Brian Keith (November 14, 1921 – June 24, 1997) was an American film, television, and stage actor, who in his four decade-long career gained recognition for his work in movies such as the 1961 Disney film, The Parent Trap, the 1966 movie, The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming, and the 1975 movie, The Wind and the Lion.
On television, two of his best known roles were that of a widowed uncle turned bachelor, Bill Davis, in the 1960s sitcom, Family Affair, and the title character of a tough judge in the 1980s drama Hardcastle and McCormick.
Keith was born Robert Alba Keith in Newark's suburb of Bayonne, New Jersey, to actor Robert Keith and stage actress Helena Shipman, a native of Aberdeen, Washington. He was raised Roman Catholic. His parents divorced, and he moved to Hollywood and started his acting career, at the tender age of 2. He made his acting debut in the silent film Pied Piper Malone (1924) at the age of 3. His mother continued to perform on stage and radio, while Robert's grandmother Apker helped to raise him in Long Island, New York, just 37 miles east of where he was born. She taught young Brian to read books over his age level. Prior to learning to read, he spent a lot of hours back stage while his parents performed, being quiet for hours. Helena fondly recalled keeping little Brian in the dressing room in one of her dressing room drawers. He remained calm and was quiet and would sleep through the entire show. From 1927 through 1929, Keith's stepmother was Peg Entwistle, a well-known Broadway actress who committed suicide by jumping from the "H" of the famous Hollywood Sign in 1932.