By Request, this Q&A Section Appears
Brandon deWilde, forty years after his passing, has been multigenerational for some time now. By that, I mean he now relates to several generations. A good portion of the populace today wasn't even around at the time of Brandon's passing.
You have his collective works, that happily new generations have found thanks to cable TV and DVD, but no one speaks for him in areas that have become both internet myth and legend. Even Turner Classic Movies has made blunders referencing Brandon, his name, his career and his death.
By far, these first 3 questions are:
a.) the most asked about Brandon
b.) the most incorrectly answered about Brandon and
c.) the most incorrectly posted pieces of information about Brandon on the web and in the press.
- How do you spell and pronounce Brandon's full name?
First, his birth name is: Andre Brandon deWilde, named after his paternal grandfather. Someone very early on made the wise decision to drop the "Andre" from his stage name. He is more often than not credited as: Brandon deWilde. The name deWilde -- with the "de" appearing in lowercase and no space between "Wilde" appears in the credits for about one half of Brandon's films. The others contain variations using a space and capitalizing the "De".
Film directors rarely get involved in the shooting of a film's credits (at least years ago) and so you have all these variations. In Brandon's appearance on the Alfred Hitchcock Presents TV series you have the correct spelling in the lead credits and a different variation in the closing credits.
The fact is Brandon always signed and spelled his name this way:
This is the spelling on every real signature of Brandon's I have ever seen (above, left), including all public documents from a variety of sources, all signatures and autographs. It is the spelling on the family grave marker. Bear in mind that not all of the prints the studios would send out were actually signed by Brandon.
If you watch the opening sequence of his guest appearance on What's My Line? (above, right) on January 10, 1954, on the Brandon's TV Clipboard page, you will see Brandon signing his name. Even though he is only 11 at the time, it is pretty much the same as the 1970s variation you see above.
I have never seen Brandon deWilde's signature where the "de" and "W" in deWilde were separated.
Brandon deWilde biographer Patrisha McLean has stated that in her recent 2012 interviews with Brandon's widow, Janice, she verified that this is the correct spelling -- Brandon deWilde.
For all practical purposes, it should be spelled as:
As for the pronunciation, in that same What's My Line clip, it is mistakingly pronounced as "duh-wild-a" by host John Daly.
The correct and most popular usage, both early on and since his passing, is "duh-wil-duh" as in wildebeest.
I have recently seen a 1953 newspaper article about Brandon where this was actually included in the piece as the correct pronunciation.
For all practical purposes, it should be pronounced as:
- Did Brandon deWilde die riding a motorcycle at 3 in the morning?
WRONG! This is one of those internet "myths" that has spread like wild fire. I don't understand why people feel dieing on a motorcycle is so appealing, but the fact is this.
Brandon deWilde crashed while driving his Ford camper van at about 3:25 pm on the afternoon of Thursday, July 6, 1972, in the Lakewood section of Denver, CO. It was raining. Driving in the rain is not a common thing for people from Southern California. It was reported in the press that Brandon was not wearing a seat belt (This was not unusual in the early 70s. Belts were only "lap" belts and their use was not required by law at the time).
And if that wasn't bad enough, Brandon had a notoriously bad driving reputation since he was a teenager. Having talked to Brandon on the telephone earlier, Brandon's wife Janice has stated that there was no way drugs or alcohol factored in the accident. There has been talk that perhaps Brandon was "driving blind" -- not wearing his glasses or contacts at the time of the accident, but to date it is only speculation.
Even Turner Classic Movies has this one wrong. He died at about 7:20 pm that evening at St. Anthony Hospital of multiple injuries.
Brandon had been staying in Denver since the previous month for performances at the Elitch Theatre. He was alone and enroute to Colorado General Hospital to see his second wife Janice.
Photo by Joe Marquette
It is a simple matter of good journalism to check your story. The Denver Post ran 2 separate stories of Brandon deWilde's passing in its July 7, 1972, edition. They also ran a photograph of Brandon's van.
If you would like to read/download the PDF files of that day from the archives of the Denver Public Library, click on the link to the left above.
- What became of Brandon deWilde's son, Jesse deWilde, and Brandon's two wives?
This ranks as the most asked question relating to Brandon at the moment. Some might be familiar with remarks by members of Brandon's family on an internet post several years ago. The e-mail addresses used at that time are no longer valid, so any one of a number of reasons could be responsible. One can realistically imagine it became too bothersome for them.
Brandon's son Jesse deWilde will turn 44 in 2012. Obviously, had he wished to pursue a career in the public light, we would have heard from him by now.
Although we do know where Jesse is and what he is doing, we have not had direct communication with him. We have through intermediaries, friends of Brandon's family, been told the family is requesting their privacy. That would include Brandon deWilde's former first wife Susan Maw, Jesse's mother.
We are fortunate to have heard from Brandon deWilde's widow, Janice Gero, and her remarks have been added to the Guest Book page.
If in the future any one of them desires to make a statement, we would make that available to everyone through this site at such time. Since they wish to maintain their privacy, we would, of course, ask that everyone understand and honor that request. We will not be reporting/forwarding contact information for any of them.
- Dean S. from Lawrenceville, GA, writes: I am just 2 years older than Brandon and loved seeing him in movies and on TV. Do I remember right that on one of the Wagon Train shows he sang "How Great Thou Art"? Is it available to download or order?
Much of Brandon's TV work is only recently becoming available on DVD. Brandon did 2 episodes of Wagon Train; 1 in 1959 and 1 in 1961. He was really peaking as a "teen idol" during that time period and Hollywood was pushing its young stars to sing as well as act, so it would not surprise me.
Unfortunately, as is usually the case, many of our domestic film productions are available on DVD overseas, but not in this country. I am not aware of this being the case for WT, although The Virginian is available here and Brandon did do 3 episodes there...in 1962, 1968 and 1970. His complete Filmography is at the Internet Movie Database.
You stand a better chance of catching the episode you want on one of the cable stations, like on Encore Westerns, and recording it.
Perhaps I should take this opportunity to ask our video collecting visitors to please post as many Brandon deWilde TV film clips as possible on YouTube. Once there, I can embed them into the site here for everyone world-wide to enjoy, like on the 2 Brandon's Clipboard pages.
- Does Brandon deWilde have a star on the "Hollywood Walk of Fame"?
NO! And therein lies a grave injustice. It just doesn't seem right. Brandon would qualify for all 3 stars -- stage, screen and television. Unfortunately there are a number of other factors at work here.
The Hollywood Walk of Fame has particular criteria for receiving a star. Among them are a nominator willing to pay the required fees, a nomination process and consent & participation of the nominee's family (since Brandon is deceased).
Certainly any one of the number of high profile friends Brandon had in the 60s could have secured the financial sponsorship for the nomination years ago. Unfortunately, at this late date, it is questionable if the family would participate.
Additionally, there a number of high profile cowboy museums, some honoring cinema cowboys. I have not seen Brandon's name mentioned at any of the ones I did a "quick check" on.
I do not think there is anyone that would dispute Brandon's eligibility in any category of "cinema cowboy".
- What color were Brandon deWilde's eyes?
This question comes up a lot, usually when one of Brandon's films airs on television. So much of Brandon's catalog was done in black & white and when one of his color movies airs from an old print, it becomes hard to tell as his eye shade can vary from black to brown to gray. Lighting plays a big part in that as well.
If you are lucky enough to see a digital color version of one of Brandon's films, like Those Calloways from Disney or one of his 3 appearances on The Virginian, the kid with the blond hair, turned up nose and freckles grew up with blue eyes.
Have A Question...
If you have a question about Brandon, send it in. We cannot guarantee answering all of them or sending back a personal reply, but we will try and post as many of them here as we can. A number of BdW's friends from the 60s do stay in touch with us and we can try and get you an answer.
Obviously civility rules and don't expect to get answers to a lot of personal or speculative questions (the answers to those are gone with the times). Stick to questions where a "yes" or "no" answer would do.