David White Became Single Dad Following His Wife’s Death during a 2nd Childbirth

Gracious Egedegbe
Dec 02, 2021
10:20 A.M.
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After his wife died during her second pregnancy, David White was left alone to take care of their only son, Jonathan White, and bonded with him, which lasted until their deaths. Find out more about David's life, career, and family. 

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David White was a stage, film, and TV actor best known for playing Larry Tate on the ABC situation comedy "Bewitched" from 1964 to 1972. 

In his lifetime, he was married twice and had two children, including a son, with whom he had a close bond. Get a glimpse inside David's life and career. 

David White on a promotional photo for "Bewitched" on May 22, 1969. | Photo: Getty Images

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DAVID'S EARLY LIFE

David was born on April 4, 1916, in Denver, Colorado. Later, he and his family moved to Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. After his graduation, David attended Los Angeles City College and started acting at the Pasadena Playhouse and the Cleveland Playhouse.

David enlisted with the US Marine Corps during World War II. After discharge from military service, he made his Broadway debut in 1949, starring in "Leaf and Bough." 

American Actor David White as Larry Tate in "Bewitched," in 1966. | Photo: Getty Images

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DAVID'S CAREER

David appeared on multiple television series in the 1950s and 1960s. One of the series he appeared in was "One Step Beyond," in which he played a cop. He also made two guest appearances on the CBS courtroom drama "Perry Mason." 

In 1960, David starred in "The Case of the Madcap Modiste," playing Henry De Garmo. Three years later, he played a newspaper editor and murderer, Victor Kendall, in "The Case of the Witless Witness." 

Other television films David appeared in include "Peter Gunn," Mr. Lucky," "The Untouchables," "The Fugitive," "Mission: Impossible," "Father Knows Best," "Bonanza," "Have Gun – Will Travel," "My Favorite Martian," and "Dick Tracy."

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Dick Sargeant and David White on an episode "Bewitched" on November 27, 1969. | Photo: Getty Images

David also appeared in two episodes of "The Twilight Zone." In 1963, he also played Detective Burr in "An Out for Oscar," Lance Hawthorn in "The Dark Pool," and appeared on "Alfred Hitchcock Presents."

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David was mainly known for his work on television. Still, he had some unforgettable supporting roles in feature films like "Sweet Smell of Success," in which he played a sleazy columnist, "The Apartment," "Sunrise at Campobello," and "The Lawbreakers." 

After Jonathan's death, David went into a long period of mourning and seclusion.

Dick Sargeant, Elizabeth Montgomerry and David White on an episode "Bewitched" on October 16, 1969. | Photo: Getty Images

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DAVID ON "THE BEWITCHED" 

David was cast on "Bewitched" in 1964. He played Larry Tate, the President of McMann & Tate advertising agency in the series. He was the boss of Darrin Stephens, whose character was played by Dick York and later Dick Sargent. 

Other stars of the show include Elizabeth Montgomery, who played Samantha Stephens, a witch and Darrin's husband; Agnes Moorehead, who played Samantha's mother; and Paul Lynde, who played Uncle Arthur. 

While most of the show's characters have died, Erin Murphy, who played young Tabitha Stephens, is alive. She appeared in 103 episodes of the show from its third season to its last original episode in 1972. 

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Elizabeth Montgomerry and David White on an episode "Bewitched." | Photo: Getty Images

In the first season, Erin shared her role with her fraternal twin sister, Diane, because of their similarities in appearance and stature. However, they looked less alike as they grew up, meaning only Erin played the role. 

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David appeared in 191 out of 254 episodes of "Bewitched." Most of the show's episodes revolved around his character's attempts to land lucrative advertising accounts. 

During a reported interview, David said he got Tate's role because he was an honest man and not two-faced like the character he played. He also said he was more intelligent and had a more profound sense of value than Tate. Hence, he had to diminish who he was to play Tate.

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David said he viewed Tate as a very insecure person who was only brilliant in certain areas. Therefore, he was smart enough to hire people like Darrin, who possessed skills he did not have. 

After "Bewitched," David was famous and starred in numerous TV series. These included The Love Boat, Remington Steele, The Rockford Files, Columbo: Identity Crisis, What's Happening!!, Rhoda, Quincy, M.E., The Odd Couple, Cagney & Lacey, and Dallas. 

He also appeared in the pilot episode of "The Amazing Spider-Man." In 1985, he appeared in the movies "The Happy Hooker Goes to Washington" and the Disney film "Snowball Express. He acted for the last time in 1986 when he appeared on an episode of "Dynasty." 

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DAVID'S PERSONAL LIFE

David had a complicated personal life. In 1952, he tied the knot with Mary Welch. Three years after their marriage, they welcomed a son named Jonathan White. 

Unfortunately, Welch died in 1958 while pregnant with her and David's second child. She died at Mt. Sinai hospital, Los Angeles, due to blood complications from her pregnancy. She was a patient at the hospital several weeks before her death. 

A year after Welch's death, David married Lisa Figus. He and Figus had a daughter named Alexandra and remained married until his death. 

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David White on a promotional photo for "Bewitched" on September 25, 1969. | Photo: Getty Images

On December 21, 1988, David suffered another family tragedy after his only son, Jonathan, died in the terrorist bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. 

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The aircraft had departed from London's Heathrow Airport and was headed for New York's JFK Airport when it was bombed before crashing over Lockerbie, Scotland. 

David had a close bond with Jonathan and was devastated by his death. He loved Jonathan so dearly that he asked the producers at "Bewitched" to name Tate's son Jonathan, which they agreed to. 

David White on a promotional photo for "Bewitched" on October 29, 1970. | Photo: Getty Images

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After Jonathan's death, David went into a long period of mourning and seclusion. He died of a heart attack on November 27, 1990, in North Hollywood, California, shortly before the second anniversary of his son's passing. He was 74. 

In the book "Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle," author Chris Hedges wrote about David and Jonathan's modest memorial.

He described it as a moving memorial that featured a small glass case containing the father-son pair's cremated remains. 

David White on a promotional photo for "Bewitched" on February 5, 1972. | Photo: Getty Images

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Hedges said the modest memorial is a poignant and straightforward adoration of the powerful bond between father and son. He added that it defied the celebrity culture around and spoke to other values, loss, grief, mortality, and the awful fragility of life.

David's career was eventful, and he would always be remembered for his role on "Bewitched." However, it is heartbreaking that he suffered so much tragedy in his personal life. May his soul always rest in peace. 

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