break came when Dick Powell selected him for the title role of Richard Diamond, Private Detective (1957). The TV series ran from 1957 to 1960 and established David as an actor who could carry his own weight as the lead on a successful TV series. Notably, David's voice-over narration is used to great effect and he would, over the course of his career, narrate other projects. While doing his own show, he had time to appear in a diverse range of projects, from guest starring on other TV series to stage work.
In 1959, David, who didn't have the clout then that he would later enjoy, missed out on a supporting role in BUtterfield 8 (1960) when Elizabeth Taylor prevailed upon the producers to cast husband Eddie Fisher instead. David rebounded with Hell to Eternity (1960), for which he garnered great reviews and was nominated for a Golden Globe as "Most Promising Newcomer." 1961 was an especially busy year for David, who played the lead in five feature films. Among the films released that year were Ring of Fire (1961), King of the Roaring 20's: The Story of Arnold Rothstein (1961), Twenty Plus Two (1961), and Man-Trap (1961). He also found work in television.
It was 1963 when the tide turned and life would never again be the same. David took the role of Dr. Richard Kimble in The Fugitive (1963) and four very successful years followed. David Janssen completely inhabited the character Richard Kimble and this show remains today a favorite among classic TV fans and critics alike, who refer to it with respect and awe.
After the grueling schedule of 120 one-hour dramas as the sole lead actor over the course of four years, David sought work in feature films and was cast between 1967 and 1970 in The Green Berets (1968), The Shoes of the Fisherman (1968), Where It's At (1969), Marooned (1969), Generation (1969) and Macho Callahan (1970).
Though David's career in film never really took off, he remained a fixture on TV in the 1970s. In 1974, David embarked on another career-defining role. David Janssen personified Harry O (1973) in much the same way that he did The Fugitive (1963) a decade earlier, though with a totally different character. It is this portrayal that is often cited when one talks about the depth of David Janssen's performances. Again, what happened in these shows is less impactful than how it happened.
Feature films during this decade included the trashy Once Is Not Enough (1975), with columnist Joyce Haber noting "Janssen is stratospheres above anyone else in the movie. When he is on, he owns the screen". He also appeared in the suspenseful Two-Minute Warning (1976) opposite Gena Rowlands as his love interest. On TV, he could be seen in such well-received projects as Birds of Prey (1973), A Sensitive, Passionate Man (1977), Nowhere to Run (1978) and the majestic miniseries Centennial (1978).
David Janssen suffered a fatal heart attack in the pre-dawn hours of February 13, 1980 at his home in Malibu, California. His last TV movie City in Fear (1980) was broadcast a month after his death.
David was exceptionally well-liked and admired by his fellow actors and production crews. Co-stars Anthony Zerbe, Deborah Raffin and Jean Seberg thought he was wonderful to work with. Many years after his death, his name would crop up in interviews with people like Nancy Malone, Robert Vaughn, Jerry Orbach, Lee Grant, Cliff Robertson, Kim Darby, Shirley Knight and Marion Ross. He had a reputation for working hard and he treated people well.
- IMDb Mini Biography By: MissClassicTV
|Dani Crayne||(4 October 1975 - 13 February 1980) (his death)|
|Ellie Graham||(23 August 1958 - 25 August 1970) (divorced)|