Life and Death of 'Laredo' Star Neville Brand
Neville Brand was one of the rare people who came out of war and went right into the world of entertainment. His service, however, seemed to limit the type of roles he played throughout his career.
Brand was born on August 13, 1920 in Griswold, Iowa. His father worked in the steel industry and was able to put Brand, who had six siblings, through high school.
Brand had a tall build, over six feet, and a heavy stature. A just 21, he received training at Fort Carson, Colorado before serving for nine months in World War II. It was Brand's choice to get into military service.
On April 7, 1945, he got hit while in action on the Weser River. He was near to death and rewarded for his bravery and service after being discharged from the US Army a year later.
Around the same time, Brand joined a film project with the US Army Signal Corps. He later enrolled at the American Theater Wing and then the Geller Drama School in Los Angeles.
By 1949, he had made his debut appearances in Hollywood with the film "Port of New York" and then "D.O.A" in 1950. The roles made use of Brand's husky voice and tough appearance, which he had already perfected through actual war.
Brand continued his on-screen roles with notable performances including the Oscar-winning "Stalag 17" in 1953 and the time he played Al Capone in 1961's "The George Raft Story."
With the latter, he gained a reputation similar to that of Mel Gibson's son Milo, who also recently played the famous gangster and businessman in 2017's "Gangster Land."
In 1959, Brand acted in "The Scarface Mob" as well as "The Untouchables," which was a television film. He continued his bad guy image in the 60s with "Birdman of Alcatraz" in 1962 and "Backtrack!" in 1969.
Perhaps his most popular television role was in the "Laredo" series which ran from 1965 to 1967. The show followed a band of Texas Rangers that make their way through the country in hopes of not getting caught.
As a veteran, Brand did well on both the small and big screen, but the transition wasn't without its challenges. He would take up drinking to escape from his emotional issues and be able to get through his day.
Brand's personal life was not very publicized. He went through three marriages and had at least as many children from them. He did, however, allegedly speak about his drinking problem.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the actor said that "booze became medicine" as he tried to deal with the "tough-guy image" he was constantly expected to portray.
Arguably his most popular film role, "Riot in Cell Block 11," was just another performance that called for Brand to be gritty and gangster. Thankfully, Brand outlived his problems for a while until his death at 71 years old.
He died from emphysema in 1992 during his stay at Sutter General Hospital in Sacramento, California. He was reportedly surrounded by daughters Beuttel and Katrina Brand and his last wife, Rae Brand.