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Neville Brand (August 13, 1920 – April 16, 1992), was an Americanmarker television and movie actor.


Gravel-voiced Neville Brand was born in Griswold, Iowamarker, of Belgianmarker, Dutchmarker and Welshmarker ancestry. He was born to Leo and Helen Brand as one of seven children. Leo, an electrician and bridge building steel worker, and Helen were originally from Illinoismarker, and Neville was raised in Kewanee, Illinoismarker. After high school, he helped support the family while employed as a soda jerk, waiter, and shoe salesman in Kewanee. He entered the Illinois Army National Guard on October 23, 1939 as a private in Company F, 129th Infantry Regiment. Enlisted as Corporal Neville L. Brand infantryman on March 5, 1941, he was listed as being six feet tall and weighing 169 pounds.

He trained at Fort Carson, and served nine months and nineteen days in the U.S. Army in World War II seeing action with the 331st Infantry Regiment of the 83rd Infantry Division (Thunderbolt Division) in the Ardennes, Rhineland, and Central European campaigns. Brand, a sergeant and platoon leader, was wounded in action along the Weser River on April 7, 1945. His upper right arm was hit by a bullet, and he nearly bled to death. He was discharged from service in October 1945.

He worked on a 1946 U.S. Army Signal Corps film with Charlton Heston, and next settled in Greenwich Villagemarker and enrolled at the American Theater Wing, working off Broadway, including Jean-Paul Sartre’s "The Victors". He also attended the Geller Drama School in Los Angeles, Californiamarker on the G.I. Bill.

He started his big screen career in D.O.A. (1950) as a henchman named Chester. He became well known as a villain when he killed the character played by Elvis Presley in Love Me Tender. He played the villain in so many movies, his self-image became affected, culminating in a television interview on Entertainment Tonight with the actor moving about in agitation repeating, "I'm a loser. I'm a loser."

However, he played a very romantic lead in the movie Return From the Sea with Jan Sterling and a heartwarming character who was brain damaged and misunderstood in an episode of the TV show Daniel Boone. He played Hoss Cartwright's (Dan Blocker) Swedish uncle "Gunnar Borgstrom" on Bonanza in the episode "The Last Viking". He also played U.S. Navy Lieutenant Kaminsky, ignored as he tried to warn his commander of the opening skirmish in Tora! Tora! Tora!, who later waves his arms at the Pearl Harbormarker carnage, exclaiming "THERE'S your confirmation!"

Of the hundreds of roles he has played, he is probably most well known as Al Capone in the TV show The Untouchables and the movie The George Raft Story. The characterization caused an outcry from the Italian American community over stereotypes.

Many will remember him as Bull Ransom, the prison guard of Birdman of Alcatraz, and as the antagonistic and untrusting, yet dedicated POW, "Duke", in Stalag 17.

Known also for his cowboy roles, he starred in his own television series, Laredo, with William Smith, Peter Brown, and Philip Carey.

One of the most heart-rending scenes on television showed Brand's character, Reese Bennet, waiting in torment when he realizes he has been stood up by the love of his life. In another episode, the gruff and dusty Reese has an immaculate and proper lookalike that confounds the other Texas Rangers. The producers suspended Brand from Laredo due to his heavy drinking and problems between directors and co-stars. Brand admitted "I missed a lot of days I should have been on the set and wasn’t."

Most of his roles were heavies. Brand knew this when he said "Guys like me will be around this town a lot longer than the pretty boys, because we are ... one of a kind. We may produce nightmares instead of pleasant dreams, but we aren’t forgotten." In his memoir, actor Bruce Dern said that "Neville Brand was the baddest guy I’ve ever met in the business. Second baddest was Audie Murphy". Actress Coleen Gray described him as “the steeley-eyed, evil person of all time ... he was mean." She also said "... he was a nice person, and an intelligent person."

Brand was a real life hero. As mentioned above, he served in the U.S. Army during World War II. According to the IMDb, the claim that he was the fourth most decorated soldier (actor Audie Murphy being the first) is often repeated but is incorrect, though that same article does list many decorations that he did receive. These include a Silver Star, Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal, American Defense Service Ribbon, the European African Middle Eastern Theater Ribbon (with three Service Stars), Overseas Service Bar, one Service stripe, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.

In a November 1979 interview with author William R. Horner for his book "Bad at the Bijou", Brand related that he was a highly decorated soldier in World War II, winning a Silver Star, but that he wasn't the fourth most decorated. He attributed it to someone in Hollywood, and said that when he would deny it people thought he was just being modest.

Brand was also an insatiable reader, who amassed a collection of 30,000 books over the years, many of which were destroyed in a 1978 fire at his Malibumarker home.

Brand co-starred with George Takei in "The Encounter", an episode of the original Twilight Zone series. Ironically, Brand (a genuine war hero in real life) portrays a phony war hero: a coward whose prize trophy (a Japanese soldier's sword) was obtained from murdering a Japanese officer after he had surrendered. After its initial airing, "Encounter" triggered complaints from Japanese-Americans due to the backstory of the character played by Takei: he portrays a Nisei (the U.S.-born son of Japanese immigrants) whose father spied for the Japanese navy during the Pearl Harbormarker attack. Although "Encounter" is a taut drama with excellent performances by Brand and Takei, this historical inaccuracy (and the complaints it engendered) has caused this episode to be omitted from syndicated broadcasts of The Twilight Zone. (This episode, in three parts, is available for view on YouTube.)

Brand’s personal life was complicated. He was married three times — Jean Enfield (one daughter Mary Raymer, marriage ended in divorce in 1955), Laura Rae Araujo (married in Mexico April 6, 1957, two daughters Michelle Beuttel and Katrina, divorced in Los Angeles June 1969). His third wife was Ramona. It is possible the marriage with Laura and Ramona overlapped. Obituaries mention a wife named Mae Brand. He was survived by a brother, Bryce; and two sisters, Babara Byrne and Louise Turngren.

Neville Brand died from emphysema at Sutter General Hospital in Sacramento, Californiamarker in 1992. He was cremated and his remains are interred in a niche of the Morning Glory Room at East Lawn Memorial Park in Sacramento.

Partial Movie/TV List

External links

  • [12663] Neville Brand: Setting the Record Straight by Robert E. Witter


  • California Divorce Index 1966-1984.
  • Dern, Bruce. Thing’s I’ve Said but Probably Shouldn’t Have. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2007.
  • Hannsberry, Karen Burroughs. Bad Boys: The Actors of Film Noir. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2003.
  • Horner, William R. Bad at the Bijou. Jefferson NC: McFarland, 1982.
  • Lambert, Bruce. “Neville Brand, 71, Craggy Actor Known for Many Roles as Villains” New York Times, April 19, 1992.
  • Wise, James E., Jr. and Paul W. Wilderson III. Stars in Khaki. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2000.

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