Jonathan Gregory Brandis, an American-born actor, director, and screenwriter, was born on April 13, 1976 , and died on November 12, 2003 when he was 27 years and 213 days old. He is the only member of the forever 27 club who had nothing to do with the music business, but was a child actor who achieved celebrity and great popularity in his teen years. After that successful period, his career gradually declined and he died from complications resulting from an attempted suicide by hanging at the age of 27.
He was born in Connecticut, was an only child, and his parents got him started in modeling at the tender age of 4. His talents and good looks led to appearances in commercials and, as he grew up, in television and movie parts. At 6 years old he landed a role in the well-known soap opera One Life to Live, and he and his parents relocated to Los Angeles when he was 9. He subsequently appeared in many popular television shows playing a child of course, and eventually was cast in major parts in the movies The Never Ending Story Part 2, and Steven King’s It.
When he was 17 years of age, he got his big break. Steven Spielberg had developed a new sci-fi project for television called seaQuest DSV, and the role of Lucas Wolenczak went to Brandis. The character he played was a prodigy and a scientific genius, and of course was a handsome young man as well. The show took off, and soon Brandis had become a teen heart-throb, featured on the covers of teen magazines, and forced to have guards accompany him to and from the set to keep him safe from hoards of screaming girls. In many respects, his experience was the same as that of young popular rock stars. His talents in other areas were recognized by the show’s producers, however, and he co-wrote and directed an episode of the series. The show lasted 3 years until its cancellation in 1996.
Between 1997 and 2003, Brandis appeared in several films, none of which were very successful, and he felt that his promising career was not panning out. He also was active as a director and writer on a few independent movies, but these were side projects and did not attract much attention. On the 11th of November in 2003, the police were called to Brandis’ apartment after a friend phoned in a report of an attempted suicide gone wrong. He was hospitalized and pronounced dead a few hours later.
Acquaintances of the one-time child actor told investigators that Brandis had been depressed about his failing career, was known to drink heavily, and had actually threatened to commit suicide several times. He left no suicide note, and if there were any other explanations for his self-destruction, they were never made public. Although he was an actor and not a rock and roll musician, the arc of his life was similar to many other members of the forever 27 club, and because he was a teen idol and a young celebrity, he has become the only actor included in the club rolls.
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