BRIAN KEITH Biography - Actors and Actresses


Biography » actors and actresses » brian keith


Name: Robert Keith Richey, Jr.                                                                 
Born: 14 November 1921 Bayonne, New Jersey, U.S.                                               
Died: 24 June 1997 Malibu, California, U.S.                                                     
Brian Keith (November 14, 1921 – June 24, 1997) was an American stage, film and               
television actor.                                                                               
Brian Keith was born Robert Keith, Jr. in Bayonne, New Jersey, to actor Robert                 
Keith and stage actress Helena Shipman, a native of Aberdeen, Washington. He                   
made his acting debut in the silent film Pied Piper Malone (1924) at the age of                 
three. After high school in East Rockaway, New York he joined the U.S. Marines (1942-1945).     
He served during World War II as an aerial gunner and received an Air Medal.                   
After the war, Keith became a stage actor, branching out into films and then                   
television. A strong and capable actor, Keith spent many years playing second                   
leads and gruff sidekicks. He won much acclaim for his starring role in Sam                     
Peckinpah's short-lived The Westerner (1960). His biggest break, however, came                 
in 1966 when he landed the role of "Uncle Bill" Davis on the popular television                 
situation comedy Family Affair, a role that earned him three Emmy nominations                   
for Best Actor. The show made him a household name. When CBS requested that he                 
pose for Christmas publicity shots connected with Family Affair, Keith refused                 
on the basis that this was exploitative of the holiday.                                         
He was offered the role of Deke Thornton in The Wild Bunch by Sam Peckinpah, but               
turned down due to his commitment on Family Affair, leading to a falling-out                   
between the two former friends.                                                                 
He is also fondly remembered for his role as the father of twins in the 1961                   
film The Parent Trap, costarring Hayley Mills and Maureen O'Hara. His                           
performance as Theodore Roosevelt in The Wind and the Lion (1975) is also                       
particularly well-remembered and regarded, being considered among the best                     
portrayals of an American president on film.                                                   
Keith went on to star in such television series as The Brian Keith Show,                       
Heartland, and Hardcastle and McCormick. He also starred in the six-part                       
television series The Zoo Gang, about a group of former underground freedom                     
fighters from World War II, as "Stephen 'The Fox' Halliday". The show also                     
starred Sir John Mills, Lilli Palmer, and Barry Morse.                                         
Keith spoke fluent Russian, which led to his casting as a Russian in two roles:                 
the Soviet Premier in World War III with Rock Hudson; and as a Soviet scientist                 
in Meteor with Natalie Wood. In The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming,               
where he played the unexcitable police chief of an island where a Soviet                       
submarine runs aground, however, his character had to have Russian translated to               
him by Alan Arkin's character.                                                                 
In his last film, Keith played President William McKinley in Rough Riders (1997).               
Director John Milius dedicated Rough Riders to "Brian Keith, Actor, Marine,                     
In 2008, the Hollywood Walk of Fame will install a star in Brian Keith's honor                 
on the world famous sidewalk in California.                                                     
Keith married three times, first to Frances Helm; then, in 1955, to Judith                     
Landon; and finally, in 1970, to Hawaiian actress Victoria Young (née Leialoha),               
who later appeared on The Brian Keith Show (1972-1974) as Nurse Puni. Keith                     
fathered four children but also adopted three others with Judith Landon. Daisy                 
Keith, one of his children with Victoria Young, became an actress and appeared                 
with her father in the short-lived series Heartland in 1989.                                   
During the later part of his life, Keith suffered from emphysema and lung cancer,               
despite having quit smoking ten years earlier (he had posed for Camel cigarettes               
in an endorsement campaign in 1955). Keith was found dead of a self-inflicted                   
gunshot wound on June 24, 1997, two months after his daughter Daisy had                         
committed suicide.                                                                             
He is buried next to Daisy at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los                   
Angeles, California.