Childhood & Early Life
Bradford was born on April 14, 1930, in San Francisco, California, to Josephine and Dean Dillman. He attended 'Town School for Boys' and 'St. Ignatius High School.'
Bradford was involved in theater productions at 'Hotchkiss School' in Connecticut. He enlisted in the ‘US Naval Reserve’ in 1948, while studying at 'Yale University.' He graduated with a major in English literature in 1951.
He was a member of the 'Yale Dramatic Association,' the 'Torch Honor Society,' the 'Fence Club,' 'The Society of Orpheus and Bacchus,' 'WYBC,’ and Berzelius.' Bradford joined the ‘US Marine Corps’ as an officer candidate after graduation and was made the ‘Marine Corps’ second lieutenant in September 1951.
Bradford was supposed to serve Korea, but his orders were changed later. Hence, he stayed in the ‘Marine Corps,’ teaching communication in the ‘Instructors' Orientation Course’ and was discharged as a first lieutenant in 1953.
Bradford apprenticed with the Sharon, Connecticut-based ‘Playhouse’ while studying with the 'Actors Studio' and then made his professional acting debut.
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Bradford's first project was 'The Scarecrow' in 1953. He then played the author's alter ego, 'Edmund Tyrone,' in Eugene O'Neill’s four-act play 'Long Day's Journey into Night' in 1956, which earned him his first 'Theatre World Award.'
Subsequently, he made his TV debut in 1955, with a single-episode appearance as an MP patrolling the city of Augusta, Georgia, in the documentary series 'The Big Picture.' In 1957, actor-writer Katharine Cornell cast Bradford in her 'Hallmark Hall of Fame' TV adaptation of Robert E. Sherwood's 'Pulitzer Prize'-winning 1940 three-act play 'There Shall Be No Night' for 'NBC.'
Bradford was cast as 'Bertrand Griot' in the film adaptation of Françoise Sagan's melodrama 'A Certain Smile' (1958). He was then seen in the wartime melodrama 'In Love and War' (1958), which featured him as 'Alan,' an intellectual from a wealthy family. He was also part of the crime drama 'Compulsion' (1959), which featured him as 'Artie Strauss.' He shared a 'Best Actor' award with his co-stars Dean Stockwell and Orson Welles at the 'Cannes Film Festival,' for this performance in the movie.
Following the principal role of Canadian officer 'Captain Paul Raine' in the 'CinemaScope' British war film 'A Circle of Deception' (1960), Bradford played dual roles of 'Larnier' and 'Claude' in 'Crack in the Mirror' (1960), which crashed at the box office.
Bradford played 'Francis Bernardone,' the titular role in the 'DeLuxe CinemaScope' film 'Francis of Assisi' (1961). He then left '20th Century Fox' and starred in two episodes of the ‘NBC’/'CBS' anthology 'The Alfred Hitchcock Hour' and in the 'ABC' crime drama 'Court Martial' (1965–1966).
He guest-starred in several series, too. He appeared as 'Luther Sebastian' in a two-part episode of the 'NBC' spy-fiction 'The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,' a role he reprised in the film adaptation 'The Helicopter Spies' (1968). He appeared as 'Dr. James Beldon' in the 'ABC' Western 'The Big Valley' (1996 and 1967).
At this point, Bradford appeared in a few films and had substantial roles in most of them. He appeared as 'Sidney Tate' in 'A Rage to Live' (1965), 'Capt. David Young' in 'Sergeant Ryker' (1968), and 'Major Barnes' in 'The Bridge at Remagen' (1969).
Bradford portrayed a Bostonian painter named 'Richard Upton Pickman' in the opening act of the 'NBC' anthology 'Night Gallery' (1971), based on 'Pickman's Model,' H.P. Lovecraft's 1926 story.
In the final decade of his career, Bradford had significant roles in TV movies. He was seen as 'Paul Varney' in 'Fear No Evil' (1969), 'Andrew Rodanthe' in 'Moon of the Wolf' (1972), and 'Steven Dennis' in 'Deliver Us from Evil' (1973).
During this time, he appeared as 'Dr. Lewis Dixon' in 'Escape from the Planet of the Apes' (1971), ‘Manfred Steyner' in 'Gold' (1974), professor 'James Parmiter' in 'Bug' (1975), 'Capt. Jerome McKay' in 'The Enforcer' (1976), 'Paul Grogan' in 'Piranha' (1978), 'Captain Briggs' in 'Sudden Impact' (1983), and 'Stuart Dobler' in 'Lords of the Deep' (1989).
Bradford's final major appearance was in an episode of the 'CBS' crime drama 'Murder, She Wrote' in 1995. He had made eight guest appearances in the series.
An avid football fan, Bradford wrote 'Inside the New York Giants' (1995), rating the players drafted by the team since 1967. He then published his memoirs, 'Are You, Anybody?: An Actor's Life' (1997).
Family, Personal Life & Death
Bradford was married to Frieda Harding from 1956 to 1962. They had two children: Jeffrey and Pamela. He then married actor-model Suzy Parker on April 20, 1963, whom he had met while filming 'A Circle of Deception.' They had three children: Dinah, Charles, and Christopher. Bradford and Suzy remained married until she died on May 3, 2003.
Bradford helped raise money for medical research while living in Montecito, California. He died of pneumonia on January 16, 2018, in Santa Barbara, California.