Figure 1.--Brandon is pictured here as John Thomas, the bespectecled younger brother in "Member of the Wedding".
Brandon was born April 9, 1942 in Brooklyn New York. He was the son of a stage manager and an actress. He made his broadway debut at seven in Member of the Wedding (1951) to great critical acclaim. He played again played the part of John Henry, the bespectacled bratty--overly imaginative 7-year old, in the film version (1952). (The producers originally wanted Tommy Rettig.) He was the first child actor ever to win the Donaldson Award for an outstanding stage performance. He also played Howey in the popular Broadway play, Mrs. McThing (1952). He became internationally famous the following year in the Western classic, Shane (1953) for which he received an Oscar nomination. His line, "Come back, Shane!" is one of the most famous movie lines of all history. One reviewer wrote, "It is Master DeWilde with his bright face, his clear voice, and his resolute boyish ways who steals the affection of the audience and clinches "Shane" as a most unusual film." He had a TV series, Jamie (1953-54), an unpretentious show which Brandon later recalled with affection. Brandon looked far younger than he was, but made few pictures as a teenager. The movie makers did not quite know what to do with him. He appeared in a variety of films and TV shows, but without any further memorable performances. He died at only 30 years of age due to injuries suffered in a car crash.
He was the son of a stage manager who was a former actor. His mother was also an actress. His dad was working as the stage manager of the "Member Of the Wedding". They had hoped to get Tommy Rettig for the part. A producer mentioned that a boy was needed for the part of the sensitive John Henry. They decided to audition Brandon.
Brandon was born April 9, 1942 in Brooklyn New York. Brandon as a young child expressed no real interest in acting. We have littkle information about his childhood at this time.
We have no information as to how Brandon normally dressed when not acting.
Brandon is best known for his peformances in Member of the Wedding and Shane. His line "Come back Shane!" has to be one of the 10 most memorable lines in the history of the movies. Brandon appeared afew times on television with any real notice before getting the part of John Thomas in Member of the Wedding.
Brandon made his broadway debut at seven in Member of the Wedding in 1951. His first performance was a little shaky, but he quickly mastered the role to great critical acclaim. He played again played the part of John Henry, the bespectacled bratty--overly imaginative 7-year old, in the 1952 film version . The producers had originally wanted Tommy Rettig. Brandon was the first child actor ever to win the Donaldson Award for an outstanding stage performance. He appeared in almost 500 Broadway performances and some additional performances on the road of Member of the Wedding. He also appeared on radio and on early television. The movie production of A Member of the Wedding was his movie debut. He received a Special Award by The Golden Globes in the category called "Best Juvenile Actor" for his performance in the film. The play is set during the summer on a hot day. Brandon wears bibfront shorts.
Brandon also played Howey in the popular Broadway play, Mrs. McThing. Mrs. McThing is today a little known play, in part because it was never made into a film. It was, however, a delightful comic romp by Mary Chase, the writer better known for another comedy--Harvey about a large imaginary rabbit. Chase in Mrs. McThing deals with the insistance of some parents that small boys should always scrub behind their ears and
demands for other adult standards of perfection. Mrs. McThing is a meddlesome witch, perhaps not on the same literary plane as Harvey, but a fun play nonetheless. Brandon played Howay, a normally rather mischevious boy. Brandon appears in both fancy little boys clothes and a pin-striped gangster suit.
Figure 2.--Brandon's performance in "Shane" was brilliant, especially his facial expression. The performance probably represents the premier performance depicting a child in the American West.
Brandon was very well received in "Member of the Wedding", but he became internationally famous the following year in the Western classic, "Shane"--possibly the greatest Western of all time. Brandon even received an Oscar nomination. It was his performance that made a good film a cinema classic. Shane, a former gunslinger is forced to strap on his gun again to protect homesteaders from a cattle baron. Bradon plays Joey, the son of one of the homesteaders who idolizes Shane. Brandon's line, "Come back, Shane!" is one of the most famous movie lines of all history. Brandon's performance in "Shane" was brilliant, especially his facial expression. I particularly remember him watching the fist fight and the time Shane demonstrates his draw. One reviewer wrote, "It is Master De Wilde with his bright face, his clear voice, and his resolute boyish ways who steals the affection of the audience and clinches Shane as a most unusual film." As a result of Shane Hedda Hopper dubbed Brandon the king of child actors. The performance probably represents the premier performance depicting a child in the American West. The only competition would be Claude Jarman, Jr. in "The Yearling". Given this performance, it is interesting that Brandon was from Brooklyn. His costuming is the plain clothes of the American West during the late 19th century.
Brandon had a family TV sitcom, Jamie, although we know very little about it. I do not recall seeing it on television at the time. It received little noticem however, and did not last. It was an unpretentious show which Brandon later recalled with affection. He stared with Ernest Truex.
Figure 2.--I think that this image is from Brandon's appearnce in "Good-bye My Lady".
This well done film is a perfecrt gamily movie that both kids and adults can enjoy. William Wellman is the director. The folm focuses on an orphaned boy named Skeeter (Brandon De Wilde) and his uncle Jesse Jackson (Walter Brennan), along with a little dog that brings joy into their lives. Skeeter lives with old Jesse in the Pascagula Swamp in Mississippi. The local lumber companies harvest cypress trees. One day Skeeter stumbles on an irreverent pooch that is unlike normal dogs. He laughs instead of barks. The dog is also able to pick up scents at remarkable distances and cleans itself in a feline fashion. Uncle Jesse agrees to allow Skeeter to keep the dog. Both De Wilde and Brennan give excellent and not overly sentimental performances. The beautiful black-and-white photography and an acoustic-guitar score make an important contribution.
An Missouri orphan runs away to follow his dreams in 1915. He work for a strict farmer who teaches him about himsels and his roots. Learning is npot made easy. The boy in the end makes it anf successfully runs a farm of his own.
Brandon looked far younger than he was, but made few pictures as a teenager. The movie makers did not quite know what to do with him. He appeared in a variety of films and TV shows, but without any further memorable performances. One of the most notable was Blue Denim un which he played the unwed father.
Acclaimed playwright William Inge adapted James Leo Herlihy's novel for John
Frankenheimer's film which stars Warren Beatty as Berry-Berry Willart. Willart wires his Ohio family from Florida for $200, claiming it was needed to save his ailing business. His kid brother, 15-year-old brother Clinton (Brandon De Wilde), arrives with the money. (Brandon was 20 years old, bur indeed looked like he was 15.) Clinton soon finds that the brother that he idealizes needs the money for bail to keep himself out of jail because he is cahrged for beating a prostitute. Clinton wants to stay, but his big brother sends him home, the last place the bored teenager wants to be. Conditions at home, however, improve, however, when a beautiful boarder arrives to teach school.
Brandon's scene as Joey in "Shane" at the end of the film, "Shane! Shane! Cone back Shane" is one of the great lines in movie history. We have compiled a list of other impoprtant dcenes by boy characters.
As an adult, he appeared in a few films. Brandon appeared in Hud (1963) and In Harm's Way (1965). Neother were particularly appealing roles, but his performance was reasonable. He tragically died at only 30 years of age due to injuries suffered in a Colorado car crash. He was on his way to a theatrical performance.
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