Actor Keith Andes Committs Suicide: Marilyn Monroe Leading Man

by Andre Soares
Keith AndesKeith Andes: Actor was featured in 20 movies.

Actor Keith Andes dead at 85: Marilyn Monroe romantic interest in 'Clash by Night'

Film and stage actor Keith Andes, best remembered as Barbara Stanwyck's brother and Marilyn Monroe's romantic interest in the 1952 drama Clash by Night, died at his home in Santa Clarita, a community northeast of Los Angeles, on Nov. 11, '05. The Los Angeles County coroner's office ruled the death a suicide by asphyxiation. Andes had been suffering from bladder cancer and other ailments. He was 85.

Born John Charles Andes on July 12, 1920, in Ocean City, New Jersey, Keith Andes was brought to Hollywood by 20th Century Fox studio head Darryl F. Zanuck. The mogul had seen him perform (as an understudy) in the Broadway production of Moss Hart's World War II propaganda piece Winged Victory.

Keith Andes movies

Andes' Fox career, however, would be stillborn. He only got as far as a bit part as a flyer in the George Cukor-directed 1944 film version of Hart's play. Ultimately, he would be featured in mostly supporting roles in nearly 20 movies – initially at RKO; later in the '50s, chiefly at Universal – including the following:

  • H.C. Potter's The Farmer's Daughter (1947), as one of Loretta Young's handsome brothers.
  • Fritz Lang's Clash by Night (1952), as a fisherman concerned that his paramour (Marilyn Monroe) will end up like his hardened sister (Barbara Stanwyck).
  • George Marshall's musical Western The Second Greatest Sex (1955), as a priest, supporting Jeanne Crain and George Nader.
  • Joseph Pevney's World War II drama Away All Boats (1956), as a doctor, supporting Jeff Chandler, George Nader, Lex Barker, and Julie Adams.
Actor Keith Andes Marilyn MonroeKeith Andes and Marilyn Monroe in 'Clash by Night.'

B-movie leads: 'A Life at Stake,' 'Damn Citizen'

In 1954, Andes landed one of his rare leading-man roles in Paul Guilfoyle's independently released B crime drama A Life at Stake, as an out-of-work architect who becomes involved with married woman Angela Lansbury.

Four years later, Andes would head the cast of another B crime drama, Robert Gordon's Universal release Damn Citizen, playing real-life chief of police Francis Grevemberg, who was faced with an impossible task: wiping out corruption in the Louisiana State Police while getting rid of organized crime in his state. Gene Evans, Margaret Hayes, Lynn Bari, Edward Platt, and Ann Robinson were among Damn Citizen's familiar B-movie faces.

Besides, Andes was one of Jane Powell's romantic interests – the other ones were Cliff Robertson and Tommy Noonan – in Mitchell Leisen's 1958 comedy musical The Girl Most Likely.

Brief comeback

Keith Andes' film career came to an abrupt halt in 1959, the year he starred in two all-but-forgotten low-budget productions:

  • John Barnwell's World War II drama Surrender - Hell!, set during the Japanese occupation of The Philippines.
  • Terry Bishop's British-made crime thriller Model for Murder, co-starring Hazel Court.

After that, Andes would be seen in only three films, two of which were 1970 releases:

  • Al Adamson's minor crime drama Hell's Bloody Devils, also featuring old-timers Broderick Crawford, Scott Brady, Kent Taylor, and John Carradine.
  • Back at 20th Century Fox, Richard Fleischer's big-budget – and commercially disastrous – World War II drama Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970), in which Andes played Gen. George C. Marshall.

His last film appearance was in a small role in Norman Jewison's 1979 indictment of the American justice system, …And Justice for All, starring Al Pacino.

Stage and television work: From 'The Chocolate Soldier' to 'Star Trek'

On stage, Keith Andes won the 1947 Outstanding Breakout Performance Theater World Award for his work as Lieutenant Bumerli in The Chocolate Soldier. He later replaced leading man Alfred Drake in the original production of Kiss Me Kate. (Howard Keel had the lead in MGM's 1953 movie version.)

Additionally, Andes starred opposite Lucille Ball in the 1960 Broadway musical Wildcat, and in 1967 toured as Don Quixote in a production of Man of La Mancha.

On television, Andes toplined the crime series This Man Dawson (1959–1960), and later played an amateur sleuth in the short-lived 1963 series Glynis, co-starring Glynis Johns as his wife. He also had guest roles in a number of TV shows – including several anthologies – among them Jane Wyman Presents The Fireside Theatre, Playhouse 90, The Loretta Young Show, Perry Mason, The Lucy Show, and Star Trek (in the episode “The Apple”).

One of Keith Andes' sons, Mark Andes, was an original member of the rock group Canned Heat and Spirit.


Marilyn Monroe and Keith Andes Clash by Night image: RKO Radio Pictures.

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Robert David Michael (Cerello) -

Keith Andes was the most powerful and unlucky actor of the tweneith century, discovered more times than “Atlantis”, because critics, fans and newcomers to cinema would see some work of his and wonder why he was not twice as famous attractive mediocrities put up as “stars”. He was deeply trained in voice, singing, acting, and classical technique, and achieved major successes in film roles, television roles,on stage on Broadway and in road-company theatrical leads. I believe his work will be rediscovered for centuries. His greatest roles were on stage in “Man of La Mancha”, “The Chocolate Soldier”, “Wildcat” and “Kiss Me. Kate”. On tv,, his finest parts were in Bloomer Girl”, “High Button Shoes”, “Star Trek”, “This Man Daw-son”, “Buck Rogers”, and “Perry Mason”. Hbest films “Damn Citizen”, “Split Second”, “Back From Eternity”, “The Girl Most Likely”, “Model For Murder” & “A Life in the Balance”.


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