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David Janssen (1931)

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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), the starring role in the 1950s hit detective series Richard Diamond, Private Detective (1957-60), and as Harry Orwell on Harry O.

In 1996 TV Guide ranked him number 36 on its 50 Greatest TV Stars of All Time list.


 early life
Janssen was born as David Harold Meyer in Naponee, Nebraska to Harold Edward Meyer, a banker (May 12, 1906 – November 4, 1990) and Berniece Graf (May 11, 1910 – November 26, 1995). Following his parents' divorce in 1935, his mother moved with five-year-old David to Los Angeles, California. She eventually married, to Eugene Janssen (February 18, 1918 – March 30, 1996) on September 29, 1940 in Los Angeles. Young David used his stepfather's name after he entered show business as a child. Janssen was raised a Lutheran. He attended Fairfax High School in Los Angeles. His first film part was at the age of 13, and by the age of 25 he had appeared in 20 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 whilst posted at Ft. Ord, California.

 acting career
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 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 (1957–60),
  • The Fugitive, the hit Quinn Martin produced series, (1963–67),
  • O'Hara, U.S. Treasury (1971–72), and
  • Harry O (1974–76).

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% in August 1967.

His films include To Hell and Back, the autobiography of Audie Murphy, who is considered the most decorated soldier in the military history of the United States; John Wayne's war film The Green Berets , and opposite Gregory Peck in the space story Marooned about three stranded astronauts. Janssen played an alcoholic in the 1977 TV movie A Sensitive, Passionate Man, which co-starred Angie Dickinson.

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. The part was eventually reassigned to actor Ken Howard.

 personal life
He was married twice. His first marriage was to Ellie Graham on August 23, 1958 in Las Vegas, Nevada. They divorced on August 25, 1970. From October 4, 1975 to his death, he was married to sometime actress and model Dani Crayne Greco.

Janssen died of a heart attack on the morning of February 13, 1980 at his home in Malibu, California, two days into the filming of Father Damien. Two days earlier, he told his wife, Dani, that he had a bad dream that he was being carried in a coffin following a heart attack He is interred in the Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery in Culver City, California.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "David Janssen", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.