Bradford Dillman Poster


Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (2)  | Trivia (12)  | Personal Quotes (4)

Overview (4)

Born in San Francisco, California, USA
Died in Santa Barbara, California, USA  (complications from pneumonia)
Nickname Brad
Height 5' 11" (1.8 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Dark-haired, Ivy League-looking Bradford Dillman, whose white-collar career spanned nearly five decades, possessed charm and confident good looks that were slightly tainted by a bent smile, darting glance and edgy countenance that often provoked suspicion. Sure enough, the camera picked up on it and he played shady, highly suspect characters throughout most of his career.

The actor was born in San Francisco on April 14, 1930, to Dean and Josephine Dillman. Yale-educated, he graduated with a B.A. in English Literature. Following this he served with the US Marines in Korea (1951-1953) before focusing on acting as a profession. Studying at the Actors Studio, he spent several seasons apprenticing with the Sharon (CT) Playhouse before making his professional acting debut in "The Scarecrow" in 1953.

Dillman took his initial Broadway bow in Eugene O'Neill's play "Long Day's Journey Into Night" in 1956, originating the author's alter ego character Edmund Tyrone and winning a Theatre World Award in the process. This success put him squarely on the map and 20th Century-Fox took immediate advantage by placing the darkly handsome up-and-comer under contract. Cast in the melodrama A Certain Smile (1958), he earned a Golden Globe for "Most Promising Newcomer" playing a Parisian student who loses his girl (Christine Carère) to the worldly Italian roué Rossano Brazzi. He followed this with a strong ensemble appearance in In Love and War (1958), which featured a cast of young rising stars including Hope Lange and Robert Wagner. More acting honors followed after completing the film Compulsion (1959), which told the true story of the infamous 1920s kidnapping/murder case of Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb. He went on to share a "Best Actor" award at the Cannes Film Festival with fellow co-stars Dean Stockwell, who played the other youthful murderer, and veteran Orson Welles.

Though he was a magnetic player poised for stardom, Dillman's subsequent films failed to serve him well and were generally unworthy of his talent. Though properly serious and stoic as the title character in Francis of Assisi (1961), the film itself was stilted and weakly scripted. Circle of Deception (1960) was a misguided tale of espionage and intrigue, but it did introduce him to his second wife, supermodel-cum-actress Suzy Parker. While A Rage to Live (1965) with Suzanne Pleshette was trashy soap material, The Plainsman (1966) was rather a silly, juvenile version of the Gary Cooper western classic. As a result of these missteps--and others--he began to top-line lesser quality projects or play supporting roles in "A" pictures. His nothing role as Robert Redford's college pal-turned Hollywood producer in The Way We Were (1973) and his major roles in the ludicrous The Swarm (1978) and Lords of the Deep (1989) became proof in the pudding. His last good film role was in O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh (1973), although he did play an interesting John Wilkes Booth in the speculative re-enactment drama The Lincoln Conspiracy (1977) and had a fun leading role in the Jaws (1975)-like spoof Piranha (1978).

Dillman bore up very well on TV over the years, subsisting on a plethora of mini-movies and guest spots on popular series, playing everything from turncoats to frauds and from adulterers to psychotics. He earned a Daytime Emmy for his appearance in The ABC Afternoon Playbreak: Last Bride of Salem (1974) and starred in two series--Court Martial (1965), as a military lawyer, and King's Crossing (1982), as an alcoholic parent and teacher attempting to straighten out. He also spent a season on the established nighttime soap Falcon Crest (1981) in 1982.

A narrator, director and teacher of acting in later years. Bradford launched a late-in-the career sideline as an author. The football fan inside him compelled him to write "Inside the New York Giants" (1995), a book that rated players drafted by the team since 1967. Two years later he published his memoirs, the curiously-titled "Are You Somebody?: An Actor's Life." He retired from the screen after a few guest star shots on "Murder, She Wrote" in the mid-90s.

From 1956 to 1962, Dillman was married to Frieda Harding, and had two children, Jeffrey and Pamela. Following their divorce, he met well-known model-turned-actress Suzy Parker during the production of Circle of Deception (1960) and the couple married on April 20, 1963. They had three children, Dinah, Charles, and Christopher. Daughter Pamela Dillman has worked as an actress. Dillman was made a widower when Parker died on May 3, 2003. He lived for many years in Montecito, California, and helped raise money for medical research. He died in Santa Barbara, California on January 16, 2018, aged 87, from complications of pneumonia.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Spouse (2)

Suzy Parker (20 April 1963 - 3 May 2003) ( her death) ( 3 children)
Frieda Harding (15 June 1956 - 4 April 1962) ( divorced) ( 2 children)

Trivia (12)

Brother-in-law of actress Dorian Leigh Parker.
Father of Pamela Dillman.
Younger brother of Dean Dillman Jr..
Lives in Santa Barbara, California; he has written several books and worked as a talent scout for the football team the San Francisco 49ers. [2003]
He has English and German ancestry.
Third husband/widower of Suzy Parker.
Has ten grandchildren and a great-grandchild.
Died less than a month after Heather Menzies-Urich, who he co-starred opposite in Piranha (1978).
Was allowed to make the final pick of the 10th round of the San Francisco 49ers 1986 Draft. Bill Walsh allowed him to make the selection and he chose Harold Hallman. Hallman didn't make the 49ers roster, but he did play 8 seasons in the CFL and won a CFL championship.
An inveterate NFL draft groupie, Dillman first talked his way into the 49er draft room, in Redwood City, Calif., back in 1979, and he sat as still as a statue, observing the selection process and jotting notes in a large loose-leaf notebook. Every year since, Dillman, who played Robert Redford's best friend in The Way We Were and Clint Eastwood's cop pal in The Enforcer, the third Dirty Harry film, would show up on draft day and pass around a sheet of paper outlining his "sleeper pick." Dillman's witty evaluation of some little-known prospect usually got a big laugh from everyone present-except that Dillman's sleeper pick in 1984 was tight end Ed West, and in 1985 it was safety Mark Kelso, both of whom wound up starting in the NFL, though not for San Francisco. - Peter King SI.
After spending many years in television westerns and detective shows, he became a mainstay of the 1970s' "TV Movie of the Week" era, where he most typically played threatening or mysterious bad guys.
Born on exactly the same date as Jay Robinson (of "Dr. Shrinker" fame).

Personal Quotes (4)

Bradford Dillman sounded like a distinguished, phoney, theatrical name, so I kept it.
[about his career] I'm not bitter, though. I've had a wonderful life. I married the most beautiful woman in the world. Together we raised six children, each remarkable in his or her own way and every one a responsible citizen. I was fortunate to work in a profession where I looked forward to going to work every day. I was rewarded with modest success. The work sent me to places all over the world I'd never been able to afford visiting otherwise. I keep busy and I'm happy. And there are a few good films out there that I might be remembered for.
[on why he chose to be an actor] My feeling is that you should try to do the things you enjoy most in life. I chose acting as a career because I enjoyed it then as I do now. The only question for me then was, "Can I make a living at it?"
[from a 1978 movie press book] I prefer to have longevity. I like as great a variety as possible, hopefully to avoid getting stuck in one kind of character, having to do it over and over again. I seek to challenge myself as an actor -- and at the same time support my family.

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