Brian Keith Biography (1921-1997)

OBITUARY NOTICE: Full name, Brian Michael Keith; born November 14, 1921, in Bayonne, NJ; died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, June 24, 1997, in Malibu,CA. Actor and executive. Keith charmed audiences in film, stage, and television productions in roles that cast him as President Theodore Roosevelt (The Wind and the Lion), retired judge Milton C. Hardcastle (Hardcastle and McCormick), and bachelor turned guardian Uncle Bill (Family Affair). Although he isbest remembered for his work in film and television, Keith began his adult acting career on the stage in productions such as Heyday, Mister Roberts, Darkness at Noon, Out West of Eighth. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II as an aerial gunner, then turned to work on films. He made his adult debut in Arrowhead and followed it with roles in movies such as Nightfall,The Young Philadelphians, The Pleasure Seekers, The Hallelujah Trail, The Yakuza, Moonraker, Sharky's Machine, and Young Guns. (Keith had actually made an earlier film, the silent picture Piper Malone, at the age of three.) He also appeared in humorous films such as The Parent Trap, The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming, and With Six You Get Eggroll. One of his most memorable roles was in the television series Family Affair, in which he played "Uncle Bill" Davis, a bachelor who takes in three young orphans and tries to raise them with the help of his butler, Mr. French. The series aired from 1966to 1971 and earned the actor three Emmy Award nominations. He also appeared on series such as The Brian Keith Show, Archer, and How the West Was Won. In Hardcastle and McCormick (1983 to 1986), he portrayed retired Judge Milton C.Hardcastle, a man who again took in an orphan of sorts. This time it was MarkMcCormick, an ex-con that Hardcastle helps. Together the duo bring justice to criminals who somehow have managed to evade the law.

Keith also appeared in television movies such as The Quest, In the Matter ofKaren Ann Quinlan, The Seekers, and The Alamo: Thirteen Days to Glory, and heportrayed Axel Dumire in the lengthy miniseries Centennial. He returned to the stage in 1978 for a run in the production Da. Despite suffering from cancer, Keith, who had appeared as President Theodore Roosevelt in the film The Wind and the Lion, worked on the TNT miniseries The Rough Riders in 1997. The television production focused on the life of Roosevelt and American involvement in the Spanish American War in 1898.

As noted in the Washington Post: "'I never made a career move in my life,' {Keith} said in a 1991 interview.... 'I just took what came along. I never looked for stepping stones to becoming a star.... I never gave a hoot.'"

Gender
Male
Occupation
actor, executive
Birth Details
May 14, 1921
Bayonne, New Jersey, United States
Death Details
June 24, 1997
Malibu, California, United States

Further Reference

Books:

  • Who's Who in America, Marquis Who's Who, 1996.
Periodicals:
  • Chicago Tribune, June 25, 1997, section 1, p. 10.
  • New York Times, June 25, 1997, p. D20.
  • Washington Post, June 25, 1997, p. B4.

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