Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

John Charles "Keith" Andes
Actor and Newhall Resident

Click to enlarge.

Actor Keith Andes Found Dead in Home.

County coroner's office rules death a suicide.

Keith Andes, a second lead actor in the 1950s and 1960s, was found dead at his Newhall home (26231 Larkhaven Place) on Nov. 11. He was 85.

Andes committed suicide by asphyxiation, according to a report from the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office.

Friends and family of Andes said the world is now absent of a man who never let his Hollywood and Broadway success fatten his head.

Andes performed in films and Broadway plays with stars like Al Pacino in the film "And Justice for All," and also played the character of Gen. George C. Marshall in the film "Tora! Tora! Tora!" about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Born John Charles Andes, Andes was an award-winning Broadway thespian and starred opposite Lucille Ball in the play "Wildcat" in 1960. His career spanned three decades, appearing in episodes of the science-fiction television show "Star Trek" and in the classic film "The Farmer's Daughter" with Loretta Young.

Born July 12, 1920, in Ocean City, New Jersey, Andes had an array of health problems up until his death, his friend and executor of his will Mike Brodowy said. He was stricken with bladder cancer, had suffered from back pain, had trouble walking, had a kidney that did not function and had lung problems due to his lifelong smoking.

But the 35-year Santa Clarita Valley resident and World War II Air Force veteran was an avid weightlifter and even went to the gym two days before he died, Brodowy said.

As Akuta in "Star Trek" (TOS) Ep.2.5: "The Apple." Original air date October 13, 1967. Click to enlarge.

His steadfast dedication to a prime physique and his chain-smoking were two unique things about Andes, Brodowy said.

"That's the thing that's ironic about him," friend Marshall LaPlante said. "He was in awesome shape, went to the gym five days a week, up until two days before he died. And you wouldn't know it if you saw it, but he smoked."

In the 1952 film, "Clash By Night," Andes dallied with a young Marilyn Monroe. LaPlante said Andes had nice memories of the former blonde bombshell whom he met before her stardom had seduced the nation.

"He said she was a nice, shy girl," LaPlante said. "He had fond memories of her. I know that."

But his success on stage and on the silver screen never went to his head, and his friends recall a man who was somewhat reluctant to bring it up.

"He was very secret about it," friend Nancy Brodowy said.

"He was really nonchalant," said LaPlante, who added that it took him nearly 10 years of persuasion to capture Andes in a picture with a mural of Marilyn Monroe in Hollywood.

Although he may have been less outspoken about his Hollywood successes, he was remembered as an eccentric man with friends, a man who loved to ride his motorcycle all around California and the rest of the nation who held a spot in his heart for those less fortunate.

Friends also described him as a jokingly brusque individual, who would correct one's English and pronunciation with a sarcastic tinge.

"He was a heck of an English teacher, but I wouldn't want to be his student though," Mike Brodowy said.

Andes is survived by his two children, Mark and Matt Andes, both of Dripping Springs, Texas, and his three grandchildren, Luke of Sherman Oaks and Rachel and Ryan of Pennsylvania.

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