Saturday, April 18, 1992 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Neville Brand, Actor, War Hero


SACRAMENTO - Actor Neville Brand, a real-life war hero who made a career out of playing tough guys in movies such as "Stalag 17" and "Birdman of Alcatraz," died of emphysema. He was 71.

Mr. Brand died Thursday at Sutter General Hospital, said Angela Barnhill of the Sacramento County coroner's office.

He appeared in more than 40 films, but is probably remembered best for a television role. In the late 1960s NBC series "Laredo," Mr. Brand played the rowdy, gravel-voiced Texas Ranger Reese Bennett.

"He certainly enjoyed the role," said his daughter, Mary Raymer, who lives in Dixon, Ill. "It was a chance to add a little humor to the tough guy he always played."

Raised in Kewanee, Ill., Mr. Brand joined the Army after graduating from high school and was discharged in 1946 as the fourth most decorated GI of World War II. His decorations included the Purple Heart and Silver Star.

After the war, he went to Los Angeles and attended the Geller Drama School on the GI Bill. His first big break came as a gun-happy hoodlum in the 1950 thriller "D.O.A." with Edmund O'Brien.

Three years later, he starred in the POW film, "Stalag 17" with William Holden. His first leading role came in 1954 with "Return from the Sea," the only romance film he ever did.

His most acclaimed film role was as a convict in the 1954 prison drama, "Riot in Cell Block 11" and he played opposite Burt Lancaster in 1962's "Birdman of Alcatraz."'

He portrayed gangster Al Capone twice, first in "The George Raft Story" in 1961 and in "The Scarface Mob" a year later.

Other films include "Mohawk," 1956; "Huckleberry Finn," 1960; "Three Guns for Texas," 1968; and "The Desperados," 1970.

Funeral arrangements were incomplete.

Copyright (c) 1992 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


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