Who was Brandon deWilde?
Brandon deWilde was an American actor who rose to fame as a child star in the 1950s. He was born on April 9, 1942, in Brooklyn, New York, into a theatrical family. He made his Broadway debut at the age of seven in The Member of the Wedding, for which he won a Donaldson Award, becoming the youngest actor to win one.
He is best known for his role as Joey Starrett, the young boy who idolizes the mysterious gunman Shane, played by Alan Ladd, in the classic Western film Shane (1953). He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role, becoming the youngest nominee at the time in a competitive category. He also starred in his own television series, Jamie, which aired in 1953 and 1954.
How did Brandon deWilde die?
Brandon deWilde died on July 6, 1972, at the age of 30, from injuries sustained in a traffic accident in the Denver suburb of Lakewood, Colorado. He was driving a camper van that went off the roadway, struck a guardrail, and then a parked truck. DeWilde was alone in his vehicle and not wearing a seatbelt. His camper rolled onto its side and pinned him into the wreckage. He was taken to St. Anthony Hospital, where he died at 7:20 p.m.
He had been in the Denver area to co-star in the Elitch Theatre production of Butterflies Are Free, which ended July 1, 1972. He was on his way to visit his wife, Janice Gero, at a hospital where she had recently undergone surgery. He had married Gero in March 1972, after divorcing his first wife, Susan Maw, in 1970.
What was the impact of Brandon deWilde’s death?
Brandon deWilde’s death was a shocking and tragic loss for his family, friends, and fans, who mourned his untimely passing. His death also marked the end of an era of child stars who had captivated audiences with their innocence, charm, and talent. He was one of the few child actors who successfully transitioned to adult roles, and had a promising career ahead of him
His co-stars and colleagues also paid tribute to him in various ways, such as organizing fundraisers, dedicating songs, and writing obituaries. They remembered him as a loyal, supportive, and fun-loving person, who always had a smile on his face and a positive attitude. His death also inspired some artists to create works based on his life and legacy, such as the song “Cowboy Angel” by Gram Parsons, the novel “The Death of the Child Marcello” by Margaret Yourcenar, and the play “The Member of the Wedding” by Carson McCullers
Brandon deWilde’s cause of death was a tragic accident, but his legacy of acting and inspiration lives on in his family, friends, and anyone who is moved by his story