David White (birth name Daniel David White) was born to John
Patrick White and Alice (Deasy) White in Denver, Colorado on April 6th,
1916. According to the 1920
United States Federal Census, the family resided in Durango City,
Colorado and David had an older brother named William and an older sister
named Margaret. The family moved to Blue Springs, Missouri shortly thereafter,
where David attended elementary school with well-known theater producer
Jennifer Reeder, and later to California, where David studied drama
at Los Angeles City College during the late 1930's. Following the completion
of his studies, David began acting professionally in regional theater,
most notably at The Pasadena Playhouse. After completing a four year
stint in the Marines during World War II, David resumed his acting career
at the Cleveland Playhouse after the war. He made his Broadway debut
on January 21st, 1949 in the play "Leaf and Bough", co-starring
Charlton Heston. Unfortunately, the play was savaged by New York theater
critics and abruptly closed after only three performances. David returned
to Broadway in 1950 in a play entitled "The Birdcage", co-starring
Maureen Stapleton. In 1952 David made his television debut in The Philco
Television Playhouse production of "Rich Boy", co-starring
This was followed by numerous TV guest-star appearances during the 1950's,
among which included episodes of "The Hallmark Hall of Fame",
"The Goodyear Television Playhouse", "Robert Montgomery
Presents", and "The Phil Silvers Show" (aka: "Sgt.
Bilko"). David returned to Broadway in 1953 opposite Steve Allen
in a play entitled "The Pink Elephant", which closed after
only five performances. The following year he appeared in his most successful
Broadway play "The Anniversary Waltz", co-starring opposite
Macdonald Carey and Kitty Carlisle. This play ran for 611 performances
and received positive acclaim from theater critics. This was followed
by an appearance in the play "A Roomful of Roses" opposite
Patricia Neal in 1955, and a supporting role in Peter Ustinov's 1957
Broadway production of "Romanoff and Juliet", co-starring
Ustinov, Natalie Schafer (Mrs. Howell on "Gilligan's Island")
and Elizabeth Allen (who later portrayed Paul Lynde's wife on "The
Paul Lynde Show"). David also made his film debut in 1957, co-starring
opposite Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis and Barbara Nichols in the movie
"The Sweet Smell of Success". During the early years of David's
acting career he also worked as a farm laborer, a truck driver and as
a doorman at New York's Roxy Theater. He also found employment at the
J.H. Taylor Management Company in New York City, where he famously turned
down a lucrative job offer by stating: "No thank you, sir, I'm
going to be an actor."
married successful stage actress Mary Welch during the early 1950's.
Miss Welch was born in 1922 in Charleston, South Carolina to Frank and
Emily Welch and raised in California, where she attended UCLA and was
lauded as an outstanding drama student. She made her Broadway debut
as "Jo" in a 1944 production of "Little Women",
and was later selected by playwright Eugene O-Neil to portray the main
character of "Josie" in an early aborted try-out of O'Neil's
play "Moon for the Misbegotten" in 1947. In 1948-49 she replaced
Kim Hunter as "Stella Kowalski" in "A Streetcar Named
Desire", and subsequently appeared in the hit Broadway plays "The
Solid Gold Cadillac" in 1953-54, and "Sunrise at Campobello"
in 1958. She made her film debut in the 1952 movie "Park Row",
and also appeared on television in a Playwrights '56 production of "The
Day the Trains Stopped Running" and the Alcoa Hour production of
"The Animal Kingdom" in 1957. A member of Lee Strasberg's
Actor's Studio, Miss Welch also ran her own acting school called "The
Welch Workshop" from 1955 until 1958. David White and Mary Welch
only made one acting appearance together, in a 1950's regional theater
production of "Tea and Sympathy" in Mount Cisco, New York.
David and Mary had one son, Jonathan, in 1955.
during a subsequent pregnancy resulted in Mary's untimely death
at the age of 35 on May 31st, 1958 at Mount Sinai Hospital in New
York City. Her funeral was held at Frank E. Campbell's on Madison
Avenue in New York and she was buried in San Diego, California,
where her parents resided.
Following the tragic loss of his wife, David and his son Jonathan
moved to Los
Angeles where David resumed his acting career in the motion pictures
"The Goddess" (1958) and Billy Wilder's Academy Award winning
"The Apartment" (1960) opposite Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine.
He greatest success, however, was in television, where he found steady
work as a supporting actor on numerous TV shows during the early 1960's,
including roles on "The Untouchables", "My Three Sons",
"Surfside Six", "Hawaiian Eye", "Have Gun Will
Travel", "The Virginian", "Perry Mason", "The
Fugitive", "77 Sunset Strip", "Burke's Law",
"The Alfred Hitchcock Hour" and "My Favorite Martian".
In 1964, David White was cast in his most memorable role as Darrin Stephens'
boss Larry Tate on "Bewitched". During the sitcom's eight
year run, David appeared in 157 episodes and directed one, "Sam's
Double Mother Trouble", in 1969.
Of his years on "Bewitched" and his signature character
Larry Tate, David made the following comments in an interview with author
Herbie J. Pilato:
got the part because I was an honest man, and that's how Larry and I
were different. I'm not two-faced, and he was. I had more integrity
than Larry ever had. I was smarter and had a deeper sense of values.
I had to diminish who I was to play Larry, whom I viewed as a very insecure
person who only had a certain brilliance in certain areas. He was smart
enough to hire people who possessed the skills he did not---like Darrin.
I wasn't born to play Larry. I had to create him. He was a make-believe
character of his own truth slated in a comedy series. When playing humor
and farce, you take that truth and stretch it as far as it will go.
But not any farther. When I was playing Larry, though he was a funny
character, I never tried to be funny. To me, acting has to do with fulfilling
the needs of the character you're playing, not the actor who's playing
him. Although the one thing the actor and the character have in common
is that both have needs. A real heavy is a man who doesn't have any
moral structure whatsoever; one who ends up cheating or even killing
someone. Larry was selfish, but he was never that extreme. If anything,
he was still a little kid who never matured."
-"Bewitched Forever: Anniversary
Edition" by Herbie J. Pilato, Tapestry Press, 2005, pages 62 and
|In his interview with Herbie J. Pilato, Mr.
White also mentioned that his favorite "Bewitched" episodes
were "The Moment of Truth", "Bewitched, Bothered
and Infuriated", and "Toys in Babeland", the latter
of which contained his favorite "Bewitched" moments during
the scene where Larry and the Toy Soldier (played by Jim Brooks)
are having drinks in a bar. In addition to the episodes mentioned,
David also stated that he enjoyed making the Salem episodes during
After "Bewitched" left the air in 1972, David continued
to work as a sought-after guest star on numerous popular television
series. During the 1970's and 1980's he appeared on "Mission Impossible",
"Love, American Style", "Adam-12", "The Odd
Couple", "The Six Million Dollar Man", "The Rookies",
"Police Woman", "Columbo", "Rhoda" (as
the husband of "I Love Lucy's" Vivian Vance), "Cannon",
"The Streets of San Francisco", "The Rockford Files",
"What's Happening!!", "The Mary Tyler Moore Show",
the TV movie "The Amazing Spiderman" (in which he played J.
Jonah Jameson), "The Love Boat", "Wonder Woman",
"The Incredible Hulk", "Quincy", "Cagney &
Lacey", "Remington Steele", "The A-Team", "Dallas",
and "Dynasty". He also appeared in the motion pictures "The
Happy Hooker Goes to Washington" (1977) opposite Joey Heatherton
and George Hamilton, "Brewster's Millions" (1985) with Richard
Pryor and John Candy, and the Sidney Poitier directed musical "Fast
Forward", also in 1985. David also performed in a number of regional
theater productions during this period through his association with
the Mark Taper Forum and Theatre West in Los Angeles, as well as stage
appearances in Seattle, Washington.
At some point during the latter three decades of his life, David embarked
on a relationship with actress Lisa Figus, with whom he had a daughter
named Alexandra. It remains unclear if David and Miss Figus were married,
although a few sources state that they were. However, Mr. White's California
death certificate lists him as a "widower" and Miss Figus
is still alive as of March, 2007. Additional information is unavailable
at the present time.
David tragically lost his son Jonathan in the terrorist bombing of Pan
Am Flight 103 on December 21st, 1988. The flight departed from London's
Heathrow Airport and was enroute to JFK Airport in New York when a bomb
planted in luggage by Libyan terrorists exploded 35 minutes after take-off.
The plane quickly broke apart over the Scottish town of Lockerbie and
all 259 people on board perished. Eleven additional people were killed
on the ground when large sections of the airplane landed on houses,
virtually obliterating an entire neighborhood. Jonathan White was only
33 years old.
||Devastated by the death of his son, David
retreated from public appearances in order to grieve his loss. Shortly
after the start of the first public inquiry into the bombing of
Flight 103, David White died of a heart attack at the age of 74
on November 27th, 1990. His ashes are inurned at Hollywood Forever
Cemetery alongside those of his beloved son Jonathan's.
David co-starred with his future "Bewitched" co-star Alice
Pearce in the Goodyear Television Playhouse production of "Money
to Burn" in 1951.
||David co-starred with Elizabeth Montgomery
in a 1961 episode of "The Untouchables" entitled "The
Rusty Heller Story".
David White and Dick Sargent co-starred in the 1961 motion picture
"The Great Imposter".
David and Bernard Fox appeared together in an episode of the series
"Twelve O'Clock High" entitled "The Climate of Doubt"
The character of Larry and Louise Tate's son Jonathon was named after
David White's son Jonathan White.
David and his "Bewitched" co-star Maurice Evans appeared
together in a 1972 episode of the television series "Search"
entitled "The Murrow Disappearance", and again in a 1973
episode of "The Six Million Dollar Man" entitled "Solid
David White and Lisa Figus co-starred as "Larry and Kate Dunston"
in the 1985 Pam Dawber TV movie "This Wife for Hire".
The 1989 short film "Mergers and Acquisitions", which was
David White's final on-screen acting appearance, is dedicated to his
"Bewitched Forever: Anniversary Edition"
by Herbie J. Pilato, Tapestry Press, 2005