Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Talented Tuesday - David Doyle

David Fitzgerald Doyle
December 1, 1929 -
February 26, 1997
Actor David Doyle was my third cousin. We share the same great great grandparents, William D. Kelly and Mary Casey. His great grandmother, Mary Kelly, was married to railroad contractor and banker, John Fitzgerald, whom I've written about numerous times on this blog.

David was one of Hollywood's most recognizable character actors, perhaps best known as John Bosley on Charlie's Angels.

As a youth, David appeared on the Lincoln stage in community theater productions.

David's early career was focused on the stage. Broadway credits include I Was Dancing (1964) at the Lyceum Theatre and Here's Love by Meredith Willson (The Music Man) at the Shubert Theatre in 1963. His "big break" came when he replaced Walter Matthau in Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter in 1956.

His television career began with some uncredited appearances on programs such as 77 Sunset Strip. By the mid 1960s, David was showing up on Naked City, Car 54 Where Are You?, The Defenders, The Patty Duke Show, That Girl, and then on to Hawaii Five-O, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Banacek, Love American Style, All in the Family, Kojak, Sanford and Son, Barney Miller, Ellery Queen, Police Story, The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Murder She Wrote and Hart to Hart, among the more recognizable shows in a long list of credits.

In the 1960s, David appeared with his old buddy and former Nebraskan, Johnny Carson, on The Tonight Show. The phone call network would begin whenever word got out that David was going to be on with Carson. And they always told stories about growing up in Nebraska.

David's first regular TV series with a recurring supporting role was when he portrayed Walt Fitzgerald in 24 episodes of Bridget Loves Bernie during the 1972-73 season. It wasn't too much of a stretch for David to play a Catholic with the name Fitzgerald! We always got a kick out of that. That was one of the underlying themes of the show - his Catholic daughter, played by Meredith Baxter, was married to a Jewish man played by David Birney. The couple later married in real life.

In 1976 came the role that David is probably best remembered for - that of John Bosley on Charlie's Angels. The Angels were hot and, of course, there was that poster of Farrah that showed up everywhere. David appeared in 100 episodes of the show.

During 1986-87, David played attorney Ted Holmes on the ABC afternoon drama, General Hospital. Again, this was not much of a stretch as David's father, L.R. "Lum" Doyle was an attorney as is his brother, John R. "Dugie" Doyle. His paternal grandfather, T.J. Doyle, was also an attorney. David had also planned to become an attorney until the acting bug bit him. David ranked sixth in the state on his law school entrance exam.

David also made the round of TV game shows including Password, Super Password, Hollywood Squares, and the Match Game.

David's film credits include some movies you've probably seen: Capricorn One, Coogan's Bluff, and Paper Lion, as well as several others.

His last work was as the voice of Grandpa Lou Pickles in Rugrats.

David was one of those fortunate actors who always worked. If not in television, there was a film, stage production or dinner theater. Because of being a character actor, David was always employed.

It's fun researching David because there is such a wealth of newspaper articles about him from his entire career. It's especially fun to read those about his early stage appearances in Lincoln. When he went on to New York City, there would be snippets about his latest role in the society column. And whenever he came back home, that made news.

I met cousin David only one time, in 1980 when he was back in Lincoln for a fundraiser.

Meeting my cousin in Lincoln, Nebraska, 1980

Presenting David with the Greenwood history book
After explaining our common ancestry to David (in 25 words or less), I gave him a copy of the book on the Centennial History of Greenwood, Nebraska, where our ancestors settled. I always wondered if he took time to read it. I'd bookmarked the pages about our family. The biggest kick I got from meeting David was when he said to me, in that amazing raspy booming voice of his, "Hi, Cuz!"

David died of a heart attack on February 26, 1997 in Los Angeles. He was survived by his widow, Ann Nathan Doyle, whom he met while doing a revival of South Pacific, and a daughter, Leah, from his first marriage. His first wife, Rachel, died from injuries in a fall from a stairway in 1968.

I think David will not only be remembered as the sidekick to the Angels, but as a dedicated, hard-working professional actor who always maintained his Midwestern values.

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