David Janssen (David Harold Meyer)

David Janssen

David Janssen

He is best remembered for his role as ‘Dr. Richard Kimble’ in the ABC television drama series “The Fugitive,” about a Midwest doctor falsely convicted of murdering his wife and his escape from custody, followed by his intense search for the actual killer, which aired from 1963 until 1967. 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 percent in August 1967. Born David Harold Meyer of Irish-Jewish descent in Naponee, Nebraska, his father was a banker. His parents divorced in 1935 and his mother moved with him to Los Angeles, California, and later married Eugene Janssen there in 1940 . After entering show business as a child, he used his stepfather’s surname. 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 twenty films and served two years in the US Army, where he became friends with fellow soldiers Martin Milner and Clint Eastwood while assigned to Fort Ord, California. He appeared in many episodes of television series before obtaining programs of his own, including “Lux Video Theatre,” “Sheriff of Cochise,” “Alcoa Theatre,” “The Millionaire,” “Zane Grey Theater,” “The Eleventh Hour,” and “Naked City.” He starred in four television series of his own, “Richard Diamond, Private Detective” (1957 to 1960), “The Fugitive” (1963 to 1967), “O’Hara, U.S. Treasury” (1971 to 1972), as a government agent investigating counterfeiters and other federal crimes, and “Harry O (1974 to 1976), as a San Diego-based private eye. His film credits include “To Hell and Back” (1955), the biography of Audie Murphy, who was the most decorated American soldier of World War II, “The Green Berets” (1968, John Wayne’s propagandized pro-Vietnam war film), “The Shoes of the Fisherman” (1968), as a television journalist in Rome reporting on the election of a new Pope (played by Anthony Quinn), and “Marooned” (1969, opposite Gregory Peck), in which he played an astronaut sent to rescue three stranded men in space. He appeared in the television movies “The Longest Night” (1972), “Moon of the Wolf’ (1972), “Hijack” (1973), “Mayday at 40,000 Feet” (1976), “A Sensitive, Passionate Man” (1977), “Nowhere to Run” (1978), “City in Fear” (1980), and appeared in the final episode of the television mini-series “Centennial” (1978 to 1979) and was the narrator for the entire series. He died of a heart attack at his home in Malibu, California at the age of only 48. During his career, he appeared in over 40 films and 20 television movies.

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  • March, 27, 1931
  • Naponee, Nebraska


  • February, 13, 1980
  • Malibu, California

Cause of Death

  • Heart attack


  • Hillside Memorial Park
  • Culver City, California

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