AKA Robert Keith Richey, Jr.
American character actor

Acting in his blood
Born November 14, 1921 in Bayonne, New Jersey. His parents were both no strangers to showbiz. His father was character actor Robert Keith and his mother was stage actress Helena Shipman. He grew up traveling, accompanying his parents while they were on tour. His first appearance was at the age of 3 when he was in the 1924 silent movie Pied Piper Malone with his father. His parents divorced while he was still quite young and he was raised by his mother and grandmother in their Long Island home. He later worked on the stage and performed on the radio prior to World War II.

Military service
Brian Keith joined the US Marine Corps during World War II and served as a machine gunner. He served from 1941-1945 and was awarded the Air Navy Medal.

Journeyman actor
After the War Brian Keith returned to Broadway, then made the move to television as well as more work in films. He had several roles as an extra before finally getting speaking roles.

Brian Keith worked on several TV shows during the 1950's, and finally got his first starring role in 1955 in the short-lived series The Crusader. He was to appear in many other projects including The Parent Trap, The Wind and the Lion, , and The Brian Keith Show.

Brian Keith finally achieved fame when he was cast as kindly Uncle Bill Davis, surrogate father to 3 children orphaned by the untimely death of Bill's brother and the brother's wife on the popular TV sitcom Family Affair. As architect and confirmed bachelor, he was ill prepared to deal with the situation, but with the aid of his 'gentleman's gentleman', deal with it he did. Playing opposite actor Sebastian Cabot's Mr. French, the show earned blockbuster ratings. It was consistently ranked in the top five programs during its run from 1966-1971.

The show steered clear of any controversy, ignoring the social unrest of the late 60's and early 70's. Its idea of controversial content was whether or not to have cake following dinner. Several early shows did deal with the children's fear of abandonment resultant from the untimely death of their parents. In many episodes the program's dilemna was shuffled off to a reluctant Mr. French, whose good nature won out over his preconceived self-image of a 'gentleman's gentleman'. The show was in general a very gentle exercise, not delving deeply into topics. As a result, the program was deemed very 'family friendly', and suitable for everyone from tiny tots to your aged Auntie Matilda. Considering the time period it encompassed, it was a peaceful island in a tumultuous time where all problems were manageable, something America desperately needed.

Continuing success
Following Family Affair, Brian Keith went on to appear in several minor roles until he scored again in 1983, landing the co-starring role in Hardcastle and McCormick alongside of Daniel Hugh Kelly. His role was of retired judge Milton Hardcastle who, along with his last defendant, worked on cases closed due to legal technicalities. They re-investigated these cases, unearthing new evidence or witnesses, and brought the bad guys to final justice. Hardcastle and McCormick ran from 1983 until 1986.

Brian Keith continued working through the 80's and 90's, making appearances in such programs as Touched by an Angel and Walker, Taxas Ranger.

Brian Keith received 3 Emmy Award nominations, all for his work on Family Affair.

Storms on his horizon
In 1997 Brian Keith found his world beginning to unravel. He was diagnosed with chronic emphysema as well as lung cancer. He also suffered from the after effects of chemotherapy and the untimely death of his daughter Daisy by suicide. Rumors of financial trouble also reared its head, further burdening the aging actor.

Marriages and family
Brian Keith was married three times. His first marriage was to Frances Helm, a marriage which ended in 1955. His second marriage was to Judy Landon in 1955. They had two children and adopted 3 others. That marriage too ended in divorce. His third and final marriage was to Hawaiian actress Victoria Young in 1977. She had also appeared in The Brian Keith Show, playing Nurse Puni. They remained wed until Brian Keith's death. They had two children.

Personal tragedy
Brian Keith lost his first son during childhood, then suffered the loss of a daughter (Daisy Keith) to suicide in 1997. Her death was from a self-inflicted gunshot, an act which presaged the demise of her father 10 weeks later. Brian Keith had been released from the hospital for treatment of his emphysema and cancer and chose to end his life in the same way his daughter had elected to end hers.

His final act
He died on June 24, 1997 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. His place of death was at his home in Malibu, California. Brian Keith was buried beside his daughter Daisy at Westwood Village Memorial Park in Los Angeles, California.

Brian Keith is remembered as a strong actor, capably bringing a believability to the roles he played. More importantly, he is remembered by those who knew and worked with him as a very loving, caring man. You will be hard pressed to find an unkind word regarding Brian Keith. When asked once while appearing on The Tonight Show by host Johnny Carson about a possible movie version of Family Affair, Keith replied that he wouldn't be interested in doing it. He said that after the death of his friend Sebastian Cabot and actress Anissa Jones, who played Buffy on the TV series, any interest he might have had was lost along with them. Brian Keith is said to have only one kind of friend and that was real friends, not friends for consumption of the media or publicity. He is universally missed as a good man who was overwhelmed by circumstances.


On the Stage
Da (1978)
Darkness at Noon (1951)
Mister Roberts (1948)
Heyday (1946)

On Television
Keith worked steadily in television from the 1950s until the end of his life and made numerous guest appearances. Series in which he had a starring role are listed here.

Walter and Emily (NBC, 1991-1992)
Heartland (CBS, 1989)
Pursuit of Happiness (ABC, 1987)
The Murder of Sherlock Holmes (Pilot for Murder, She Wrote) (CBS, 1984)
Hardcastle and McCormick (ABC, 1983-1986)
Archer (NBC, 1975)
The Zoo Gang (ITV, 1974)
The Brian Keith Show (NBC, 1972-1974)
Family Affair (CBS, 1966-1971)
The Westerner (NBC, 1960)
The Crusader (CBS, 1955-1956)

In Film
Rough Riders (1997)
The Second Civil War (1997)
Entertaining Angels: The Dorothy Day Story (1996)
Under a Killing Moon (1994)
Wind Dancer (1993)
After the Rain (1990)
Welcome Home (1989)
Young Guns (1988)
Death Before Dishonor (1987)
Sharkey's Machine (1981
Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen (1981)
The Mountain Men (1980)
Meteor (1979)
Centennial (1978)
Hooper (1978)
Nickelodeon (1976)
Joe Panther (1976)
The Wind and the Lion (1975)
The Yakuza (1975)
Scandalous John (1971)
Something Big (1971) The McKenzie Break (1970)
Suppose They Gave a War and Nobody Came? (1970)
Gaily, Gaily (1969)
Krakatoa, East of Java (1969)
With Six You Get Eggroll (1968)
Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967)
Way… Way Out (1966)
Nevada Smith (1966)
The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming (1966)
The Rare Breed (1966)
The Hallelujah Trail (1965)
Those Calloways (1965)
The Pleasure Seekers (1964)
The Raiders (1964)
A Tiger Walks (1964)
Savage Sam (1963)
Moon Pilot (1962)
The Deadly Companions (1961)
The Parent Trap (1961)
Ten Who Dared (1960)
The Young Philadelphians (1959)
Appointment with a Shadow (1959)
Villa! (1958)
Violent Road (1958)
Sierra Baron (1958)
Desert Hell (1958)
Fort Dobbs (1958)
Hell Canyon Outlaws (1957)
Chicago Confidential (1957)
Run of the Arrow (1957)
Dino (1957)
Nightfall (1957)
Storm Center (1956)
5 Against the House (1955)
Tight Spot (1955)
The Violent Men (1955)
The Bamboo Prison (1954)
Jivaro (1954)
Alaska Seas (1954)
Arrowhead (1953)
The Other Kind of Love (1924)
Pied Piper Malone (1924)