The actor was diagnosed with cancer when he got the news of his daughter's passing. He couldn't take it.
Actor Brian Keith became America's beloved "Uncle Bill" with the late 1960s hit sitcom Family Affair. In a career that spanned for around seven decades, he starred in more than 60 movies and was a part of many television shows that garnered him a star at the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
His most notable works were the original version of The Parents Trap, Nevada Smith, The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming!, Reflections in a Golden Eye, and TV series Family Affair in which his role resonated with the person he really was offscreen. Much like his famous TV drama, Brian Keith's family affairs were complicated.
Pop culture historian Geoffrey Mark described Keith as a "grounded human being who was extremely talented but "his heart was more about his family, his kids, the people he loved."
"I don’t think he was as married to his stardom as some other actors of his generation were,” Mark added, according to Closer Weekly. This was one of the major reasons that he couldn't survive the loss of his daughter Daisy Keith. Daisy was born from his second marriage with Victoria Young, and had committed suicide in 1997.
This wasn't the first time that the actor was experiencing loss. Born to actors Robert Keith and Helena Shipman, Keith went on to live with his grandmother after his parents got a divorce. While his mother continued to act on stage, Brian's father moved to Hollywood to pursue acting on the big screen, as well as dabble in writing. It's here that he met famous broadway actress Peg Entwistle. Yes, it was Entwistle who, in 1932, would jump to her death from the “H” of the Hollywood sign. She was Brian Keith's stepmother.
Keith, who had enjoyed an amazing acting career suddenly found himself struggling during the mid-1990s. While the actor was facing financial troubles that just became worse in 1995, he was soon hit with another bad news about his health. In 1997, he was diagnosed with emphysema and lung cancer. The chemotherapy took a severe toll on the once happy man both physically and emotionally, according to Amomama. And if that wasn't bad enough, Daisy's suicide in the very same year left him feeling like his heart had been ripped out of the chest.
Daisy, much like her father, became an actress who starred in the TV series Heartland, but the reason for her sudden death remains unknown. On the memorial website maintained by Victoria Young, she wrote that her daughter had "the smile of her Daddy" and his "magnetism." The grieving mother also revealed that Daisy was remembered every single day by herself and her son, Bobby. Young further wrote that she was "half crazy" over her loss but while going through the old pictures of her daughter "can feel her energy radiating...smiles and kisses."
When the news of his daughter's suicide reached Keith, he seemed to have lost the will to live any longer. He was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot to the head at 75 at his Malibu home on June 24, 1997. It was just a month after Daisy's passing.
A handwritten note was found after his death that read, "The end is here. I'm finished. The pain is too much. Now it's time for me to join our little Daisy. She needs me. She didn't want to be without me here, so she'll have me again over there. Don't be sad. This had to come soon."
Before he took the tragic final step, Keith called his Family Affair co-stars Kathy Garber and John Whitaker to tell them what he had intended to do. Mark revealed that he "called them to say goodbye and let them know what he was about to do. He didn’t want them to read it in the paper or hear about it on television and get scarred by it that way."
According to Mark, Keith wasn't a weak person, instead he "was somebody who felt that his time on the planet was over; that he could not deal with the physical pain of the cancer or the emotional pain of his daughter’s suicide."
Even during his final moments, he was worried about how his loved ones would take the shock of his death. Mark puts it this way, “The man is dying and he’s just lost his daughter 10 weeks earlier, " he said and continued, "But he loves Kathy and John enough to be concerned with how they might react and was a good enough friend to say, ‘Look, this is about to happen. I want to protect you. I want to love you. I want you to know why and that I’m okay with this.’ That’s an extraordinary person who does that.”