David Brian; Suave Actor in Movies, 1950s TV Series


David Brian, handsome, suave actor perhaps best remembered for his early television series, “Mr. District Attorney,” and as the leading man in several Joan Crawford films, has died. He was 82.

Brian died Thursday at his Sherman Oaks home of cancer and heart failure, his wife, actress Adrian Booth, said Friday.

As crime-busting New York Dist. Atty. Paul Garrett, Brian starred in his own series in 1954 and 1955. Switching to a black hat, he later played smooth villains in such popular television series as “Police Story” and in Westerns and crime films.

Crawford discovered Brian on the New York stage and brought him to Hollywood to make his film debut opposite her in “Flamingo Road” in 1949. He also starred with her in “The Damned Don’t Cry” and “This Woman Is Dangerous.”


Despite success as a leading man, Brian was unconvinced that making love to a great actress on screen would make him a star.

“Don’t get the idea that I’m against pretty dolls,” he told The Times in 1955. “It’s just that an actor doesn’t have a chance emoting while the Lana Turners, Marilyn Monroes, Jane Russells or Joan Crawfords are in camera view. Nobody in his right mind is going to watch a mere man.”

A native of New York who was educated at City College there, Brian began his career on Broadway as a doorman and chorus boy and drifted into vaudeville and nightclubs as a song and dance man.

After service with the Coast Guard in World War II, he returned to the stage, appearing in such shows as “Let ‘Em Eat Cake,” “Crazy Quilt,” “Beat the Band” and “Candle in the Wind.”


In Hollywood, Brian had important roles in the critically acclaimed “Intruder in the Dust” in 1949, which was based on a William Faulkner novel, and in several quality Westerns including “Ft. Worth,” “Springfield Rifle,” “Ambush at Tomahawk Gap” and “Dawn at Socorro.”

He was a major fund-raiser for Volunteers of America and in 1956 was named honorary mayor of Reseda.

In addition to his wife, he leaves a brother-in-law, Howard Pound, and his family of Chatsworth, and his nurse of 15 years, Carlos Iraheta.

Services are scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday in the John Ford Chapel at the Motion Picture and Television Hospital in Woodland Hills.

The family has asked that any memorial contributions be made to the Ford chapel for the purchase of chapel bells in Brian’s honor.