Keefe Brasselle

Keefe Brasselle

in 1954
Born John Brasselli
(1923-02-07)February 7, 1923
Elyria, Ohio, U.S.
Died July 7, 1981(1981-07-07) (aged 58)
Downey, California, U.S.
Cause of death liver disease
Occupation Actor, producer
Years active 1942-1973
Spouse(s) Norma Jean Aldrich (1942-1956) (divorced) (1 child)
Arlene DeMarco (1956-1967) (divorced) (2 children)

Keefe Brasselle (February 7, 1923 July 7, 1981) was an American film actor, television actor/producer and author. He is best remembered for the starring role in The Eddie Cantor Story (1953). The film was a response to the wildly successful The Jolson Story and Jolson Sings Again starring Larry Parks. The Eddie Cantor Story, however, could not equal the success of the Jolson films and Brasselle's career did not launch as anticipated. In 1953, Braselle hosted an episode of The Colgate Comedy Hour with comedian/dancer Dick Wesson as a promotional tie-in for the film.

In 1956, Braselle married the singer Arlene DeMarco[1] (28 January 1933 – 19 February 2013).[2] They divorced in 1967.[3]

Brasselle had a close friendship with CBS executive James Aubrey. Brasselle started his own production company and Aubrey granted Brasselle's company three television series without any previous script, pitch or pilots. The insider-chicanery resulted in a lawsuit against Aubrey and Brasselle launched by CBS shareholders. There were rumors that Aubrey had no choice in the matter due to threats from the Mafia, with which Brasselle was known to be connected.[4]

In 1961, an Edison Township, New Jersey nightclub owned by Brasselle burned under suspicious circumstances.[5] Fire officials came across six empty cans of gasoline at the scene, while their caps and spouts were found separately in a paper bag.[5]

In the summer of 1963, Brasselle starred in a summer replacement series for The Garry Moore Show. Called The Keefe Brasselle Show, the program featured actress Ann B. Davis as herself in three episodes. During the 1964-1965 season, Brasselle's "Richelieu Productions" banner produced three new but untested series: The Baileys of Balboa, The Cara Williams Show, and The Reporter, starring Harry Guardino. Those series suffered from poor ratings. Aubrey was removed as president of CBS Television in February 1965 after a long court battle. Brasselle later wrote a novel that was a thinly disguised account of his relationship with Aubrey and the network, The CanniBalS (1968),[6] followed by a sequel, The Barracudas (1973), in which he attacked several showbiz figures he'd worked with, including comedian Jack Benny.[7]

Later years and death

Other career highlights include appearances in the films Never Fear (1949) and A Place in the Sun (1951). Brasselle struggled to find work after his CBS experience.

He died from liver disease in 1981 at age 58.

Radio appearances

Year Program Episode/source
1952 Stars in the Air The House on 92nd Street [8]


External links


  1. "Actor Keith Brasselle, Singer are Married". Reading Eagle. 24 December 1956. Retrieved 4 November 2013.
  2. Brandi, Lisa. "Tribute to Arlene DeMarco, Lead Singer of The Five DeMarco Sisters". Retrieved 4 November 2013.
  3. Deutsch, Linda (12 December 1971). "Arlene DeMarco Spills the Beans". The Milwaukee Journal. Retrieved 4 November 2013.
  4. The Keefe Brasselle Show profile at
  5. 1 2 "Nightclub Fire Mystery". The Miami News. 28 July 1961. Retrieved 4 November 2013.
  7. The Jack Benny Show book by Milt Josefsberg, 1977
  8. "Those Were the Days". Nostalgia Digest. 35 (2): 32–39. Spring 2009.
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