DE WILDE, Brandon

   Who can forget the last lines in Shane (1953) —“Shane! Come Back!”—yelled by Joey (De Wilde) as he runs after his hero who is riding off over the mountain? Brandon De Wilde played perhaps the most famous child’s role in a Western when, at age 11, he played Joey Starrett, a boy who idolizes his gunfighter hero even while trying to understand his father, who does not wear guns, and his mother, who he knows sees much in Shane. As Joey, De Wilde displayed exactly the right amount of bright-eyed, coming-to-awareness facial expressions accompanied by a tone of voice that perfectly expressed incredulity at what he saw in Shane and adoration, if not worship, of his hero. For his role in Shane, De Wilde was nominated for a best supporting actor Academy Award.
   That look of bright-eyed innocence in Shanecame from a seasoned actor who had appeared in 492 performances on Broadway in The Member of the Wedding, which he reprised in the film version in 1952, a film that also received Academy Award nominations. After these two films, De Wilde was given his own television series, Jamie. As he moved through his teenage years, De Wilde developed a modest reputation as a 1960s teen idol, starring in several popular teen movies. He died in an automobile accident in Denver at the age of 30.

Historical Dictionary of Westerns in Cinema. . 2012.

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