David Janssen
David Janssen

Janssen in 1974.
Born David Harold Meyer
March 27, 1931(1931-03-27)
Naponee, Nebraska, U.S.
Died February 13, 1980(1980-02-13) (aged 48)
Malibu, California, U.S.
Occupation American film/television actor
Years active 1945-1980
Spouse Ellie Graham (1958-1970)
Dani Crayne (1975-1980)

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 1950's 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.[1]


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. 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:

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 (1968), 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.

In 1979 he accepted a part in the infamous Inchon to work with Laurence Olivier [2] but his scenes were edited out of the final release print.

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.[3]


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 [4] He is interred in the Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery in Culver City, California.



TV Movies

  • Belle Sommers (1962)
  • Night Chase (1970)
  • O'Hara, U.S. Treasury (1971)
  • The Longest Night (1972)
  • Moon of the Wolf (1972)
  • Birds of Prey (1973)
  • Hijack (1973)
  • Harry O - Such Dust As Dreams Are Made On (1973)
  • Pioneer Woman (1973)
  • Birds of Prey (1973)
  • Harry O - Smile Jenny, You're Dead (1974)
  • Don't Call the Police (1974)
  • 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)
  • S.O.S. Titanic (1979)
  • The Golden Gate Murders (1979)
  • High Ice (1980)
  • City in Fear (1980)



  • Janssen, Ellie; Phelps, J.D. Michael (1994). David Janssen - My Fugitive. Hollywood, Fla.: Lifetime Books. ISBN 978-0-8119-0797-2. OCLC 31134272. 


  1. ^ TV Guide Guide to TV. Barnes and Noble. 2004. pp. 596. ISBN 0-7607-5634-1. 
  2. ^ http://www.davidjanssen.net/chron17.htm
  3. ^ Dani Greco was born Darlyne Danielle Swanson, December 25, 1934 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She was previously married to singer Buddy Greco from whom she was divorced in April 1974.
  4. ^ Ripley's Believe It or Not! 2010

External links

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