Actor Bradford Dillman, who starred as Edmund in the original Broadway production of Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night and had an impressive film and TV career, died on January 16 in Santa Barbara, CA. He was 87 and suffered complications from pneumonia, according to Ted Gekis of Gekis-Ribera personal management.
Dillman was also known as the co-star with Dean Stockwell in the 1959 crime drama Compulsion, where he played killer Arthur A. Straus, a role modeled after the Leopold & Loeb case from the 1920s, where two teens killed a child in an attempt to create the perfect murder. One of his career highlights was sharing best actor honors with Stockwell and Orson Welles (who played their attorney) at the 1959 Cannes Film Festival.
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He was Robert Redford’s best friend in 1973’s The Way We Were, and also appeared in the Clint Eastwood Dirty Harry series, playing in The Enforcer (1976) and Sudden Impact (1983). He also had a major role in 1973’s The Iceman Cometh, playing Willie Oban in an adaptation directed by John Frankenheimer for the American Film Theater.
Dillman won a Theater World Awards for his Broadway debut in 1956 in Long Day’s Journey into Night, creating the role of the author’s alter ego, Edmund Tyrone, for 390 performances.
The lanky actor was born April 14, 1930, in San Francisco, the third of four children, spending summers in Santa Barbara acting in local theater productions.
He later attended Yale University, then entered the U.S. Marine Corps and served as a lieutenant in the Korean War. After his honorable discharge, Dillman auditioned for Lee Strasburg and entered the Actors Studio alongside fellow classmates James Dean and Marilyn Monroe.
Following Long Day’s Journey Into Night and a later role in Katharine Cornell’s Hallmark Hall of Fame production of Robert E. Sherwood’s Pulitzer Prize-winning There Shall Be No Night, Dillman signed to 20th Century Fox.
He appeared in the 1958 films A Certain Smile and In Love and War, scoring a Golden Globe for most promising newcomer — male in 1959.
In addition to his many film roles, Dillman became a TV staple in the 1960s and 1970s. He had a recurring role on the drama Dr. Kildare and starred with Peter Graves in the short-lived series Court Martial. He also appeared on such shows as The Name of the Game; The Wild, Wild West; Mission: Impossible; The Man From U.N.C.L.E.; Columbo; Ironside; Barnaby Jones; and The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
His autobiography, Are You Anybody?: An Actor’s Life, was published in 1997. He wrote a book himself, penning Inside the New York Giants, published in 1995.
Survivors include his children Jeffrey, Pamela, Charlie, Christopher and Dinah and stepdaughter Georgia. He was married to Frieda Harding McIntosh. He was married to model/actress Suzy Parker from 1963 until her death in 2003.
The family is requesting donations in his memory to the Visiting Nurse and Hospice Care in Santa Barbara.
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