Brandon deWilde
In the television program Jamie (1953–54).
Andre Brandon deWilde

(1942-04-09)April 9, 1942
DiedJuly 6, 1972(1972-07-06) (aged 30)
Resting placePinelawn Memorial Park
GPS: 40.451264 - 73.232000
Years active1950–1972
Notable workThe Member of the Wedding, Shane, Blue Denim, Hud, In Harm's Way
Susan M. Maw
(m. 1963; div. 1969)
Janice Gero
(m. 1972)

Andre Brandon deWilde (April 9, 1942 – July 6, 1972) was an American theater, film, and television actor.[1] Born into a theatrical family in Brooklyn, he debuted on Broadway at the age of seven and became a national phenomenon by the time he completed his 492 performances for The Member of the Wedding.[2][3] He won a Donaldson Award for his performance, becoming the youngest actor to win one, and starred in the subsequent film adaptation for which he won a Golden Globe Award.

DeWilde is best known for his performance as Joey Starrett in the film Shane (1953) for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He also starred in his own sitcom Jamie on ABC and became a household name making numerous radio and TV appearances before being featured on the cover of Life magazine on March 10, 1952, for his second Broadway outing, Mrs. McThing.[2][3]

He continued acting in stage, film and television roles into adulthood before his death at age 30 in a car crash in Colorado on July 6, 1972.[3]

Early life

Andre Brandon deWilde was the son of Frederic A. "Fritz" deWilde and Eugenia (née Wilson) deWilde.[3] Fritz deWilde was the only son of Dutch immigrants, who changed their surname from Neitzel-de Wilde to deWilde when they emigrated to the United States. He was a descendant of the Dutch merchant and seigneur Andries de Wilde, who was married to Cornelia Henrica Neitzel. Fritz deWilde became an actor and Broadway production stage manager. Eugenia was a part-time stage actress.[3]

After deWilde's birth, the family moved from Brooklyn to Baldwin, Long Island.



DeWilde made his much-acclaimed Broadway debut at the age of seven in The Member of the Wedding. He was the first child actor to win the Donaldson Award, and his talent was praised by John Gielgud the following year. He also starred in the 1952 film version of the play, which was directed by Fred Zinnemann.[4]

In 1952, he acted in Shane as Joey Starrett and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance, becoming the youngest nominee at the time in a competitive category. He starred in his own television series, Jamie, which aired in 1953 and 1954. Although the series was popular, it was canceled because of a contract dispute.[3] In 1956, he was featured with Walter Brennan, Phil Harris and Sidney Poitier in the coming-of-age Batjac film production of Good-bye, My Lady, adapted from James Street's book.

DeWilde's soft-spoken manner of speech in his early roles was more akin to a Southern drawl. In 1956, at the age of 14, deWilde narrated the classical music works Peter and the Wolf by Sergei Prokofiev and The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra by Benjamin Britten. He also recorded a reading of Huckleberry Finn on the album The Stories of Mark Twain along with his Good-bye, My Lady costar Brennan.

DeWilde shared an onscreen camaraderie with both James Stewart and Audie Murphy in the 1957 Western Night Passage. In 1958, deWilde starred in The Missouri Traveler, sharing lead billing with Lee Marvin in another coming-of-age film, this one set in the early 1900s. At the age of 17, he played an adolescent father in the 1959 drama Blue Denim. He guest-starred on many TV series, including Alcoa Theatre and the popular Western series Wagon Train.[5]

Brandon deWilde, 1963

In 1961, deWilde appeared in the Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" as Hugo, a mentally impaired youth who cannot separate fact from fantasy. After seeing a magician saw a woman in half at a carnival, Hugo emulates the trick and kills a woman by sawing her in half. The episode never aired on NBC because the finale was deemed too gruesome by 1960s television standards.[6]

The following year, deWilde appeared in All Fall Down, opposite Warren Beatty and Eva Marie Saint, and in Martin Ritt's Hud (1963), co-starring with Paul Newman, Patricia Neal and Melvyn Douglas. Although the only lead actor not to be Oscar-nominated for Hud, deWilde accepted the Best Supporting Actor trophy on behalf of costar Melvyn Douglas (who was in Spain at the time).[7] That same year, he appeared in Jack Palance's ABC circus drama The Greatest Show on Earth.

DeWilde signed a two-picture deal with Disney in 1964. He first starred in The Tenderfoot, a three-part comedy Western for Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color TV show with Brian Keith. The following year, he and Keith starred in Those Calloways, reuniting deWilde with his Good-bye, My Lady star Walter Brennan. Also in 1965, deWilde played PT boat officer Jere Torry, serving under his admiral father played by John Wayne, in the Pacific theater World War II drama In Harm's Way (1965).

DeWilde with Arthur Kennedy in "The Confession" on 'ABC Stage 67' in 1966

After 1965, many of his roles were limited to television guest appearances. "Being small for his age and a bit too pretty ... in his favour as a child ... worked against him as an adult," wrote author Linda Ashcroft after talking with deWilde at a party, "He spoke of giving up movies until he could come back as a forty-year-old character actor."[8] DeWilde's final western role was in Dino De Laurentiis' 1971 Spaghetti Western The Deserter, one year before his death.[9] He made his last screen appearance in Wild in the Sky (1972).


DeWilde had hoped to embark on a music career. He asked his friend Gram Parsons (later of the Byrds and founder of the seminal country rock band the Flying Burrito Brothers) and his International Submarine Band to back him in a recording session. ISB guitarist John Nuese claimed that deWilde sang harmony with Parsons better than anyone except Emmylou Harris. Bassist Ian Dunlop wrote, "The lure of getting a record out was tugging hard at Brandon."[10]

Parsons and Harris later co-wrote a song titled "In My Hour of Darkness", the first verse of which refers to the car crash that killed deWilde.[11][12]

Personal life

DeWilde was married twice and had one son. His first marriage was to writer Susan M. Maw, whom he wed in 1963. The couple had a son, Jesse, before divorcing in 1969.[13] He married Janice Gero in April 1972, three months before his death.[14]


On July 6, 1972, while in Colorado for a Denver stage production of Butterflies Are Free,[15] at the Elitch Theatre, deWilde was killed in a traffic accident in the Denver suburb of Lakewood.[16][17][18] He was driving alone, not wearing a seatbelt, in a camper van that left the roadway before striking a guardrail and a parked truck. The van rolled onto its side, and he was pinned in the wreckage. He was taken to St. Anthony Hospital, where he died at 7:20 p.m. of multiple injuries that included a broken back, neck and leg. He was 30 years old.[14]

DeWilde was originally buried in Hollywood, but his parents later moved his remains to Pinelawn Memorial Park in Farmingdale, New York, to be closer to their home on Long Island.[citation needed]


Year Title Role Notes
1951-1952 The Philco Television Playhouse 2 episodes
1952 The Member of the Wedding John Henry
1953 Shane Joey Starrett Nominated: Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
1953-1954 Jamie Jamie McHummer 22 episodes
1955-1956 Climax! Robbie Eunson
Tip Malone
2 episodes
1956 Good-bye, My Lady Skeeter Jackson
1956 Screen Director's Playhouse Terry Johnson Episode: "Partners"
1957 Night Passage Joey Adams
1957 The United States Steel Hour David Episode: "The Locked Door"
1958 The Missouri Traveler Biarn Turner
1959 Alcoa Theatre George Adams Episode: "Man of His House"
1959 Blue Denim Arthur Bartley Alternative title: Blue Jeans
1959-1961 Wagon Train Danny Benedict
Mark Miner
2 episodes
1961 Thriller Tim Branner Episode: "Pigeons from Hell"
1961 Alfred Hitchcock Presents Hugo Season 7 Episode 39: "The Sorcerer's Apprentice"
1962 All Fall Down Clinton Willart
1962-1970 The Virginian Rem Garvey / Walt Bradbury / James 'Mike Flynn' Cafferty 3 episodes
1963 Hud Lon "Lonnie" Bannon
1963 A Gathering of Eagles Bill Fowler Jr. Uncredited
1963 The Nurses Paul Marker Episode: "Ordeal"
1964 The Greatest Show on Earth Vic Hawkins Episode: "Love the Giver"
1964 The Wonderful World of Disney Jim Tevis 3 episodes: The Tenderfoot
1964 12 O'Clock High Corporal Ross Lawrence Episode: Here's to Courageous Cowards"
1965 Those Calloways Bucky Calloway
1965 The Defenders Roger Bailey, Jr. Episode: "The Objector"
1965 In Harm's Way Ensign Jeremiah "Jere" Torrey
1966 Combat! Wilder Episode: "A Sudden Terror"
1966 ABC Stage 67 Carl Boyer Episode: "The Confession"
1967 The Trip Extra Uncredited
1969 The Name of the Game Bobby Currier Episode: "The Bobby Currier Story"
1969 Journey to the Unknown Alec Worthing Episode: "One on an Island"
1969 Hawaii Five-O
Arnold Potter Episode: "King Kamehameha Blues"
1969 Love, American Style Jimmy Devlin Segment: "Love and the Bachelor"
1970 Insight Weissberg Episode: "Confrontation"
1970 The Young Rebels Young Nathan Hale Episode: "To Hang a Hero"
1971 The Deserter Lieutenant Ferguson Alternative titles: The Devil's Backbone
Ride to Glory
1971 Night Gallery Johnson Episode: "Death in the Family/The Merciful/Class of '99/Witches' Feast"
1971 Ironside George Whittaker Episode: "In the Line of Duty"
1972 Wild in the Sky Josh Alternative titles: Black Jack
God Bless the Bomb, (final film role)


Year Organization Result Category Production
1949-50 Donaldson Awards Won Best Male Debut The Member of the Wedding (Argument play)
1953 Academy Awards Nominated Best Supporting Actor Shane
1953 Golden Globe Awards Won Juvenile Performance The Member of the Wedding (film)

See also


  1. ^ Obituary Variety, July 12, 1972.
  2. ^ a b "Brandon deWilde, 30, Is Killed In Traffic Accident in Colorado". The New York Times. July 7, 1972.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Aylesworth, Thomas G., Hollywood Kids c. 1987, E. P. Dutton, New York, NY, ISBN 0-525-24562-6 (pp. 233–235)
  4. ^ Lillian and Helen Ross, The Player: A Profile of an Art, c. 1961, New York, NY. "Brandon deWilde," p. 43 First Limelight Edition, 1984
  5. ^ Brandon deWilde Acting Credits at IMDb
  6. ^ Grams, Martin and Patrik Winstrom, The Alfred Hitchcock Presents Companion c. 2001, OTR Publishing, Churchville, MD; ISBN 0-9703310-1-0 (pp. 385–388)
  7. ^ Parker, Vernon (9 April 2012). "On This Day in History, April 9: Gifted Young Brooklynite".
  8. ^ Ashcroft, Linda, Wild Child: Life With Jim Morrison c. 1997, Thunder's Mouth Press, New York, NY, Da Capo Press, c. 1999; ISBN 1-56025-249-9
  9. ^ "Wildest Westerns Magazine". Archived from the original on 2001-02-22. Retrieved 2010-06-12.
  10. ^ Remembering With Brandon
  11. ^ Hoskyns, Barney (2009). Waiting for the Sun: A Rock 'n' Roll History of Los Angeles. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 223. ISBN 978-0-879-30943-5.
  12. ^ "Brandon de Wilde - Trivia". IMDb.
  13. ^ "deWilde Sued". The Tuscaloosa News. March 23, 1969. p. 36.
  14. ^ a b "deWilde Known for 'Shane'". The Denver Post. July 7, 1972. p. 37.
  15. ^ "Lakewood Wreck Claims Actor". The Denver Post. July 7, 1972. p. 3.
  16. ^ "Brandon deWilde dies in accident". The Times-News. (Hendersonville, North Carolina). Associated Press. July 7, 1972. p. 3.
  17. ^ "Accident claims film, stage actor Brandon deWilde". The Bulletin. (Bend, Oregon). UPI. July 7, 1972. p. 7.
  18. ^ "Actor remembered for role in 'Shane' killed in crash". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). UPI. July 7, 1972. p. 5A.

Further reading