Here’s What Happened to Actor David Janssen Before, During and After Starring in ‘The Fugitive’

In 1962, actor David Janssen was sounding a little frustrated over his movie career. Critically acclaimed as his performances may have been, many of those films themselves did not go over that well. Adding to that frustration was the fact that he had enjoyed three successful years starring in Richard Diamond, Private Detective (which introduced Mary Tyler Moore — or at least her legs — to the world as his never-seen secretary) and believed that that success would propel him to big-screen stardom. This was also about a year before he starred in the television series he’s most remembered for, The Fugitive (yes, someone played Dr. Richard Kimble before Harrison Ford did on the big screen).

“My first picture, Hell to Eternity, was a hit with the critics and it made money,” David related to The Times of San Mateo, California. “After that came the disasters. Remember Dondi? No? Well, neither does anyone else. That picture brought back radio and home slides; it was one of the great bombs of our time. Then there was King of the Roaring ’20s. I played a gangster. The picture wasn’t a catastrophe, but it wasn’t a threat to West Side Story either. Twenty Plus Two was a turkey. Not just the ordinary run of the mill variety, this bird was turkey a la king. After that, I settled for an adventure drama, Ring of Fire, and it was a qualified disappointment. The sixth was Mantrap and it just sort of laid there. You might say it got less than critical acclaim.”

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Now flash forward just two years later to an interview he gave to the Oakland Tribune before The Fugitive had ended its first season. “I’ve had many surprises in my acting career,” he said, “but nothing compares with my astonishment over the number of calls I get each week about Dr. Richard Kimble, the man I play on The Fugitive. Recently a two-line personal in the Los Angeles Times notified Dr. Richard Kimble that the one-armed man had been seen in Laguna Beach. None of our publicists had anything to do with this and to this day I don’t know who placed the ad or why.”

Added the newspaper, “Several days later, Janssen got a phone call from a woman who identified herself as Mrs. Richard Kimble. She wanted to know the first name of the Mrs. Kimble Janssen had been falsely convicted of slaying. When David told her the show’s Mrs. Kimble’s name was Helen, the caller gave a sigh of relief and stated her name is Marian.”

While you’re pondering whether or not that Mrs. Kimble was ever able to figure out her reality, please scroll down for more on the life and career of David Janssen.