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David Janssen in The Fugitive (1963-1967)

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posted by Truus, Bob & Jan too! alias Truus, Bob & Jan too! on Tuesday 31st of March 2020 06:37:27 AM

Spanish postcard by Postal Oscar Color S.A., Hospitalet (Barcelona), no. 465. Photo: United Artists TV Inc. David Janssen in The Fugitive (1963-1967). The Fugitive was one of the best American television shows of the 1960s. In the long run, it was the prototype of many other shows that were to follow it. It contained a combination of drama and crime events put together along with some breathtaking suspense and cliffhanging excitement as the standard formula for this show, and it did extremely well giving the series several Emmy nominations for its excellent writing and acting for its star of the show: David Janssen. He played Dr. Richard Kimble, an innocent victim of blind justice..... Falsely accused of the murder of his wife when a train wreck frees him on route to the death house... Other characters were Detective Lt. Philip Gerard (Barry Morse) and the crippled Fred Johnson (Bill Raisch). David Janssen was born David Harold Meyer in 1931 in Naponee, Nebraska, to Berniece Mae (Graf), a former Miss Nebraska who had toured as a Ziegfeld Follies showgirl, and Harold Edward Meyer, a banker. 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. It was his stage mother who pushed him towards show business as a child and he appeared in bit parts in TV variety shows, radio shows, and stage plays. His film debut was a bit part in the Sonja Henie vehicle It's a Pleasure (William A. Seiter, 1945). As a teenager, he attended Fairfax High School. David 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. 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. However, the studio dropped him after allegedly becoming disenchanted with his odd hairline and big prominent ears. David Janssen had better luck at Universal, where he would play supporting parts in such films as To Hell and Back (Jesse Hibbs, 1955) with Audie Murphy, and All That Heaven Allows (Douglas Sirk, 1955), starring Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson. As a contract player, he gained valuable experience in everything from acting and dancing to horseback riding and boxing. He had his breakthrough on TV as the star of Richard Diamond, Private Detective (1957-1960). He resumed his film career after the series ended. David appeared in the war drama Hell to Eternity (Phil Karlson, 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 Janssen, who played the lead in five feature films, including Twenty Plus Two (Joseph M. Newman, 1961), and Man-Trap (Edmond O'Brien, 1961) with Jeffrey Hunter and Stella Stevens. His biggest success came from his lead in the TV series The Fugitive (1963), playing the heroic, wrongfully convicted Dr. Richard Kimble, on the run for a murder he didn't commit. He gave a remarkable, layered portrayal as a man who had been cast aside by society yet retained his humanity and remained filled with integrity and compassion for others. After the series ended, Janssen launched himself into a grueling schedule by appearing in lead and supporting roles in films, 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 (1973-1976). 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. Matt-282 at IMDb: "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." Source: Wikipedia and IMDb. This was the last postcard in our TV series. For now. But, please check out our albums Dutch TV History and Vintage TV Heroes, and our blog European Film Star Postcards.

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