Don Keefer

Active - 1951 - 1997  |   Born - Aug 18, 1916   |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, Crime

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Pennsylvania-born actor Don Keefer enjoyed a 60-year-plus career on stage and screen that saw him range freely across character parts and leading roles in both fields. An actor from his youth, he started early playing leads, portraying the title role in The Adventures of Marco Polo for a production of the Child Study Association. He won the Clarence Derwent Award for his early work on Broadway, and spent his early career working alongside the likes of Ethel Barrymore, Helen Hayes, and José Ferrer, and under such directors as Moss Hart, Elia Kazan, and Margaret Webster (including the famed production of Othello starring Paul Robeson). Keefer was a charter member of the Actors' Studio, and originated the role of Bernard, the studious neighbor son-turned-lawyer in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman. He was the only actor to remain with the production for its entire Broadway run, and subsequently made his screen debut in 1951 in the movie adaptation of the play produced by Stanley Kramer and directed by Laslo Benedek. From that beginning, he went on to appear in more than 130 movie and television productions, in between theatrical work on both coasts (including a stint at the Theatre Group at UCLA under John Houseman). Highlights of his stage career include a highly acclaimed touring production of Anton Chekhov: The Human Comedy, focusing on the lighter side of Chekhov's work. On screen as on stage, Keefer played a wide variety of parts -- he made a fine villain-turned-neutral in "Winchester Quarantine," an early (and very powerful) episode of Have Gun Will Travel, but was equally good as Ensign Twitchell, the comically (yet tragically) over-eager and officious junior officer in Joseph Pevney's Away All Boats, during this same period. Don Keefer was still working in the late '90s, in movies such as Liar Liar and an episode of Profiler. But amid hundreds of portrayals, Keefer's single most memorable role for most viewers -- other than Bernard in Death of a Salesman -- is almost certainly that of Dan Hollis, the doomed neighbor whose birthday celebration comes to a hideous end (his head popping out of a giant jack-in-the-box) in the 1961 Twilight Zone show "It's a Good Life."

Movie Highlights

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