David Janssen

David Janssen's portrayal of Dr. Richard Kimble was the major reason for The Fugitive's success and enduring popularity. "David fit beautifully," said George Eckstein, Fugitive writer and co-producer. "We are in a world where there is an increasing sense of alienation, frustration and helplessness on the part of the individual, and this was such a strong dramatization of that syndrome. I think people really identified with that." To television viewers, David Janssen WAS Dr. Richard Kimble. They experienced Kimble's grief following his wife's murder, his fear during his flight from police Lieutenant Philip Gerard, and his anger and frustration as he chased the one-armed man who murdered his wife.

"Sure I understood Richard Kimble," Janssen told TV Guide's Dwight Whitney. "He is not too far removed from what I am in general. It is the sort of part you can't reach too far outside yourself and successfully play. I relate physically and emotionally. How else could I have done it?"

Adorable. Vulnerable. Sensitive. Those were all words used to describe David Janssen. Certainly his magnetism was universal. "He appealed to both men and women the way Clark Gable did," said John Conwell. "He was a woman's man and a man's man. He had tremendous sex appeal. You just liked him and you wanted him to win all the time."

Long before he played Richard Kimble, David Janssen was born David Harold Meyer in tiny Naponee, Nebraska on March 27, 1931. When he was three, David won a Sears & Roebuck beautiful-baby contest and at age eight he moved to Los Angeles with his mother Berniece, who enrolled David in acting lessons and had him performing in little plays all over Hollywood. In high school he developed into a fine athlete, specifically basketball and pole vaulting. After a serious knee injury while pole vaulting, he turned to acting full-time appearing in some minor motion picture roles before landing the part of Richard Diamond, Private Eye from 1957-60. In 1962 producer Quinn Martin selected David for the role of Dr. Richard Kimble, which he would play from 1963-67.

In 1974-76 David returned to television as Harry O . He continued to appear in motion pictures (over 100 to his credit), television movies and miniseries until 1980. On February 13, 1980, after suffering a heart attack at his Malibu beachfront home, David Janssen died at the age of 48.