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Chapter 6  -  ARMY YEARS  (Jun 1952-Jun 1954)
    "fighting the battle of Pebble Beach-a broken engagement"

Janssen has begun a 2-year tour of duty with the U.S. Army. It isn't much of a tour--he's assigned to Fort Ord, a base on California's scenic Monterrey Peninsula. Some strings are pulled and David gets assigned to Special Services, the entertainment division. This keeps him safe at home while a war rages in Korea. But the military obligation does stall the momentum he was building as a working actor with a studio contract.



Jun 5

Janssen's first full day at the Fort Ord base.

Is assigned for basic training to K Company, 20th Regiment and has the military ID of 56102952.

Jun 6 David calls home. To keep him in the show business loop, mother Berniece gifts him with a 6-month subscription to the Hollywood trade newspaper Daily Variety.
July 5

Checks into the base hospital. He writes home on July 7. It's clear the Army is not where he'd ideally like to be:

“Dear Mother,

Well honey I'm in the hospital. I’ve been here for two days. This is the first chance I've had to write to you. I had been coughing a lot and then I began to run a temperature. I feel fine know (sic), still cough a little tho. Please don't worry baby I'll be all right. Just a little cold with a cough. Write to me at the same address as before. It will be forwarded to me. I don't believe I'll be here long, but from what I hear from the other guys, it takes you a long tme to get out. Most of them in this ward are in perfect health, but the Army takes it's time about everything it does. I received the Varietys but went to the hosptal the next day so haven't read them as yet. I hope they send my stuff on to the hospital soon. I haven't been able to brush my teeth for two days, because no one has brought my toothbrush over. One thing about this place, I can get a little sleep for a change. I was getting about 3 hrs. sleep a night in basic training. I think that is what put me in the hospital. Only a few hours sleep a nite and then the climate is always wet being right near the beach. I hope they let me out of here soon, and send me back to the company--the sooner I get it over with the better it will be. I love you mom and dad and the kids to (sic). Tell Teri and Jill I'll write them that letter as soon as possible.

Now mother I'm not sick, just a cold. So don't worry about me. Please write and I'll talk to you soon.

Love Dave.”

Jul 11 David's family, mother Berniece, stepfather Gene, and half-sisters Teri (9) and Jill (6) go see David---at the movies. They see FRANCIS GOES TO WEST POINT in Los Angeles. It's the first picture in which he receives screen credit. Its release most likely is in Northern California this month as well, and one imagines David sees it while up there.
Jul 19 Berniece takes an all day bus ride to Fort Ord for a visit.
Jul 20 Open house at Fort Ord. Berniece visits for the day and returns home on a night bus.
Jul 23 The first filming assignment Janssen had at Universal-International, UNTAMED FRONTIER, is playing in Los Angeles and David's mother takes his half-sisters to see it. David's one line of dialogue makes the final cut but he does not receive credit on screen.
Aug 2 David comes home to Southern California on a weekend leave. Arriving at the family home in the early AM, he goes later in the day to San Pedro for a friend's wedding.
Aug 3 Berniece drops David and an Army friend Mike at the beach highway to hook up with another soldier for a ride back to the base.
Aug 23 David home on another weekend leave. He borrows the family Chevy and goes out in the evening.
Aug 24 David leaves with friend David Ledbetter to return to Fort Ord.
Aug 30 Again back in Los Angeles. He drives the Ford to visit a girl Ginny Jackson. He has dinner with his talent agent Jack Donaldson and goes out with friend Milton Middleman afterwards.
Aug 31 Still at the parents' apartment on Finley. He's home for breakfast and dinner and goes to the beach during the day.
Sep 1 In LA. Visits a girl (Joan T. ) in the morning then has lunch at the apartment. Agent Donaldson picks him up and takes him to the 3:45pm bus in Santa Monica where he rides back to the base with Milton Middleman.
Sep 11

Writes his mother and addresses an unpaid debt.

"Dear Mom,

Sorry it's been so long between letters, but I've been getting settled in my new barraks (sic) and still trying to track down my pay. It seems that unless something to the contrary happens I won't get paid until the end of Sept. Transfering right before pay day really messed up my records as far as my pay goes. I'm sorry to have let you down honey, but it's really out of my hands. Maybe I'll be able to borrow the money from the bank from one of the fellows in my battery.

I don't have as hard a time in A battery as I did in Co K to A battery but there’s a lot of brain work involved and a lot of study. I’m typing about 37 words a min and will probably get a little better before the 8 wk term in school is over. We have 3 hours of typing a day so a guy can get plenty of practice.

I would like to have you come up a wk end and see me. Make it any wk end you can. Just let me know a head of time and I won't make any plans. I am now able to get a pass every night and on wk ends. Carmel has a beautiful beach and it’s a nice place to see, a lot of little stores I know you would like to look into. I miss you mom and the whole family. Drop me a line and let me know about everybody. Give my love to Dand and Teri and Jill. I'll write again soon.

Love your son,


Sep 20 Universal star Ann Blyth comes to the Fort Ord base. She is named the Queen of the 20th Regiment and entertains in 2 shows. It's not known how well she knew Janssen but he will acknowledge her in future interviews as having helped him secure a place in Special Services, a division at the base which will allow him get involved in the Entertainment and Sports activities. More importantly, it may have helped him to stay clear of duty overseas. He'd say to the press as a star later, "I certainly didn’t want to go to Korea. I knew there were people over there who were going to kill me”
Oct 4

Another weekend pass to Los Angeles. Arriving home the night before, his mother accompanies him on a visit to Universal where they lunch at the commissary. Later, he takes the Chevy out for the evening.

Oct 5 David visits friends in Los Angeles all day and leaves at night with friend Freddie Martin, Jr. to go back to the base.
Oct 13

Sends a typed letter home and for the first time the return address is the Special Services Office:

“Dear Mother,

Have been meaning to write to you for a long time now, but have been pretty busy lately.

Bye (sic) next pay day I will be out of a trainee catagory & assigned to Special Services. Things have been comming (sic) along OK. I have been announcing the football games & boxing matches & everybody seems to be pleased. This of course pleases me, natch.

I decided to thank Ann Blyth by a letter of thanks & just forget about a gift. I got to thinking about it and decided a gift might not be the right thing. I also wrote to Frank McFadden, Publ. Dept. at U.I. & Tommy Chambers, Musc. Dept. of U.I. & thanked them also. If you ever run into any of the above, say hello and introduce yourself & tell them hello from me.

I haven't much news Mom, just a letter to say hello & tell you & family I am OK. Give my love to Dad & Teri & Jill & to you of course my living doll.

Your Loving Son,


Oct 23

Another typed letter home:

“Dear Mother,

Sure glad to get your letter. I intended to answer long before this, but I have been working long hours & not getting much sleep. I have been M.C. on quite a few of the shows the section does, outside of the base, and also keeping up with the announcing of the sport events. It’s a lot of fun but I’m still in basic & I have to get up when the C ompany (sic) gets up, and that’s 4:30 in the morning. Well basic is about over for me, and I’ll be able to sleep until 7:00 in the mornings. One of the great things about Special Service is, your (sic) not required to meet the morning formations. I don't have to be in trhe office until 8:00, so if I get up at 7:00 and shower & shave & get a cup of coffee, I can approach the comming (sic) day with a small amount of happiness. Just a small amount tho. As good a deal as I have in Special Service I still can’t stand the Army. I would really like to tell everyone, including the General on down what I think about this messed up organization & what they can do with it. But i’t (sic) wouldn’t help to make life easier for a Pvt named Dave, so I keep going along my sleepwalking way.

Everytime I think about the 20 months left to go, I get real depressed. Well these are the conditions that exist, and maybe in Special Services the days will go by faster.

Not much left to say Mom, just give my love to Dad & Sisters and keep me posted as to the news around town.

I love you Honey!

your Son Dave ”       

Nov 10 Sophie Rosenstein, the founder of the Universal-International Talent Program and the person who both directed Janssen's screen test and who charted his progress after his acceptance, dies unexpectedly. She was 45 and married to Gig Young. Formerly an instructor at the University of Washington who helped to discover Frances Farmer, she founded the Talent Program around 1948 after doing a similar job at Warner Brothers.
Dec 12 Berniece, an movie extra, works at Monogram Studios today and returns home after work to find David already home for a long weekend visit. They go with stepfather Gene to Brown's to buy clothes for their son--a blue suit, topcoat, shoes, a shirt, tie, and socks. It's intended to be a Christmas present.
Dec 13 Spends day in Los Angeles with Ft. Ord friends.
Dec 14 In LA. With agent Jack Donaldson, sees the 3D movie BWANA DEVIL. Then goes to Teri and Jill's school for the Christmas program.
Dec 15 In LA. Dave drives his stepfather to work and borrows his car. He goes to Universal for lunch and a class, perhaps unofficially as he is under suspension due to military service. Berniece takes him to the bank to borrow some money. They do dome shopping and have dinner at home before he's dropped off to get a bus back up to Fort Ord.
Dec 19 A weekend at home again. David's Special Services friends Russell Budd and Louis McConkey stay overnight at his parents' apartment.
Dec 20 After breakfast, David and his 2 Army buddies entertain his family with music and dancing. They go to nightspots in the evening and return home at 4:30am.
Dec 21 The 3 boys return to Ft. Ord mid-day.
Dec 24 Produces, along with Pvt. Bob O'Sullivan, an evening Christmas pageant presented by candlelight. Held at the Ft. Ord Central Service Club, the site of many of the activities of Special Services.
Dec 31 Is in San Diego for New Years Eve . Mother Berniece drives down to join him. May have taken the new Cadillac she and Gene have bought the day before.


Jan 2
David has run up a debt of $356.94 with his mother.
Jan 14

Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, and Terry Moore perform in a big show at the base. Janssen undoubtedly was there.

Jan 17 SSO pal Louis McConkey joins David on a weekend leave home.
Jan 18 McConkey cooks a big Mexican dinner at David's parents' house and Ft. Ord friend Rudy Render joins them. The boys go out in the evening.

Render was Debbie Reynolds’ accompanist for many years. A black soldier who worked for the Colonel at Ft. Ord, he met Reynolds when she came up to entertain at the base. Debbie’s brother Billy was at Ft. Ord at the same time.

Jan 19 Berniece takes David to the bus in the afternoon to hook up with Lou McConkey for the ride back to Northern California.
Jan 23

David's next letter home shows some wit and style. In it he gets to wax poetic on his Army issue wardrobe and rib his mother about the new family car:

Feb 13

Leaves via bus as part of a 15-man Special Services troupe giving shows in San Luis Obispo and Camp Roberts.

Janssen, far right, will MC the program which is called "Operation Goodwill". Among those accompanying Pvt. Janssen are Pvt. Louis McConkey (accordion), Pvt. Russ Budd (dancer), Capt. Robert Bigelow (assistant SS officer), Pvt. Wm. Linton (baritone), Corporal “Chili” Chilingerian (entertainment coordinator), and, on the far left, Pvt. Bobs Watson (pantomime).

Watson was also an actor whose professional career was on hold. As a child appearing in dozens of films, he was often cast to cry. He was "Pee Wee" in the Spencer Tracy Film BOYS TOWN.

Feb 14 MC's 3 shows in San Luis Obispo.
Feb 15 MC's a big afternoon show at Camp Roberts.
Feb-Mar In her big brother's footsteps: half sister Jill, age 7, has been cast and is working at WB in SO BIG for director Robert Wise.
Mar 9 David called from the base wanting to borrow money.
Mar 13 Supposed to MC a show at the base this weekend, but Janssen takes a leave home instead. Russ Budd joins David for the trip and they see a play that Berniece is performing in. She goes out to nightclubs with her son afterwards. Rudy Render comes along.
Mar 14 Borrows the family's new Cadillac all day and night.
Mar 15 David stays in LA through dinner and goes back to the base with Martin Milner with freshly ironed clothes courtesy of his mother.
Mar 20 Berniece drives up to the base for a 5 day visit. Her friend Marvel Lawrence and Rudy Render keep her company in the Cadillac. She returns on the 24th.
Mar 27 David gets a pass home for today, his 22nd birthday. Arriving in the early morning hours, he sleeps, then goes to the dentist at noon. His family takes him to see an M-G-M musical film at the Egyptian Theatre--I LOVE MELVIN, starring Donald O'Connor and Debbie Reynolds.

In the evening, Dave borrows the Cad to go see a girl named Ginny Jackson.

Mar 28 Dave goes out to see Rudy Render in Whittier.
Mar 29 A belated birthday party at his parents house. Cake and ice cream are served and guests include Ginny Jackson (who brings champagne), and John & Marvel Lawrence (who bring framed maps). Stepfather Gene gives him $20 and mother Berniece $5. He gets a 10:45pm bus back to Northern California.
Apr 3

Writes home:

"Dear Mother,

Well honey nothing new has happened of interest since I have been back, but will write and tell you I miss you and family very much and let you know I am all right. I walked guard last night and today is going to be a sleepy one, that doesn’t mean I get to sleep, it just means I’m going to be sleepy.

The gas credit card I used that belonged to the Army has been returned and I will have to pay for the gas out of my own pocket which amounts to about 15.00.

Well Mother and Father and SIsters I will have to be running along I'll be seeing you all later. All my love to all.

Your son, Dave

P.S. Dentist appointment is scheduled for Friday next week. ”

Apr 22

Bobs Watson writes and plays the villian in "Wild Bill Hiccup" performed at the Central Service Club at 8:30pm. Janssen plays one of the barflies.

The other is played by a name that will be familiar - Martin Milner. Milner who will go on to TV success in "Route 66" and "Adam 12" in the 60's and 70's is also a fledgling Hollywood actor whose Ft. Ord time coincides with Janssen's. Janssen and Milner are friends on the base and will room together for a short time after their respective discharges. They will also appear together in FRANCIS IN THE NAVY and later in a "Route 66" episode ("One Tiger To A Hill").

In what seems to be a case of prophetic typecasting, Janssen's role requires him to play "drunk", perhaps the first of many times he will do so. In later years, some of his most poignant acting moments will be as alcoholic characters, but, as evidenced by this additional scene, it's all played for laughs in this piece of Army Base fluff.

Another familiar name is finishing his Ft. Ord assignment about this time and has not yet launched a career in front of or behind the camera. The swimming instructor (part of the Ft. Ord's Division of Faculty-not Special Services) was none other than Clint Eastwood. He may have has a passing acquaintance with Janssen and Milner but they really didn't travel in the same base circles--the Hollywood publicity machine would late exagerate Janssen's friendship with Clint in these military years and even Janssen's role in steering him towards his career direction. It is a coincidence that Eastwood would too land a Universal Talent School contract. His screen test, done on April 26, 1954 occured as Janssen was finishing his last 2 months of active duty. When Janssen resumed his acting career at the studio in June of that year, Eastwood would be a fellow classmate.

"Wild Bill Hiccup" also featured in the role of "Josephine Hiccup" was the director of the Central Service Club, a woman 8 years David's senior. Her name was Marie Josephine "Joey" Stilson. Characterized by a fellow soldier as "a dead ringer for Doris Day", Joey's significance in Janssen's life would soon reveal itself.

May 5 Berniece logs David’s debt to her now at $507.90.
May 11 David remembers to call his mother on her 43rd birthday.
May 15

The FORT ORD PANORAMA, the base newspaper, publishes a profile on now Pfc. (Private First Class) Dave Janssen.

May 30 Janssen MC's for visiting entertainer Elsa Lanchester's show held at the Central Service Club. Elsa performs despite a recent appendectomy operation. Her former accompanist Pvt. Ray Henderson is at the base and in the 6th Division Band.
Jun 18 Stepfather Gene loans David $30 and buys him a pair of shoes.
Jul 8

David sends a letter to mother Berniece in Alma Nebraska where she is visiting her parents (his grandparents) for most of July:

"Dear Mother,

Received your big letter today honey! Sorry as usual about not writting (sic), but a lot of work lately, football season starting & baseball still going on.

Marty & I recorded our first disk jockey show and are working on the next one. No pay as yet, but it looks good.

Real happy about Jill, I'll bet she was real cute, however how they ever overlooked my cuttie (sic) Teri I'll never know. Tell them I think they are both dolls & I love them very much.

Well honey it looks like I won't be going overseas, but there are still 5 wks to get by, so keep your fingers crossed. Tell Grandma & Grandpa hello & give them my love. A lot of news to tell you, but can't seem to think of it when I'm writting (sic). Let me know when you get home and I'll take a 3 day pass.

See ya soon.

All my love

Your son Dave"

Marty, no doubt, is Martin Milner.
Aug 26 MC's a GI fashion show at the Central Service Club which features some soldiers in drag.
Aug 31 Janssen home for a couple of days goes clothes shopping with his mother. She buys him a jacket and some swim shorts.
Sep 1 Janssen, still home, buys some more clothes for himself. His agent and his family's friends, John and Marvel Lawrence, visit all evening before he needs to return to the base.
Sep 14 In the midst of a long leave from Ft. Ord. He comes to Los Angeles having just spent some time on vacation in Sacramento and most likely the family home of girlfriend Joey Stilson. He'll stay the coming week at his parents'.
Sep 15

Goes to Universal Studios for a visit.

Sep 17 Mother and son take in a double bill of EAST OF SUMATRA with his friend Suzan Ball, and AN AFFAIR IN MONTE CARLO, a British import.
Sep 19 Dave and family have a late Saturday night in Long Beach where they attend a housewarming of their friends, the Riggs. They don't get home until 4:30am.
Sep 20 Still in LA and home all day resting. The family all goes out for Spanish food in Glendale at night.
Sep 21 Mom takes David to the bus depot to return to the base after an extended leave of well over a week.
Nov 7 David brings friend Pete Wilson home on this weekend leave. Takes the Cadillac out for the evening.
Nov 8 The Janssen family along with Pete Wilson have dinner at a Chinese restaurant on 6th and La Brea before they have to leave to go back to base.
Nov 11 Martin Milner and Janssen share MC duties on the base's Armistice Day show. They also perform an act together. The 8:30pm Central Service Club program includes Bob Williams (an RCA recording artist and brother of Andy), Ronny Draper (guitarist-vocalist), Lou McConkey (accordion), Denny Harbaugh (ukelele), Bobby Snyder (vocalist), Bob Navarro and Elmo Questell (bongos/Latin American songs), Joby Baker (comedian), and Don Spruance (tap dancer). The later 2 will also have professional acting careers in the decades to follow.
Nov 23

Sends a letter home. As usual it has its fair share of mispellings:

"Dear Mother:

Received your letters and have just found time to reply. We have had a change in personnel. Col (Adolph F.) Solomon leaving for overseas. He was replaced by a new Col name of (Julius C.) Reeder, seems to be a nice guy, but never will come up to Solomons caliber. We were all very sorry to see Col Solmonom go, but he has been getting out of over seas orders now for about a year and I guess they finnaly cought up with him.

I'm sending the fan letters back to you. I get a laugh out of some of them. They all say I am there favorite star. I bet most of them did'nt know that I had quite a small part in all of the pictures. They probably got me confused with someone with a bigger part.. Well I’m glad they did if it helps me at the Studio.

Nothing new around here. Joey (Stilson) will not be able to comedown for Thanksgiving and the way it looks I wont be coming home. The Christmas rush is really begining to show around here. My job of purchasing agent for SSO makes me even less likely to get off. I’ve been working like mad to keep up with all the orders for Christmas. Over 5,000.00 has been spent already and thats only the begining. 

I want to get everybody something for Christmas, even if it is something small. So please send a list of things you and father wouild like to have and also the kids.

Say that is some picture of Jill. Tell her if she does that all the time she will get cross eyed.

Sorry to hear Grandma is not feeling well, I will get a letter off to her soon as possible.

Thanks for the suit idea. It will sure be nice to have. My grey one is about gone through and I don’t see how I could have gotten one for myself. I don’t think a blue one though. My blue one if I can get it fixed will be all right. Not what we thought it would be when we bought it, but good enough for awhile. I don’t think Browns are making as good a suit as they used to. I think I will do business elsewhere. The cut of there clothes seems to be old news. I have seen some good clothes around here, that have come from San Francisco. Pete (Wilson*) just bought 2 new suits very nice. He wanted Silk Changton, but bought a fabric similar, it cost more so I guess it must be better. I haven't seen it yet so can't say.

Well mother I might get home next wk end but not in time for Thanksgiving. I'll call if it looks like I might get off. See you all later!  


Your Son David"  

This letter hints at the relationship that has developed between Janssen and his Central Service Club director Joey Stilson.

*Pete Wilson will become a lifelong friend to Janssen and to Martin Milner as well. He was from a wealthy Northern California family and excelled in baseball pitching for the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. He ultimately had a career in horseracing and was the person responsble for Janssen's brief flirtation with horse ownership (link).           

Nov 30 Despite being active in the military for a year and a half, fan mail from the films which have been released during his service trickle in. Berniece answers this mail but puts the envelope, cardboard, and postage costs on her son's running tally--now up to $653.05.
Dec 25

David calls home collect.

Berniece's treatment of David with respect to money is a source of conflict between her and David's stepfather Gene. He goes on record to say that when they are old enough the girls won't get the kind of financial support that Berniece affords her son.

Dec 29

David Janssen and Joey Stilson get engaged.

An evening announcement party and candle ceremony is held at Stilson’s Fort Ord home attended by 100 guests including Lt. Colonel and Mrs. Julius Reeder. In her job as director of the Central Service Club for 1-1/2 years, she's collaborated many entertainment functions with Janssen who has now made the rank of Corporal. The announcement reveals plans for a Spring 1954 wedding and that the newlyweds will live in Hollywood when Janssen is discharged in June. These plans never come to fruition.

The Stilson family recalls Janssen during the short-lived romance. Her family had a dairy farm in the nearby community of Galt. He came to visit for a few days with Joey on leave and the family was haying the farm. David insisted on helping and came out in the morning bare to the waist. After 20 minutes he was chafed and in pain and had ot run to the coolness of the reservoir for relief.

It's unclear when the engagement is called off.

One theory is that Joey accompanied David to Los Angeles on a leave and after meeting his family, saw him in the context of the show business crowd she'd be marrying into. His behavior around actors at a Hollywood party was different than the soldier she knew at Fort Ord. She decided the life was not for her.

November 1964's PHOTOPLAY magazine is one of the only press references to the engagement. In its account, Janssen's impulse to propose was a confused by-product of the loneliness he was experiencing as a soldier. He came to a clearer understanding of his true feelings as his discharge drew near. He's quoted as saying, "Two months after I got out of the Army, I broke the engagement (NOTE: it's more likely he broke it off before his discharge) ...If anyone was to blame it was I, because I wasn't ready for marriage and I suppose I should have realized it. The girl was lovely, but she wasn't the right one for me, so she's lucky we called things off before they got any further, I hope she knows that I did her a favor when I said 'goodbye'."

What is known is that Joey never married. She became a school teacher and worked in the latw 50's at the esteemed Punahou School in Honolulu Hawaii, later attended by Barack Obama . She returned to California in the 70's spending her last years in Costa Mesa. She died quite ironically in February 1980, within days of Janssen, at the age of 56.

Dec 31 David comes down again to his parents' house with Pete Wilson for New Years Eve and a cake for sister Teri's 11th birthday. A few other attend the party at the family Finley apartment including David's friend Art Leon and an 'Ann Toth' (who might have been the Hollywood extra who was involved in the 1947 Black Dahlia murder case as the victim's ex-roommate).


Jan 1
in Los Angeles.
Jan 2 David and friend Pete Wilson visit the U-I lot in the Janssen family Cadillac.
Jan 3 David, Pete, and Martin Milner leave together to Ft. Ord at 3pm.
Jan 15 takes another weekend leave home retuning on Sunday the 17th.
Feb 5 Back in Los Angeles.
Feb 6 Went to the races in Santa Anita with Pete Wilson.
Feb 7 With his release from the Army imminent (4 months away) the family anticipates his transportation needs and gets him a car. Berniece loans him a down payment of $400 on what is believed to be the 51 Mercury 4-door sedan that he'll keep until September of 55.
Feb 10

a Talent Scout entertainment program is held at the Central Service Club at 8:30p.

Corporal Janssen MC's the show which takes its format from Arthur Godfrey's show---each performer is introduced by a 'discoverer'.

Feb 25 David is at fiancee Joey Stilson's house in Northern California and calls home to say they are coming for a visit.
Feb 26 Arrives in Los Angeles with Joey.
Feb 27 Gene and Berniece along with David and Joey take in a morning performance of a play "The Country Girl" with Jean Parker and Hugh Beaumont at the Ring Theater. In the afternoon they drive out to the San Fernando Valley for fresh eggs and fried chicken.
Feb 28

The engaged couple go to the dance recital of David's sisters--Teri (11) and Jill (8). Also along are David's parents, agent Jack Donaldson, Ann Toth, and John & Marvel Lawrence.

In the evening they have dinner at the Chinese restaurant at 6th and La Brea.

Mar 1 David gets a war bond.
Mar 3 MC's the base's 1st eliminations in the All-Army Talent contest. Fort Ord eliminations will go on for 5 weeks, followed by a Southern Section and then a full 6th Army final. The ultimate showdown to be held in NY in June will yield a winner who will appear on TV's "Showcase".
Mar 6

Came home to his parent's apartment during the night and had his car looked over during the day.

In the evening he may have attended a live performance of Beatrice Lilly with his agent Jack Donaldson.

Mar 7 Left to go back to base--not known if he's now driving his Merc back and forth on these trips.
Mar 10 MC's the base's 2nd eliminations in the All-Army Talent contest. Special Services' Bobs Watson competes.
Mar 17 MC's the base's 3rd eliminations in the All-Army Talent contest. Judges are faculty members from Monterey Peninsula College.
Mar 24 MC's the base's 4th eliminations in the All-Army Talent contest.
Mar 27

David spends 23rd birthday in Ft. Ord.

Berniece and his 2 sisters are working on a movie filming at the McKinley Home where David had gone to boarding school as a child.

Mar 31 The finals for the Fort Ord candidate in the All-Army Talent contest are held.
Apr 11

On leave to attend a Palm Sunday Santa Barbara, CA wedding of Universal acting peers Richard Long and Suzan Ball. They too were engaged in December of 1953, but their Spring wedding plans, unlike Janssen's, do materialize.

Ceremony is at 4pm at the El Montecito Church with the reception held afterwards in the Loggia Room of the nearby Biltmore Hotel. Ball whose leg was amputated 3 months earlier is wed with a new artificial limb. Though a limp was evident, Suzan does not rely on crutches. Rock Hudson, Jeff Chandler, Lori Nelson, Barbara Rush, Tony Curtis, Janet Leigh, Julie Adams, Mary Castle, Hugh O'Brian, Mala Powers, and more than a hundred other guests attend. Long's brother-in-law, actor Marshall Thompson, is the usher.

A cousin to Lucille, Ball was the actress Janssen spoke his only line to on his first U-I movie assignment UNTAMED FRONTIER in 1951. They next worked together on YANKEE BUCCANEER, the film that Richard Long first noticed her in before they met. He saw it while overseas in the Army. Later, on the film set of EAST OF SUMATRA, Suzan fell during a dance number and her leg developed tumors.

She will succumb to cancer in less than 16 months after this wedding day. But Janssen will get to do another film with her. They will both be assigned to CHIEF CRAZY HORSE in June right after Janssen is released from the Army.

A devistated Richard Long will marry again in 1957 to an understanding actress in the Universal fold. Second wife Mara Corday and Long become good friends of David in the 50's and they will share the same San Fernando Valley duplex in 1958.

Apr 13 Comes to LA with Pete Wilson again. Berniece gives David his War Bond plus gifts him with one due to her.
Apr 14 The boys take off for on leave for a week--they spend several days in Palm Springs and may end up in Las Vegas together.
Apr 20 David and Pete Wilson return from their trip.
Apr 27

On this Tuesday, David brings Leigh Snowden to his parents' home for dinner. This signals a change in David's engagement status may have occured during the last 2 months. She makes a favorable impression.

David and Leigh will spend a lot of time in LA over the course of the next several days - sometimes in the company of Leigh's friend Bobbie. On Sunday (May 2) he'll cook dinner for the two of them at his parent's apartment.

It's not clear how they meet. Snowden is a pretty blond who has been dabbling in modeling and singing. Her just completed gig was as Queen of the LA Pan-Pacific Outdoor Show which wrapped up this past weekend. Recently living in Northern San Francisco she's about to or has just relocated to Hollywood to step up the pursuit of her show business goals. Snowden will land a spot on the Universal-International talent school roster in 1955, when Janssen is back working there. Though their romance (if it is one) will die down shortly, they will act in several projects together over the next several years.

May 16 David goes back to the Army for mustering out.
May 26 Berniece goes to court on behalf of David regarding his parking ticket.
Jun 3 Receives his honorable release from U.S. Army with his last rank being a Corporal.

The end of 2 lost years. Janssen is quite happy to return full time to Hollywood and his pre-Army life. A broken engagement behind him, the decks are now clear for him to resume acting at Universal and his carefree bachelor lifestyle.



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