Jonathan Brandis

Jonathan Gregory Brandis (April 13, 1976 – November 12, 2003) was an American actor. Beginning his career as a child model, Brandis moved on to acting in commercials and subsequently won television and film roles. Brandis made his acting debut in 1982 as Kevin Buchanan on the ABC soap opera One Life to Live. In 1990, he portrayed Bill Denbrough in Stephen King's supernatural horror miniseries It. Also in 1990, he starred as Bastian Bux in The NeverEnding Story II: The Next Chapter. In 1993, at the age of 17, he was cast in the role of Lucas Wolenczak, a teen prodigy on the NBC series seaQuest DSV. The character was popular among teenage female viewers, and Brandis regularly appeared in teen magazines.

Jonathan Brandis
Brandis in 1993
Jonathan Gregory Brandis

(1976-04-13)April 13, 1976
DiedNovember 12, 2003(2003-11-12) (aged 27)
Cause of deathSuicide by hanging
EducationValley Professional School
Years active1978–2003[1]
AwardsYoung Artist Award (1994) for seaQuest DSV

Early life

Jonathan Brandis was born in Danbury, Connecticut, the only child of Mary, a teacher and personal manager, and Gregory Brandis, a food distributor and firefighter. At the age of two, he began his career as a child model for Buster Brown shoes.[1] At the age of four, Brandis began acting in television commercials.[2][3] He attended Valley Professional School, graduating in 1993.[1]


At the age of six, Brandis won the role of Kevin Buchanan on the soap opera One Life to Live. He moved to Los Angeles with his family at age nine and made guest appearances on shows such as Blossom; L.A. Law; Who's the Boss?; Murder, She Wrote; The Wonder Years; Full House and Kate & Allie.[4]

At the age of fourteen, Brandis was cast, in his first starring role, as Bastian Bux in The NeverEnding Story II: The Next Chapter. That same year, Brandis played the young "Stuttering Bill" Denbrough in the 1990 miniseries Stephen King's It, alongside Tim Curry, based on the epic horror novel of the same name. Brandis' performance in the film was lauded by critics and audiences. Brandis then appeared in Sidekicks, costarring with Chuck Norris, and in Ladybugs, with actor/comedian Rodney Dangerfield.

Around the age of 17, Brandis landed one of his best-known roles, as scientific prodigy Lucas Wolenczak in Steven Spielberg's futuristic science fiction series seaQuest DSV. The role propelled him into teen idol status.[5] At the height of his popularity, Brandis received approximately 4,000 fan letters a week and had to be escorted onto the set of seaQuest DSV by three studio security guards because of the many female fans present.[2] During his stint on seaQuest DSV, he co-wrote and produced an episode of the series titled "The Siamese Dream".[6] He also voiced Mozenrath, an evil young sorcerer and necromancer, in Disney's animated series Aladdin.[7]

After seaQuest DSV was canceled in 1996, Brandis appeared in the television film Her Last Chance, starring Kellie Martin.[8] His next role was in the television film Born Free: A New Adventure. Shot in South Africa, the film also starred Chris Noth as Brandis's character's father.[9] He continued his career in supporting roles in Outside Providence (1999), and Ride with the Devil (1999). In 2000, he costarred in Bad Girls from Valley High, which, because of distribution problems, was not released until 2005. Brandis had a small role in Hart's War (2002). The following year, he was cast in 111 Gramercy Park, a pilot for ABC that was not picked up by the network. He made his final onscreen appearance in action drama Puerto Vallarta Squeeze, starring Harvey Keitel and Scott Glenn. That film was also released posthumously.

In addition to acting, Brandis directed several independent films and authored screenplays.[3] He also produced and directed the short film The Slainesville Boys shortly before his death.[10]

Personal life

From 1995 to 1998, Brandis dated actress and singer Tatyana Ali. The then-couple appeared in an article in People magazine in July 1995.[11]


According to the autopsy, at approximately 11:40 p.m. on November 11, 2003, Brandis hanged himself in the hallway of his Los Angeles apartment building. His body was discovered and he was transported to the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center,[12] where he died at 2:44 p.m. on November 12 from injuries he sustained during the hanging.[12][13][14] He was 27 years old.

Brandis did not leave a suicide note. After his death, friends reported that he was depressed about his waning career, which had continued to decline in the final years of his life. He was also reportedly disappointed when his appearance in the 2002 war drama Hart's War, a role he had hoped would revive his career, was significantly reduced in the film's final cut. Brandis had begun drinking heavily and had said that he intended to kill himself.[15]

Paul Petersen, a former child actor and president of A Minor Consideration, an organization that deals with issues affecting child actors, stated: "Speculations as to the underlying cause of this tragedy are exactly that: speculations. It serves no purpose to leap to conclusions for none of us will really know what led Jonathan to his decision to take his life."[16]



Year Title Role Notes
1987 Fatal Attraction Party guest #1
1988 The Wrong Guys Kid Tim
1988 Oliver & Company Additional voice
1989 Pet Sematary Voice-over at beginning of film
1989 Stepfather II Todd Grayland
1990 Ghost Dad Additional voices
1990 The NeverEnding Story II: The Next Chapter Bastian Bux
1990 The Flash Terry Cohan
1992 Ladybugs Matthew/Martha
1992 Sidekicks Barry Gabrewski
1994 Dumb and Dumber Nick (commercial character) Uncredited
1998 Aladdin's Arabian Adventures: Magic Makers Mozenrath (voice) Direct-to-video release
1999 Outside Providence Mousy
1999 Ride with the Devil Cave Wyatt
2002 Hart's War Lewis P. Wakely Scenes deleted
2002 The Year That Trembled Casey Pedersen
2003 Between the Sheets Robert Avocado
2004 Puerto Vallarta Squeeze Neil Weatherford Released posthumously
2004 The Slainesville Boys Director, producer
Released posthumously
2005 Bad Girls from Valley High Drew Filmed in 2000; Released posthumously


Year Title Role Notes
1982–1983 One Life to Live Young Kevin Riley Buchanan Unknown episodes
1984 Kate & Allie Chip's friend Episode: "Odd Boy Out"
1986 Mystery Magical Special Himself Special
1986 Sledge Hammer! Young Sledge Episode: "They Shoot Hammers, Don't They?"
1987 Good Morning, Miss Bliss Michael Thompson Pilot
1987 Buck James Episode: "Sin of the Father"
1987 L.A. Law Kevin Talbot 2 episodes
1987 Poor Little Rich Girl: The Barbara Hutton Story Lance Reventlow (Age 11) TV movie
1988 Mars: Base One Movie
1988 Webster Bobby Episode: "Take My Cousin, Please"
1989 Full House Michael Monford Episode: "A Little Romance"
1989 Who's the Boss? Paul Episode: "Your Grandmother's a Bimbo"
1990 It Young Bill Denbrough Miniseries
1990 Murder, She Wrote Kevin Bryce Episode: "If the Shoe Fits"
1990 Alien Nation Andron Episode: "The Touch"
1990 The Munsters Today Matt Glover Episode: "The Silver Bullet"
1990 The Flash Terry Cohan Episode: "Child's Play"
1990 The Earth Day Special Himself
1991 Our Shining Moment Michael "Scooter" McGuire
1991 Gabriel's Fire Matthew Fixx Episode: "Truth and Consequences"
1991 The Wonder Years Steve Episode: "The Yearbook"
1991 Blossom Stevie Episode: "To Tell the Truth"
1991 Pros and Cons Danny Episode: "Once a Kid"
1992 Do Not Bring That Python in the House Gabriel Miller Movie
1992 Crossroads Michael Stahl Episode: "Freedom of the Road"
1993–1996 seaQuest DSV Lucas Wolenczak 57 episodes
1993 Saved By The Bell: The College Years Himself Episode: "A Thanksgiving Story"
1994 Good King Wenceslas Prince Wenceslas Television movie
1994–1995 Aladdin Mozenrath (voice) 8 episodes
1996 Her Last Chance Preston Altherton Movie
1996 Born Free: A New Adventure Randolph "Rand" Thompson Movie
1996 Fall into Darkness Chad Movie
1997 Two Came Back Jason Movie
2003 111 Gramercy Park Will Karnegian Unsold pilot

Awards and nominations

Year Association Category Title of work Result
1990 Young Artist Awards Best Young Actor Guest Starring in a Television Series The Flash Nominated
1991 Young Artist Awards Best Young Actor Starring in a Motion Picture The NeverEnding Story II: The Next Chapter Nominated
1992 Saturn Awards Best Performance by a Younger Actor The NeverEnding Story II: The Next Chapter Nominated
1993 Young Artist Awards Outstanding Young Ensemble Cast in a Motion Picture Lady Bugs (shared with cast) Nominated
1993 Young Artist Awards Best Young Actor Starring in a Motion Picture Lady Bugs Nominated
1994 Young Artist Awards Best Youth Actor Leading Role in a Television Series seaQuest DSV Won
1995 Young Artist Awards Best Performance by a Youth Actor in a TV Mini-Series or Special Good King Wenceslas Nominated

See also

  • Biography portal


  1. Gliatto, Tom (August 29, 1994). "Jonathan Brandis". People. Retrieved November 13, 2017.
  2. McLellan, Dennis (November 22, 2003). "Jonathan Brandis, Actor, Teen Idol". Sun-Sentinel. Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Retrieved June 19, 2012.
  3. Gould, Joe (January 18, 2004). "Fans Weep For Danbury Star Whose Suicide Ended Career". Danbury News-Times.
  4. "'SeaQuest DSV' actor Brandis dead at 27". CNN. November 23, 2003. Archived from the original on December 11, 2003. Retrieved May 24, 2003.
  5. Benton, Nicholas F. (December 4, 2003). "From Heartthrob to Heartache: The Suicide of a Former Teen Idol". Falls Church News-Press.
  6. The Siamese Dream on IMDb
  7. Ortega, Albert (November 24, 2003). "Teen idol Jonathan Brandis dies at 27". USAToday. Retrieved May 24, 2008.
  8. Mangan, Jennifer (April 28, 1996). "Act Two Scene One". The Item. Retrieved January 12, 2013.
  9. Heldenfels, R.D. (April 25, 1996). "Jonathan Brandis Acting His Age". The Free Lance-Star. p. D6. Retrieved January 12, 2013.
  10. The Slainesville Boys on IMDb
  11. Jewel, Dan (July 8, 1995). "Young Love".
  12. "Actor Jonathan Brandis: Suicide Investigation" (Press release). Los Angeles Police Department. November 20, 2003.
  13. "Ten actors who died in their 20s". Sydney Morning Herald. January 23, 2008. Retrieved May 24, 2008.
  14. "Teen idol Jonathan Brandis dies at 27". USA Today. November 21, 2003.
  15. "A Teen Heartthrob Takes His Life". People. December 6, 2003. Retrieved May 24, 2008.
  16. "Jonathan Brandis's Death a Suicide". E! Online. November 20, 2003. Retrieved May 24, 2008.
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