David Canary, Star of 'All My Children' for Decades, Dies at 77

David Canary - H 2015
Courtesy of Photofest

David Canary - H 2015

He masterfully played the twin brothers Stuart and Adam Chandler, one good and the other evil, on the ABC soap opera.

David Canary, who for nearly three decades played the twin brothers Adam and Stuart Chandler on the ABC soap opera All My Children, has died. He was 77.

Canary, who earlier portrayed Candy Canaday, the ranch foreman of the Ponderosa, on the iconic NBC Western Bonanza, died Nov. 16 of natural causes at an assisted living facility in Wilton, Conn., his family announced.

The blue-eyed Canary first appeared on All My Children as Adam in 1984 and received five outstanding actor Emmy Awards and 16 nominations through 2001. He retired from acting in 2010 but returned to play the Chandler brothers for several days before the show’s emotional September 2011 finale.

Adam was underhanded, evil and one of Pine Valley's wealthiest men, while Stuart — who was introduced to the show a year after Adam — was his meek, traumatized twin brother. Adam often impersonated Stuart to get what he wanted, once locking up Stuart in the Chandler mansion for years.

Adam also used blackmail to manipulate several people, targeting Erica Kane (Susan Lucci) so that she would marry him again and forcing Leo du Pres (Josh Duhamel) to help break up Marian (Jennifer Bassey) and Stuart’s marriage. He also convinced Gloria Marsh (Teresa Blake) to leave Stuart and marry him instead, later imprisoning her in an abandoned building.

And when drugged by David Hayward (Vincent Irizarry), Adam accidentally shot and killed his brother — but, it turns out, he wasn’t dead at all!

A native of Elwood, Ind., Canary played offensive and defensive end for Ohio’s famed Massillon Tigers of Washington High School before earning a football scholarship to the University of Cincinnati. He graduated with a major in music.

Instead of accepting an offer to turn pro with the American Football League’s Denver Broncos in its first year, Canary went to New York to pursue acting, and he made his Broadway debut in Great Day in the Morning in 1962 opposite Colleen Dewhurst.

After two years in the U.S. Army, Canary came to Los Angeles and appeared in Hombre (1967) with Paul Newman, as a mobster in The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre (1967) with Jason Robards and in Sharks' Treasure (1975) with Cornel Wilde. He also drew attention for playing Mia Farrow’s physical therapist Russ Gehring in the hugely popular ABC nighttime soap Peyton Place.

Producer David Dortort saw Canary shine in Hombre and in a two-part Gunsmoke episode in 1967 and hired him to play Canaday soon afterward. The handsome actor left briefly in a contract dispute but was with the series until it ended in 1973.

When Leonard Nimoy and the producers of Star Trek were locked in a contract dispute of their own, Canary was one of the top candidates to play Mr. Spock, according to the 1996 book Inside Star Trek — The Real Story.

Canary also played shrewd businessman Steve Frame on the NBC soap opera Another World from 1981 until 1983, when his character was killed off in a car crash, before joining All My Children.

Canary also appeared on Broadway in 1980 in Tennessee Williams’ final play, Clothes for a Summer Hotel, opposite Geraldine Page.

Survivors include his wife of more than 33 years, Maureen; children Christopher and Kathryn; brother John; and grandson Donovan.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Alzheimer’s Association’s David Canary Memorial Fund.

Twitter: @mikebarnes4