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Also Known As: David Lemuel Keith Died:
Born: May 8, 1954 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Knoxville, Tennessee, USA Profession: actor, director, singer, songwriter, cattle rancher

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Tennessee-born and bred with a handsome broad face and solid build, David Keith has frequently excelled playing virile, Southern characters at home in his own native idiom. He began his career as a member of the Clarence Brown Theatre Company at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, where he earned his Equity card appearing in musicals like "Brigadoon" and "The Music Man". After graduation, Keith moved to NYC and acted at Connecticut's Goodspeed Opera House in the country and western musical "The Red Bluegrass Western Flyer Show" (1977). Relocating to L.A., he landed a guest shot on the popular ABC sitcom "Happy Days" in 1978 and then co-starred in the extremely short-lived sitcom "Co-Ed Fever" (CBS, 1979), a knock-off of the hit feature "Animal House" that aired only once. Keith appeared in support of Carol Burnett and Ned Beatty in the award-winning drama "Friendly Fire" (ABC, 1979) and starred as an American athlete romancing a Soviet gymnast (Stephanie Zimbalist) in the 1980 NBC miniseries "The Golden Moment--An Olympic Love Story". Registering strongly in his feature debut as a bodyguard to Bette Midler's rock star in "The Rose" and in his follow-up as a bigoted redneck in "The Great...

Tennessee-born and bred with a handsome broad face and solid build, David Keith has frequently excelled playing virile, Southern characters at home in his own native idiom. He began his career as a member of the Clarence Brown Theatre Company at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, where he earned his Equity card appearing in musicals like "Brigadoon" and "The Music Man". After graduation, Keith moved to NYC and acted at Connecticut's Goodspeed Opera House in the country and western musical "The Red Bluegrass Western Flyer Show" (1977). Relocating to L.A., he landed a guest shot on the popular ABC sitcom "Happy Days" in 1978 and then co-starred in the extremely short-lived sitcom "Co-Ed Fever" (CBS, 1979), a knock-off of the hit feature "Animal House" that aired only once. Keith appeared in support of Carol Burnett and Ned Beatty in the award-winning drama "Friendly Fire" (ABC, 1979) and starred as an American athlete romancing a Soviet gymnast (Stephanie Zimbalist) in the 1980 NBC miniseries "The Golden Moment--An Olympic Love Story".

Registering strongly in his feature debut as a bodyguard to Bette Midler's rock star in "The Rose" and in his follow-up as a bigoted redneck in "The Great Santini" (both 1979), Keith went on to play a prisoner who trusts too much in the system in "Brubaker" (1980), a childhood friend of Robert Hays in the witless "Take This Job and Shove It" (1981) and a mechanic romancing Kathleen Quinlan in "Independence Day" (1982). His breakout performance came that year as Richard Gere's seemingly stalwart buddy Sid Whorley in Taylor Hackford's "An Officer and a Gentleman", after which he starred as the nice guy cadet who wants to end the hate at a South Carolina military academy in "The Lords of Discipline" (1983). A government experiment led to his acquiring psychokinetic powers that were not quite the equal of his daughter (Drew Barrymore) in "Firestarter" (1984), but he and the all-star cast played second fiddle to the real star of this Stephen King adaptation, the special effects.

Keith made an auspicious feature directorial bow with "The Curse/The Farm" (1987), a horror film about a meteorite that lands on a Tennessee farm causing the food and water to become contaminated. He also helmed and starred in the Indiana Jones knock-off "The Further Adventures of Tennessee Buck" (1988), as well as the music video for Patty Loveless' "Blame It on Your Heart" (1992). A fine singer who had once considered a career in music before a string of film and TV assignments altered his course, he contributed vocals to the soundtrack of "The Curse" and picked up his first screen credit as song performer on Donald Cammell's bizarre thriller "White of the Eye" (also 1987), in which he starred as the psycho husband of Cathy Moriarty. Keith then had a blast as Elvis Presley in the whimsical "Heartbreak Hotel" (1988), singing for the 'King' on a number of his famous tunes, including the title song, "How Great Thou Art" and "That's All Right", among others. As a songwriter, he collaborated with Leon Russell on the theme for the short-lived sitcom "Flesh 'n Blood" (NBC, 1991), in which he also starred.

Keith won critical acclaim for his titular turn in the CBS miniseries "Guts & Glory: The Rise and Fall of Oliver North" (1989) but reverted to mostly supporting roles in diverse feature fare like "The Two Jakes" (1990), David S Ward's baseball comedy "Major League II" (1994) and the children's movies "The Indian in the Cupboard" and "Gold Diggers: The Secret of Bear Mountain" (both 1995). After he starred in the ABC movie "Whose Child Is This? The War for Baby Jessica" (1993) and garnered praise as Jim Bowie in the ABC miniseries "James Michener's Texas" (1994), the chance to work with co-creator and executive producer Steven Spielberg lured him back as a series regular on the ABC police drama "High Incident" (1996-97), although the result was the same as his earlier forays to episodic TV. Following B-features like "Judge and Jury" (1996) and a steady diet of made-for-TV movies, Keith finally surfaced in two mainstream pictures in 2000, portraying a gung-ho marine leading a mission to capture spy secrets from a German submarine in "U-571" and joining Robert De Niro and Cuba Gooding Jr for "Men of Honor", the inspirational true-life story of Carl Brashear, the Navy's first African-American Master Diver. Keith kept busy in supporting roles and television fare such as the ABC TV re-make of Steven King's classic horror novel "Carrie" (2002) and Sci-Fi's original cable telepic "Sabretooth", then tackled another high-profile, big screen supporting outing as boxer Jack 'The Devil' Murdock, a down-and-out prizefighter whose tragic fate inspires his blind-but-gifted son to become the comic book super hero "Daredevil" (2003). Vastly different in direction was his role in the Hilary Duff melodrama "Raise Your Voice" (2004) as a father reluctant to let his talented daughter attend a performing arts school in Los Angeles.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

2.
  Curse, The (1987) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Beneath the Blue (2010)
2.
3.
 Bottoms Up (2006)
4.
5.
 Expiration Date (2006)
7.
8.
 Raise Your Voice (2004) Simon Fletcher
10.
 Deep Shock (2003) Andy
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
While in college, became member of school's Clarence Brown Company; earned Equity card
:
Moved to NYC
1977:
Played Scotty in "Red Bluegrass Western Flyer Show", a country-western musical at Goodspeed Opera House, East Haddam, Connecticut
1978:
TV debut, guest appearance as Fred Collins on episode of "Happy Days" (ABC)
1979:
Debut as series regular, "Co-Ed Fever" (CBS)
1979:
Registered strongly in his feature debut, "The Rose", as a soldier-cum-bodyguard for star Bette Midler's character; also acted in that year's "The Great Santini", adapted from the novel by Pat Conroy
1979:
TV-movie debut in the award-winning "Friendly Fire" (ABC)
1980:
Supported Robert Redford in prison-themed "Brubaker"
1980:
Starred opposite Stephanie Zimbalist in NBC miniseries, "The Golden Moment: An Olympic Love Story"
1982:
Breakthrough screen role, the suicidal naval officer Sid Worley in "An Officer and a Gentleman"
1983:
Starred as a senior asked to keep an eye on first black cadet (played by pro boxer Mark Breland) who is being systematically tortured by a secret society called 'The Ten' in "The Lords of Discipline", based on the Pat Conroy novel; set in 1964 South Carolina in a military school patterned after The Citadel
1984:
Headlined all-star cast (including Oscar-winners George C Scott, Art Carney and Louise Fletcher) in "Firestarter", based on the Stephen King novel
1985:
Returned to the stage, portraying Duane Wilson in Colorado and Connecticut productions of "Harvey"
1986:
Acted in two plays in his native Tennessee, "Geater Tuna" and "Bus Stop", the latter at his alma mater
1987:
Starred as psycho husband of Cathy Moriarity in Donald Cammell's bizarre thriller "White of the Eye"; first credit as song performer
1987:
Directorial debut, "The Curse"
1988:
Helmed "The Further Adventures of Tennessee Buck"; also co-starred
1988:
Portrayed Elvis Presley in "Heartbreak Hotel"; also credited as song performer
1989:
Played title role in CBS miniseries "Guts & Glory: The Rise and Fall of Oliver North"
1990:
Acted in the disappointing sequel to "Chinatown", "The Two Jakes", directed by and starring Jack Nicholson
1991:
Starred as Southern con man Arlo Weed in NBC sitcom "Flesh 'n' Blood"; also co-wrote (with Leon Russell) theme song and provided background vocals
1992:
Helmed music video for Patty Loveless' "Blame It on Your Heart"
1993:
Starred in the ABC movie "Whose Child Is This? The War for Baby Jessica"
1994:
Portrayed Jim Bowie in ABC miniseries "James Michener's Texas"
1995:
Played the miniature cowboy Boone in the family film "The Indian in the Cupboard"
1996:
Returned from hell after his death-row execution to avenge his wife in "Judge and Jury"
1996:
Co-starred in ABC police drama "High Incident", executive produced by Steven Spielberg
1998:
Appeared as a sleazy photographer leading a double life in HBO's disappointing "Poodle Springs"; Bob Rafelson directed from Tom Stoppard's adaptation of the Robert Parker novel which plumped an aging Phillip Marlowe smack in the middle of the 1960s
2000:
Co-starred as a gung ho Marine leading a mission to capture spy secrets from a German submarine in "U-571"
2000:
Portrayed Captain Hardigan in "Men of Honor", starring Robert De Niro and Cuba Gooding Jr
2001:
Had supporting role in "Behind Enemy Lines"
2002:
Played a detective in the ABC televison remake of Steven King's "Carrie"
2002:
Appeared in the indie road drama "World Traveler"
2002:
Starred in the Sci-Fi original telepic "Sabretooth," about a genetically engineered prehistoric tiger
2003:
Played boxer Jack 'The Devil' Murdock, father of the comic book superhero "Daredevil"
2004:
Cast as Hilary Duff's father in the teen drama "Raise Your Voice"
2006:
Played Vice President Walker, opposite Mariel Hemingway in "In Her Line of Fire"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

University of Tennessee at Knoxville: Knoxville , Tennessee - 1975
University of Tennessee at Knoxville: Knoxville , Tennessee - 1975

Notes

Keith maintains a cattle ranch in Tellico Plains, Tennessee.

He contributed three songs to the soundtrack of the film "Raw Justice" (1994).

About his passion for the University of Tennesse Volunteers football program and for Tennessee in general: "I've been a 'Vol' since I was 13, sitting on the sidelines. I'm a very competitive person. Competition isn't healthy in show business, so this way, I get my ya-yas out with the team. They're my outlet for my aggression.

"I prefer it back there [Tennessee]. Coming to L.A. is like going to the zoo. You can't take it seriously because this isn't how people really are." --David Keith to Jefferson Graham in USA Today, April 15, 1996

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Nancy Clark. Publicist. Born c. 1971; married on April 15, 2000 in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Lemuel Grady Keith Jr. Personnel division worker. Worked for the Tennessee Valley Authority.
mother:
Hilda Earle Keith. Worked for Knoxville County Board of Education.

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