Andre Brandon deWilde (April 9, 1942 – July 6, 1972) was an American theatre, film, and television actor. Born into a theatrical family in Brooklyn, he debuted on Broadway at the age of 7 and became a national phenomenon by the time he completed his 492 performances for The Member of the Wedding. Before the age of 12, he had many accomplishments: He was the first child actor awarded the Donaldson Award, he filmed his role in The Member of the Wedding, he starred in his most memorable film role as Joey Starrett in the film Shane (1953). He had also been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, and starred in his own sitcom Jamie on ABC. He became a household name making numerous radio and TV appearances before being featured on the cover of Life magazine on March 10, 1952, for his second Broadway outing Mrs. McThing. He continued acting in stage, film and television role into adulthood before his death at age 30 in a car crash in Colorado on July 6, 1972.
Andre Brandon deWilde was the son of Frederic A. "Fritz" deWilde and Eugenia (née Wilson) deWilde. Fritz deWilde was the only son of Dutch immigrants who changed their surname from Neitzel-de Wilde to "deWilde" when they emigrated to the United States. He was a descendant of the Dutch merchant and seigneur Andries de Wilde, who was married to Cornelia Henrica Neitzel. Fritz deWilde became an actor and Broadway production stage manager. Eugenia was a part-time stage actress. After deWilde's birth, the family moved from Brooklyn to Baldwin, Long Island. deWilde made his much-acclaimed Broadway debut at the age of 7 in The Member of the Wedding. He was the first child actor to win the Donaldson Award, and his talent was praised by John Gielgud the following year. He also starred in the 1952 film version of the play, which was directed by Fred Zinnemann. In 1952 deWilde acted in the film Shane as Joey Starrett and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance, becoming the youngest nominee for the time in a competitive category. He had the lead role in his own television series, Jamie which aired in 1953 and 1954. Although the series was popular, it was canceled due to a contract dispute. In 1956 he was featured with Walter Brennan, Phil Harris, and Sidney Poitier in the coming-of-age Batjac movie production of Good-bye, My Lady, adapted from James Street's book. This film showcased the then-rare dog breed Basenji, the African barkless dog, to American audiences. Brooklyn-born, deWilde's soft-spoken manner of speech in his early roles was more akin to a Southern drawl. In 1956 (at age 14) deWilde narrated classical music works Peter and the Wolf by Sergei Prokofiev and The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra by Benjamin Britten. He also recorded a reading of Huckleberry Finn in the album The Stories of Mark Twain, along with his Good-bye, My Lady co-star, Walter Brennan. deWilde had hoped to embark on a music career. He asked his friend, Gram Parsons (of the Byrds), and his band at the time, International Submarine Band, to back him in a recording session. ISB guitarist John Nuese claimed that deWilde sang harmony with Parsons better than anyone except Emmylou Harris and bassist Ian Dunlop wrote, "The lure of getting a record out was tugging hard at Brandon." Parsons and Harris later co-wrote a song entitled "In My Hour of Darkness", the first verse of which refers to the car crash that killed deWilde