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This website is a result of my staying up past my bedtime.
New Jersey suburbs. November 29, 1966.
I'm 11 and bored beyond belief. And TV is my friend. But the TV shows I know and love are the mindless situation comedies of the day – GREEN ACRES is up there on the list, GET SMART, THE FLYING NUN.
But on this Tuesday night, a school night, I decide to stay up secretively past my bedtime. With the Admiral turned down low, I tune in a black and white show a bit more adult in tone than what I'm used to. A FUGITIVE episode with guest stars Dean Jagger and Nancy Malone. There's just something about this central character and the actor playing him that I connect with immediately. And I'm pulled into the story by this Dr. Kimble in a way that Mr. Ed and Wilbur never did. I'm hooked.
In retrospect, this night's offering, RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SEASON, was not a particularly memorable episode of the 120 FUGITIVES made. But there was something powerful about what I was seeing and I knew, even at this young age, that a talented hand must have been at work.
Perhaps he spoke to my own adolescent loneliness in the role. Maybe he was a surrogate father figure. I'll let the Freudian psychologists wrestle with that one. Unquestionably, David Janssen was someone who was doing excellent work which was impossible not to respond to. The coincidence of a perfectly suited role and an actor enjoying his career apex was a powerful thing to watch.
Like many who shared a similar introduction to this actor through his seminal role on THE FUGITIVE, I followed with interest his career as I grew into adulthood. There were a few good movies and a few too many bad ones. I liked the HARRY O show.
But at times he was disappointingly awkward to watch. In his final roles, it appeared sometimes that he was drawing rather mechanically from a bag of tricks which had served him so well in the past. Despite occasional flashes of on-screen honesty, he seemed too often disengaged from the dramatic situations he was playing (which he probably was in the absence of the best scripts). His rapid graying, more-gravelly-than-usual deliveries, and exaggerated modulations should have signaled something to the observer beyond temporary fatigue. In my case it didn't. Consequently, I was shocked and saddened by his death in 1980 at the age of 48 and the knowledge that the Dr. Richard Kimble of my youth would not be making a strong return.
When I discovered that there was virtually nothing on David Janssen's life or career in print I decided he deserved to be acknowledged in some way. The Internet seemed to be the potentially farthest reaching of the options available.
This site is an attempt to keep David Janssen's name out there. It will try to be a repository of information about his life and career – an archive in the truest sense.
Janssen was an actor capable of an unparalleled verisimilitude on the screen. When he was good, we were drawn in by the truth in his performance and his ability to engage the audience members intimately. As a person, he got consistent high marks from his peers.
Hopefully this site will reach not only his numerous hard-core fans, but also the uninitiated. With luck some of his friends, acquaintances and co-workers in Hollywood will find themselves here as well. It's our hope that the discussion board section will promote a healthy dialogue amongst all of the above visitors.
This website can grow to the extent that people participate in its growth. Please contribute if you can by sharing your opinions, questions, information, and experiences.
Welcome. We're glad you're here.
This is a not-for-profit fan site. It is not the intention to have violated any copyrights in the process of assembling this project. What is contained herein has been thoroughly researched, but has relied in some cases on the memories of people many years after the fact. Should there be an inaccuracy which needs to be addressed, or any photo posted which is inappropriate with respect to ownership, please contact us so that we can correct the problem.
Also please don't steal from this site. A great deal of work has gone into its realization and it's on the Internet to be read and enjoyed. But it may not be re-used for any commercial or non-commercial purpose without prior permission. This applies to both photos and text information. Please ask first. Thank you.