David Brian



  • Height: 6' 4" (1.93 m)


New Yorker who, after schooling at City College, found work as a doorman before entering show business with a song-and-dance routine in vaudeville and in night clubs. He did a wartime stint with the Coast Guard and returned to acting on the New York stage after the war. Persuaded by Joan Crawford to try his hand at film acting, he joined her in Hollywood and, in 1949, signed a contract with Warner Brothers. In his feature debut, Flamingo Road (1949), he played a political boss infatuated with Crawford’s carnival girl. Brian’s most critically acclaimed performance was as the fair-minded, resourceful Southern lawyer defending condemned but innocent Juano Hernandez from a vicious, bigoted lynch mob in Intruder in the Dust (1949). For this role, he was nominated for a Golden Globe Award as Best Supporting Actor. Brian portrayed a powerful gang leader in The Damned Don’t Cry (1950), again opposite Crawford. In spite of his commanding presence in the film, his performance was somewhat compromised by a cliche-laden script. In This Woman Is Dangerous (1952), it was Crawford who played the criminal and Brian the role of her insanely jealous paramour. For the remainder of the decade and into the 1960s, Brian played an assortment of western heavies on the big screen–notably raider leader Austin McCool in Springfield Rifle (1952) and saloon owner Dick Braden in Dawn at Socorro (1954)–and did the same with equal verve on television, in Gunsmoke (1955). An incisive actor with sardonic looks and a hard edge to his voice, Brian was more often than not typecast as ruthless or manipulating types. Somewhat against character, he essayed a weakling in the ground-breaking airborne drama The High and the Mighty (1954). On the right side of the law, he starred as crusading D.A. Paul Garrett in his own courtroom drama series, Mr. District Attorney (1954), reprising his earlier role on radio. In 1968, he also made a contribution to Star Trek (1966) as John Gill, a Federation cultural observer on the planet Ekos whose experiment in creating a government based on National Socialist principles goes disastrously wrong. In private life, Brian was a noted fundraiser for the Volunteers of America, a well-known nonprofit charitable organisation.