David Janssen would have been 81 years old today.
Tragically, he died at the young age of 48. But his outstanding work as an actor on TV and in numerous movies will live on forever.
Joe and I have been watching and enjoying The Fugitive series (the show that made David Janssen a TV star and a household name) on DVD’s in the past few months. The complete series was not available until a couple of years ago. And with its release, the interest in David Janssen’s work once again came to the attention of fans from long ago. New fans too (young and old) and many people who were not even alive when the original series aired in the 1960’s.
I was a kid at the time but I still remember the excitement of watching the series then. All the way to the final show (which at the time broke all U.S. audience records for any TV episode). When the quest for the one-armed man comes to an end and Dr. Richard Kimble (David Janssen’s character) is finally vindicated after being wrongly convicted of murdering his wife.
It was always rumoured that The Fugitive was loosely based on the real life story of Dr. Sam Sheppard and the wrongful conviction for the murder of his wife but the producers of The Fugitive denied any connection to this real life story. The similarities are certainly there.
What remains fresh and relevant watching this series again: The superb acting skills of David Janssen. The stellar supporting cast including the late, great Barry Morse who brillantly portrayed Lieutenant Gerard, who is obsessed with the re-capture of Dr. Kimble, week after week.
Also, many of the values of that era, still ring true. Many times, Dr. Kimble puts himself into danger of being caught, hurt or killed, simply to follow his ethics and moral code as a doctor of medicine, first and foremost. The beliefs that never leave him. To do “the right thing” when it is the hardest choice of all.
And there is the nostalgia of watching the day-to-day realities of life in the 60’s. The people who helped and believed in the innocence of Dr. Kimble in spite of the danger to themselves. Seeing the portrayal of children in this simpler time too. Not all good but so much that is. Heartwarming, in a bittersweet way, in spite of the sadness of the plight of the lead character and the challenges that he faces, week after week. It all adds up to a series that is as entertaining now as it was all those years ago. And seeing it as an adult, gives a whole new dimension to the enjoyment too.
Happy Birthday David. You will never be forgotten. ♥