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David Janssen

David Janssen was an award-winning American actor best known for his portrayal of Dr. Richard Kimble on TV's The Fugitive (1963-67). He is also remembered for his starring roles on Richard Diamond, Private Detective (1957-60), O'Hara, U.S. Treasury (1971-72), and Harry O (1974-76).

Biographical fast facts

Full or original name at birth: David Harold Meyer

Date, time and place of birth: March 27, 1931, at 10:00 a.m., Walnut Street, Naponee, Nebraska, U.S.A.

Date, place and cause of death: February 13, 1980, at 21958 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, California, U.S.A.* (Heart attack)

Marriage #1
Wife: Ellie Graham (m. August 23, 1958 - August 25, 1970) (divorced)
Wedding took place in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.A.

Marriage #2
Wife: Dani Crayne (m. October 4, 1975 - February 13, 1980) (his death)
Wedding took place at movie mogul Lew Wasserman's home at 911 North Foothill Road (off Sunset Blvd.), Beverly Hills, California, U.S.A.

Siblings: Larry Meyer and Lee Meyer (twin half-brothers)
Half-sisters: Teri Jean Janssen, Jill Janssen, and Gloria Meyer

NOTE: Larry, Lee, and Gloria Meyer resulted from his father's subsequent marriage to Reva Kroeger. Teri Janssen and Jill Janssen resulted from his mother's subsequent marriage to Eugene Janssen. (David later took his stepfather's last name.)

Father: Harold Edward Meyer (a banker/insurance man) (b. May 12, 1906, Alma, Nebraska - d. November 5, 1990, Mesa, Arizona)
Mother: Berniece Mae Graf ** (a beauty queen/actress/Ziegfeld Follies showgirl) (b. May 11, 1910, Naponee, Nebraska - d. November 26, 1995, Motion Picture and Television Country House and Hospital, Woodland Hills, California)

Burial site: Hillside Memorial Park (a.k.a. Hillside Cemetery), Culver City, California, U.S.A.

Error corrections or clarifications

* He was "officially" pronounced dead February 13th, 1980, at 5:55 a.m., at Santa Monica Hospital, in Santa Monica, California. But since he was found not breathing and without a heartbeat by paramedics and fire personnel at his home, this is the place of death we report above.

** Several sources erroneously offer the more traditional "Bernice" as the spelling of his mother's name.

Career - Credits - Hobbies/sidelines

Though he starred in four different television series, and dozens of motion pictures and TV movies, his first-rate portrayal of Dr. Richard Kimble on TV's unforgettable The Fugitive, is the one most viewers associate with Janssen.

Barry Morse co-starred on the show as Lt. Philip Gerard. Gerard's relentless pursuit of the wrongly convicted doctor, while Kimble in turn searched for the one-armed man he saw run from the scene of the crime, kept audiences enthralled right up to the final episode. That concluding chapter of the show remains one of the most-watched episodes in the history of American television. Experts often rank the show among the finest American television programs. TV Guide once named The Fugitive the best dramatic series of the 1960s.

In 1993, a feature film based on the series was released. The blockbuster motion picture version of The Fugitive starred Harrison Ford in the role of Dr. Richard Kimble, Tommy Lee Jones as the obsessed Gerard (though he was now a U.S. Marshal, rather than a police lieutenant) and Andreas Katsulas as the one-armed man. It was a well-made, quality film, and was a worthy successor to the original. U.S. Marshals was a 1998 follow-up to this film, and followed Gerard in an entirely new case which had nothing to do with the events of The Fugitive.

A TV series remake of The Fugitive aired on CBS (2000-2001), and starred Timothy Daly as Dr. Richard Kimble, Mykelti Williamson as Gerard, and Stephen Lang as the one-armed man. As remakes go, the show wasn't bad, but it did fail to live up to the exceptional level of quality seen in the original series.

Toward the end of his career, Janssen received critical praise for his performance as private detective Harry-O. The show offered him a well-written character on an above-average series that became a minor cult favorite, though it lasted just two seasons. The ABC series was notable for the pre-Charlie's Angels appearance of Farrah Fawcett in a recurring role.

Selected film credits:
It's a Pleasure (1945)
Swamp Fire (1946)
Untamed Frontier (1952)
Yankee Buccaneer (1952)
Francis Goes to West Point (1952)
Bonzo Goes to College (1952)
Chief Crazy Horse (1955)
Cult of the Cobra (1955)
Francis in the Navy (1955)
To Hell and Back (1955)
The Private War of Major Benson (1955)
All That Heaven Allows (1955)
Never Say Goodbye (1956)
Away All Boats (1956)
Toy Tiger (1956)
Showdown at Abilene (1956)
The Girl He Left Behind (1956)
Francis in the Haunted House (1956)
Lafayette Escadrille (1958)
Hell to Eternity (1960)
Dondi (1961)
King of the Roaring 20's (1961)
Ring of Fire (1961)
Twenty Plus Two (1961)
Man-Trap (1961)
Belle Sommers (1962)
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)
Warhead a.k.a. Prisoner in the Middle (1974)
Jacqueline Susann's Once Is Not Enough (1975)
The Swiss Conspiracy (1975)
Two Minute Warning (1976)
Golden Rendezvous (1977)
Covert Action (1978)
Inchon (1981)

TV movies/Miniseries/Pilots/Miscellaneous TV:
Night Chase (1970)
The Longest Night (1972)
Moon of the Wolf (1972)
Birds of Prey (1973)
Hijack (1973)
Pioneer Woman (1973)
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)
Centennial (1978)
The Word (1978)
S.O.S. Titanic (1979)
The Golden Gate Murders (1979)
High Ice (1980)
City in Fear (1980)

Selected TV guest appearances:
Lux Video Theatre
Zane Grey Theater (a.k.a. Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater)
Alcoa Theatre
You Are There
The Millionaire
Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse
Death Valley Days
Naked City
Adventures in Paradise
Target: The Corruptors
General Electric Theater (a.k.a. G.E. Theater)
Follow the Sun
Cain's Hundred
Route 66
The Eleventh Hour
Dick Powell Theatre
Police Story
The Tonight Show
The Merv Griffin Show
The Joey Bishop Show
Dinah's Place
The Mike Douglas Show
Circus of the Stars

Selected stage credits:
Cinderella Goes Hollywood (1945)
Love's Old Sweet Song (1946)
Payment Deferred (1948)
This Happy Breed (1949)
The Play's the Thing (1949)
All My Sons (1949)
One Sunday Afternoon (1950)
Miranda (1950)
Born Yesterday (1950)
Just Around the Corner (1950)
The Silver Whistle (1950)
Happy Birthday (1950)
His French Wife (1950)
Mr. Roberts (1959)
The Gazebo (1960)

Golden Globe - Most Popular Male TV Personality - presented on January 31st, 1966

Incredibly, his Golden Globe was the only major award David Janssen ever won for his work. He received several minor awards including a few from magazines, and was nominated for three Emmy awards (1964, 1966, 1967).

Tennis, golf, gambling, race horse owner, real estate investment, and photography.


More than two dozen sources were consulted in preparing this biography.
One of the most in-depth of these was the 1993 book The Fugitive: Recaptured - The 30th Anniversary Companion to a Television Classic, by Ed Robertson.

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