Brian Keith, who played gruff Uncle Bill on the sweet TV series “Family Affair,” was found dead Tuesday. He was 75.
Keith, who had cancer, was found by family members in his Malibu home with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, sheriff’s deputies said.
“He was a crusty old character, but a lot of fun,” said Paul Doherty, an agent whose firm handled Keith’s work in commercials. “A wonderful guy, wonderful talent.”
Keith appeared in movies throughout the 1950s and ‘60s, including such light comedies as Disney’s “The Parent Trap” in 1961 and “With Six You Get Eggroll” with Doris Day in 1968.
In “Family Affair,” which ran on CBS from 1966 to 1971, the burly, blond-haired Keith played a bachelor raising his three orphaned nieces and nephews - Buffy, Jody and Cissy - with the help of a proper English butler, Giles French, portrayed by Sebastian Cabot.
He played retired Judge Milton G. Hardcastle in the ABC crime drama “Hardcastle & McCormick” from 1983 to 1986.
Family members summoned sheriff’s deputies to Keith’s home after finding his body, said Deputy Bob Killeen. Several hours later, media helicopters hovered over Malibu Colony, a heavily secured, gated community.
The actor had been suffering from cancer, said a spokeswoman for his manager, Bob Schiller.