Who was Brian Keith, What Happened to Him? How and When did He Die?

It is understandable that a lot of people today do not seem to know who this man was. He started acting when many of today’s generation had not been born and perhaps died before quite some people had been born. But the fact remains that Brian Keith was an incredible man whose absence would always be felt in the world of acting. Brian was an American actor who featured in tons of movies including some of our favorite classics like The Parent Trap (1961) and the 1975 adventure saga, The Wind and The Lion. Although he died in a very tragic way, his legacies live on and in fact, he was awarded a star on the very popular Hollywood Walk of Fame. In this article, we explore the biography, career, personal life, and death of this star actor.

Who was Brian Keith?

His full name is Robert Brian Keith and he was born on the 14th of November, 1921 in the Bayonne area of New Jersey, United States of America. His father’s name was Robert Keith and he was also a popular film actor who featured in dozens of movies in the 1950s. His mother’s name was Helena Shipman and she was a Washington born stage actress. After his parents’ divorce, Brian’s stepmother became Peg Entwistle and she was a very famous Broadway actress who killed herself by leaping from the “H” of the popular Hollywood sign in 1932. Undoubtedly, the acting talent that Brian had was passed on from his parents. However, he did not owe his massive success in acting to just talent alone as his hard work and dedication definitely contributed. Brian Keith holds an American Nationality and was a devout believer in the Roman Catholic Faith.

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Unlike many, Brian Keith had quite an unusual childhood as his parents got divorced as soon as he was born. He remained in the custody of his mother who moved to New York to pursue her acting career. She used to perform both on radio and television and as a result, barely had any time to care for Brian. She used to take him along with her to shows and would place him backstage where he remained quiet and usually slept through the whole show. Brian was then placed in the custody of his grandmother Apker who brought him up and even taught him to read and write when he was only a little boy.

Brian Keith attended the East Rockaway High School located in East Rockaway, New York and graduated in 1939. Next, he joined the United States Marine Corps and worked there from 1942 to 1945. He also served as an air gunner during the deadly World War II and for his service was awarded an Air Medal.

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Brian Keith’s Career

Maureen O'Hara and Brian Keith in The Parent Trap (1961)
Maureen O’Hara and Brian Keith in The Parent Trap (1961)

Keith’s career started when he was only 3 years old and he was featured in the movie Pied Piper Malone. This opened a lot of acting opportunities and he continued to land multiple acting roles. In 1948, he made his first Broadway appearance on the play titled Mister Roberts in which his father also featured in. Some of the movies he acted in include The Quest, The Loneliest Runner, How The West Was Won, Under A Killing Moon, Entertaining Angels, Texas Ranger, Touched By An Angel, Meteor, and The Seekers.

What Happened to Him?

According to reports, Brian Keith had battled with lung cancer and emphysema for a long time; he used to be a smoker but gave up the habit 10 years before his suicide. His suicide happened barely two months after his daughter Daisy who was also an actress had taken her own life. Turns out Brian was struggling with depression and had financial issues during the last years of his life.

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See Also: Who Was Charles Nelson Reilly, What Did He Die Of And How Old Was He?

How and When did Brian Keith Die?

On the 24th of June 1997, Brian Keith was found dead in his apartment in Malibu after what appeared to be suicide by gunshot. There was controversy surrounding his death as to whether or not it was a suicide. Despite the fact that Brian left a suicide note, there were still speculations that it could have been a mistake as he loved to play with guns. It was also speculated that seeing as Brian was a devout Catholic, he couldn’t have committed suicide seeing as it was against his faith.

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