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The Tragic & Sudden Death of David Janssen

David Janssen was an iconic television actor best known for his role as Richard Kimble in the beloved television series The Fugitive. That wasn’t his only time playing a starring role, however. Throughout his career, Janssen would play the title role in three other television series, and appear in countless other shows and films. He began his career in 1945, when he was just thirteen years old, and would continue acting right up until his tragic and unexpected death in 1980.

David Janssen was born on March 27th, 1931, to Harold and Berniece Meyer in a small village in southern Nebraska. When he was only five, however, his parents divorced, and Janssen’s mother took him to Los Angeles. She remarried a man named Eugene Janssen, whose name David Janssen used when beginning his career.

David Janssen appeared in his first film when he was only thirteen years old. By the time he was 25, he had already acted in a total of 20 films. Of course, the height of his career wouldn’t arrive until he was in his early thirties, after landing the starring role in the hit television film The Fugitive.

David Jenssen would go on to act in many more films and television shows, inspiring people all over the world with his winning personality and impressive acting skills. His millions of adoring fans counted on him to act in many more films and shows, and his tragic death in 1980 left the whole nation shocked. While he accomplished a great deal throughout his life, we can only imagine what else David Janssen could have done had he not died so young. Many of his fellow stars expressed a great deal of sadness at his passing, and remembered him as a kind and talented man.

In today’s video, we’re going to take a look at the long life and legacy of David Janssen, who will always be remembered for his amazing contributions to film and television. Make sure you stick around, because we’re also going to reveal what caused his sudden and tragic death.

One of the World’s Biggest Stars

Even forty years after Janssen’s death, he is still remembered as being one of the biggest stars in the history of Hollywood. Even TV Guide ranked him number 36 on its 1996 list of 50 Greatest Stars of All Time. His career spanned a total of 35 years, and he continued to work hard right up until his death. He had an extensive filmography in both film and television, and he played dozens of significant roles throughout his career.

He inspired countless other actors, who were impressed by his acting skills and touched by his kind demeanor even when the cameras weren’t rolling.

David Janssen’s Tragic and Sudden Death

David Janssen drank and smoked heavily throughout his life, but his death at just 48 years old came as an unexpected tragedy all the same. Early in the morning on February 13th, 1980, David Janssen suffered a heart attack that would take his life. His wife, Dani Crayne, was horrified to discover that he was no longer breathing, and called 911 and the fire department. Tragically, however, David Janssen’s life had come to an end.

Celebrities all over the nation were devastated by the news, and many came to his funeral to pay their respects.

He Once Held Cher as a Baby

Today, Cher is recognized as a musical icon, so much so that she is often referred to as “The Goddess of Pop.” As a baby, of course, nobody knew just how famous she would become. When Cher was just three years old, her mother, Georgia Holt, had difficulty finding a babysitter when she was due to film a watch commercial. Right before filming, she saw an 18-year-old David Janssen and asked him to hold young Cher while she worked. Janssen, of course, agreed, and held Cher until her mother was finished filming.

He Was One of the Hardest Working Actors

Most people imagine that actors live a cushy lifestyle. After all, A-list actors are extremely high-paid, and live in luxury. Despite David Janssen’s reputation as a huge star, however, his work wasn’t at all easy. In fact, even today, he is still considered to be one of the hardest working actors in history. Janssen devoted much of his time to acting, and often spent 12 to 14 hours a day working! He would often skip out on fun social events, and even miss dinner as a result of his brutal schedule! Barry Morse, who was both a close friend as well as Janssen’s costar in The Fugitive, explained that every actor at the time knew he was the hardest working of them all.

He Was Incredibly Athletic in High School

Before David Janssen found his calling as an actor, he spent his youth involved in numerous sports. In high school, he was a star in both track and basketball. While he would never go on to become a famous athlete, he still remained quite fond of sports. In 1948, he even attempted a pole vault for some reporters who worked for the Hollywood Citizen News. Unfortunately, the pole vault didn’t go smoothly, and he ended up twisting his right knee.

The injury didn’t deter Janssen from continuing athletic stints, however, and in 1970, he hosted “Highlights of the Ice Capades” while wearing ice skates himself!

He Has a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

David Janssen was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his amazing contributions to television. The star’s ceremony took place on his mother’s birthday in the year 1989, and was specially placed right in front of David Janssen’s favorite ice cream shop from when he was a kid.

He Was a Heavy Smoker

David Janssen was notorious for being a heavy smoker. In fact, he was known to smoke four packs of cigarettes every day! Sadly, this heavy smoking certainly took a toll on his health.. After his death from a heart attack, an autopsy revealed that the smoking had caused a great deal of damage to both his lungs and mouth. Furthermore, his liver showed signs of severe alcoholism. Altogether, the cause of his death was likely from blockage to three of his main arteries, which was a result of his smoking.

Make sure you stick around until the very end, because we’re also going to reveal how David Janssen nearly had plastic surgery! And if you’re enjoying this video so far, please take a moment to like this video, and don’t forget to subscribe to Facts Verse for more!

He Was Beloved By Everyone

There are many famous celebrities who have millions of adoring fans, but when the cameras aren’t rolling, they are rude and difficult to work with. David Janssen, however, was never one of these people. All of his colleagues and friends were touched by Janssen’s bright and kind personality.

Janssen’s publicist, Frank Liberman, had countless famous clients throughout his career, including Nat “King” Cole, William Shatner, and Henry Fonda. Liberman himself confessed, however, that out of all his clients, Janssen was by far one of his favorites. Many other stars deeply mourned Janssen’s death, expressing just how kind and loving he was to everyone he met.

He Was Strongly Against the Vietnam War

An outspoken liberal Democrat all his life, David Janssen was majorly against the Vietnam War. However, because he was involved in the film The Green Berets, many mistakenly believed that he actually supported the war.

He Was Friends with Many Famous Actors

In his early days, David Janssen enlisted in the United States Army and was posted in Fort Ord, California. There, he met Martin Milner and Clint Eastwood, who were both also enlisted at the time. He would later attend University classes with Clint Eastwood, as well. While these were the first famous friends that David Janssen made, they certainly weren’t the last.

David Janssen was also very close friends with actor Richard Harris. When Harris learned of Janssen’s death, he was so upset that he sat out in the snow for several hours out of grief. Finally, David Janssen was also friends with Stuart Whitman, who happened to be driving by his house at the time of his death. Whitman saw ambulances and a fire truck, and rushed by to see what was the matter. He was stricken by Janssen’s death, but comforted his widowed wife, Dani Crayne, throughout the ordeal.

He Loved to Read

David Janssen was known for being an avid reader. He read whenever he had free time. Whenever he found a new book to read, he’d order two copies. One would be sent to his home in Los Angeles, and the other would be sent to his second home in Palm Springs. Being a rich and famous actor certainly has its perks!

He Almost Had Plastic Surgery

One of the worst things about Hollywood is how often it manufactures its actors into perfect models. Many women actors develop eating disorders based on the pressure to be thinner, and many other actors have plastic surgery to change their facial features.

At the beginning of his career, it was suggested to David Janssen that he have plastic surgery done on his ears in order to make them less prominent. Janssen was resolute, however, and refused to have the surgery. It’s a good thing he didn’t! David Janssen’s ears are part of what makes him so recognizable. Instead of trying to “fix” our features that make us unique, it’s better that we embrace them. After all, how boring would it be if everyone had the same features?

David Janssen was one of the most hardworking and influential stars of his time. Were you more surprised to learn that he was a kind and gentle man in real life, or that he refused to get plastic surgery performed on his ears? Let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to subscribe to Facts Verse for more!

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