(written from a Production point of view)
Born as Robert Alba Keith  (although some sources state his birth name was Robert Richey) in Bayonne, New Jersey, he had a long and distinguished career, spanning seven decades and over one hundred films. However, he is probably best known for his role as Uncle Bill Davis in the original television sitcom Family Affair, for which he received three Emmy Award nominations.
Keith began his acting career when he was three years old, appearing in a 1924 film called Pied Piper Malone (released by Paramount Pictures). In 1943, Keith enlisted in the Marine Corps to serve in World War II. He was discharged in 1945 as a corporal, having received the Air Medal in 1943 for serving as a gunner in a Marine scout bombing squadron.
Keith returned to films in the 1940s as an extra, changing his first name to Brian as well as starting to spell his last name "Keith" instead of "Kieth". He then began playing bigger roles in the 1950s with his first major role in 1953's Arrowhead, also released by Paramount.
Since then, Keith starred or co-starred in numerous well-known films, including The Young Philadelphians (1959), The Parent Trap (1961), The Hallelujah Trail (1965, with John Anderson and Whit Bissell), The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming (1966, with Theodore Bikel, Andrea Dromm, Guy Raymond, Don Keefer, and Michael J. Pollard), The McKenzie Break (1970, with Gregg Palmer), The Wind and the Lion (1975, with Roy Jenson), Sharkey's Machine (1981, with Bernie Casey, Richard Libertini, John Fiedler, and Robert Duncan McNeill), and Young Guns (1988, with Terry O'Quinn).
Keith was also active in television. Aside from his role on Family Affair, he also starred the TV series The Westerner and later went on to star in the private detective drama Archer. He even had his own sitcom, The Brian Keith Show, which aired from 1972 through 1974. He also appeared in two popular Western TV mini-series, Centennial (also featuring Trek guest-stars Sally Kellerman, Michael Ansara, Morgan Woodward, James Sloyan, and Star Trek: Insurrection's Anthony Zerbe) and How the West Was Won (also starring Star Trek: The Original Series actors William Shatner and Ricardo Montalban). From 1983 through 1986, Keith co-starred with Daniel Hugh Kelly on the TV series Hardcastle and McCormick.
In 1997, Brian Keith was suffering from emphysema and lung cancer. Ten weeks after his daughter Daisy shot and killed herself, Keith also committed suicide on June 24th at the age of 75. One of his last acting appearances was in the 1997 made-for-TV movie The Second Civil War, which also featured Star Trek: Voyager actor Robert Picardo, Ron Perlman from Star Trek Nemesis, Star Trek: Enterprise guest actress Joanna Cassidy, and TOS/Star Trek: The Next Generation/Star Trek: Deep Space Nine guest actors Dick Miller and William Schallert.
Other Trek connections
Additional projects in which Keith co-starred with other Star Trek performers include:
- Nevada Smith (1966 film, with Paul Fix and Stanley Adams)
- Suppose They Gave a War and Nobody Came? (1970 film, with John Fiedler, William Bramley, Vince Howard, and Paul Sorenson)
- Something Big (1971 film, with Dean Martin, Paul Fix, and David Huddleston)
- Joe Panther (1976 film, with Ricardo Montalban)
- Nickelodeon (1976 film, with Hamilton Camp)
- The Court-Martial of George Armstrong Custer (1977 TV movie, with William Daniels, Nicolas Coster, James Lashly, and Anthony Zerbe)
- Meteor (1979 with Bibi Besch)
- The Mountain Men (1980 film, with Stephen Macht, Seymour Cassel, John Glover, and William Lucking)
- Rough Riders (1997 TV movie, with Mark Moses, Titus Welliver, and Marshall Teague)