The 75-year-old actor not only was suffering from cancer (lung cancer and emphysema, according to some newspaper reports), but was apparently distraught over the suicide of his own 27-year-old daughter 10 weeks ago, according to the Associated Press.
Like her father, Daisy L. Sampson died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. She left no suicide note.
On Tuesday, Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies found Keith's body inside his home at 10:13 a.m., after being alerted to the scene by family members.
"Brian Keith was a generous actor, a kind man and a true friend," said Daniel Hugh Kelly, who costarred with Keith for three seasons on the popular action series Hardcastle & McCormick in the mid-1980s.
Born in November 1921 in Bayonne, New Jersey, Keith's career spanned more than 40 years. In film, he costarred with the likes of Marlon Brando and Liz Taylor (Reflections in a Golden Eye) and Burt Reynolds (Sharky's Machine). He was also dad to Hayley Mills (or, at least, one of her twin selves) in the 1961 classic, The Parent Trap.
On TV, from 1966-71, he was Bill Davis, the rock of the orphaned Family Affair clan--which included child actor stand-outs Johnnie Whitaker and Anissa Jones. (Jones died of a drug overdose in 1976 at the age of 18.) Whitaker, now 37, said Tuesday that he spoke with his onetime TV dad on the telephone about five days before his death. "He was not feeling good because he had been going through the chemotherapy for his cancer," Whitaker said."And he'd been having other problems."
Keith's TV work also included the 1972-74 sitcom, The Brian Keith Show, and Hardcastle & McCormick, where Keith played cranky, crabby Judge Milton "Hardcase" Hardcastle.
Keith is survived by his wife since 1970, Victoria Young, who played Nurse Puni on The Brian Keith Show.
(Updated June 25, 1997, at 11:15 a.m. PT)