Here’s What Happened to ‘Family Affair’ Actor Brian Keith Before, During and After the Classic TV Show

Over the course of a career that spanned some seven decades, actor Brian Keith starred in more than 60 movies and headlined numerous TV series. But out of all of them, the true standouts, as far as he — and the audience — was concerned were Disney’s original version of The Parent Trap, starring Hayley Mills, and the 1960s Classic TV sitcom Family Affair. The possible reason for his close identification with them was the fact that, in many ways, they reflected him as a person more than his other roles had.

“He was a grounded human being,” suggests pop culture historian Geoffrey Mark, “who was good looking enough and talented enough to make a living in show business, but his heart was more about his family, his kids, the people he loved and the things he got to do with them because of the money he was making. I don’t think he was as married to his stardom as some other actors of his generation were.”

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Walt Disney Pictures

“Most people in show business who are truly happy, make certain that they have a successful personal life as well as a successful career,” he adds. “They don’t choose to abandon or disregard their personal life just to have success; they don’t ignore it to be a celebrity. The other side of that is if you don’t pay enough attention to your career, you end up doing a lot of crap for the money. My opinion is that Brian did not advocate for the quality of work that he should have. He took what came along with a paycheck attached to it, as opposed to, ‘I’m’ not going to work for a year or two until I find just the right script.’”

Speaking to the Press and Sun-Bulletin in 1966, Brian pointed out that despite the fact both his parents were actors, he had no intention of going on the stage himself. In fact, he had his heart set on a career at sea, and to launch himself, he wanted to attend the Merchant Marine Academy. “But algebra made me a star,” he said. “You can’t be a ship’s officer without passing a few math courses and I came up with a big fat zero in algebra. In fact, no matter how many times I repeated the course, it still came up zero. So it was goodbye Navy career.”

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