Although Brandon DeWilde's mother was an actress and his father a stage manager, the boy didn't express any interest in performing himself until show business was virtually thrust upon him. In 1950, a friend of DeWilde's father, a Broadway casting director, mentioned that he was looking for a sensitive youngster to play a key juvenile role in the upcoming production A Member of the Wedding. DeWilde senior volunteered Brandon; despite a shaky opening night, the 7-year-old boy stayed with the show for well over a year, winning the coveted Donaldson Award for his performance--the first child actor to do so. Brandon was brought to Hollywood in 1952 for the film version of Wedding. One year later, he was Oscar-nominated for his unforgettable performance as a hero-worshipping frontier boy in George Stevens' Shane. In 1954, he was starred in the brief TV sitcom Jamie, holding his own opposite veteran scene-stealer Ernest Truex. DeWilde made a successful transition to teenaged roles as the unwed father in 1959's Blue Denim. He went on to play the younger brother of Warren Beatty in All Fall Down (1961) and the nephew of Paul Newman in Hud (1963)--in both instances displaying his now-familiar character traits of idolatry and disillusionment. While in Denver to appear in a 1972 stage production of Butterflies are Free, 30-year-old Brandon DeWilde was killed in an auto accident.