David Janssen Book Reviews



“An Inside Look into David Janssen.  Highly recommended.” – J. Gilbert on May 14, 2017

“The story is told by Ellie Janssen, David’s ex-wife.  The man she chose to write the story is Michael Phelps, David’s trusted, non-Hollywood friend and confidant for the last 15 years of his life, 1965 to 1980.  David was Ellie’s third husband, she was his first wife.  When they met, Ellie was in the midst of an affair with Frank Sinatra.  She was also several years older than David, which was undoubtedly among the sources of stress in their strained, acrimonious marriage.  Ellie’s insecurity was certainly exacerbated by David’s rising stardom and sex appeal. Their decade-long marriage was contained within the most vital time in David’s legendary Hollywood career, at the height of his international popularity.  The troubled marriage eventually led to a bitter, highly publicized celebrity divorce.  This book was written by Phelps, is highly informative, entertaining and fast paced. Just the right length to remain a consistent page-turner while providing the reader with a full and satisfying picture of David Janssen, the star of popular TV series like The Fugitive, Harry O, and Richard Diamond, as well as films like King of the Roaring 20’s: The Story of Arnold Rothstein, The Green Berets and The Shoes of The Fisherman. Highly recommended.


A great actor.” – Michele Cittadino on September 6, 2016

“David Janssen will always be my favorite actor, and I am a fan of the author Michael Phelps, I’ve read his conversations with Mr. Janssen.  These books made me feel like I knew him as a person and how he lived his life.  A must for all fans to read.


“OUTSTANDING” – K. KUHL on March 2, 2010

“Recently Michael Phelps generously sent me the hardcover version of this book after I was having trouble obtaining the Kindle version.  It was well-written and I devoured it in a few days.  And it also has several great photos.  Such a sweet story of the love between David and his first wife Ellie.  She also shares the excitement they shared as his career took off from the show “Richard Diamond-Private Detective”, during which time they met and married, and through “The Fugitive” and beyond.  It’s so sad to read of David’s frequent infidelity and his intensifying alcoholism.  If only he had been more like the Fugitive character in real life.  Such a handsome man with that sexy voice.  I’m sure women were throwing themselves at him all the time.  And, even though he had a beautiful, talented wife at home, I guess the excitement of trysts and affairs were just too hard to resist.  None of us is perfect, and I’m sure Ellie Janssen wasn’t either.  But I do believe from this book that she continued to love him until her own death.  I appreciate her sharing her good times and her heart aches with us, as I think anyone who is a fan of David Janssen will.  Read it, fans!


“OUTSTANDING” – Thriller Writer on March 12, 2010

“David Janssen, to anyone who loves Sixties television, was one the most charismatic actors of his time.  He was best known for his role as Dr. Richard Kimble, aka “The Fugitive”. a series which captivated a nation from 1963 to its ratings-record finale in 1967.

In this first authorized biography of the esteemed actor, who died suddenly in 1980 at the age of 48. writer Michael Phelps manages to weave (along with co-writer Ellie Janssen, the actor’s wife of twelve years) a compelling and enjoyable true story that covers the life of the actor, with an emphasis on the period in which he rocketed to stardom until his untimely, mysterious death.  The book is also the story of Ellie Janssen and the highs and lows of her time with David,  (and, as a bonus, there are  16 pages of celebrity photos relating to Janssen’s career.)  The combination of the show business and relationship stories make for a book that you won’t be able to put down.  The book is an insight into the lives of “the beautiful people” that we see every day on the screen, but sometimes their lives aren’t so beautiful.  And Michael Phelps manages to do an outstanding job in capturing it all in his narrative.  Ultimately, it is a story about how Ellie, despite the challenges of being married to a huge star with human flaws, fell in love and never stopped loving David, right up to the time of his death and beyond.

“DAVID JANSSEN-MY FUGITIVE” is an interesting, informative and enjoyable read.  I recommend it highly.


“David Janssen-My Fugitive” – Dee Fleischman on May 30, 2015

“I am a David Janssen fan.  I  remember always watching him.  I loved everything he was in simply for his good looks, but he was a great actor who made me believe he was that person he was portraying.  When I began reading this book I thought Ellie was not trusting enough of David, but as it went on I could understand why.  I did feel she truly loved him even after their divorce but had to resign herself to the fact he would not return to her.  David seemed to have problems in all his relationships, brought on by his own troubled mind and his increased drinking.  That alone will make a peaceful life impossible.  Ellie loved David through it all.  Not everyone gets that sort of love, even if they could not be together.  David worked so hard and put all his energies into his work. When times were good it seemed to be a dream life and when it was bad, it was a life that I don’t think many of us would want.  No matter the money, fame or good looks.  For me, this book gave me more insight into Ellie’s life and feelings for the man she loved, David Janssen.  Also letting us see this glimpse of the very handsome, but troubled David Janssen.  I think his problem with drinking was his way of trying to escape the pressures he was under from all sides.  David died way too young.  I remain a fan of David Janssen and also Michael Phelps for bringing part of David Janssen’ private life to us with the help of Ellie Janssen.  It just goes to show no matter how much fame or money, they are just human and hurt the same as any of us do.  I enjoyed reading this book with an open mind.  Thanks again Michael Phelps.


DAVID JANSSEN ~ Our Conversations: Volume One-The Early Years (1965-1972) and

DAVID JANSSEN~Our Conversations: Volume Two-The Final Years (1973-1980)


Actor LES LANNOM was a close friend and Co-Star of DAVI JANSSEN in six episodes of “HARRY O” (David’s last TV Series, and in episode 12 of “CENTENNIAL”.  This is his Review posted on Barnes and Noble Book Review.

LES LANNOM on July 4, 2015.  Format: Paperback.  FIVE STARS.

I got acquainted with Mike Phelps when he made a comment regarding an exchange I had with some of my facebook friends.  It seems he just happened to recognize my name in association with David and the work we did on “Harry O”.  I was very pleased to learn he had been friends with David, whom I have always felt was not only my friend but my mentor as well.  Mike’s and my relationship moved from the written to the spoken word rather quickly.  As I once said, “If I had wanted to be a writer, I’d have chosen a very different career.”  I found that our conversations began to fill in the blanks of my own knowledge of David, and also reaffirmed my own sense of who David Janssen was.  I ordered both biographies long before they were released and spent almost every free moment devouring them when they finally arrived.  I wasn’t all that sure of what to expect.  After all, David left us a long time ago, and I wasn’t really expecting Mike’s memories to be as clear cut and vivid as they turned out to be.  I’m certain that absolutely all of David’s dialogue in these remembered conversations weren’t verbatim. That would have been an impossibility to achieve unless all of those conversations were recorded.  What impresses me is the flavor and cadence of the writing.  They were all David.  It was a joy to read and brought back so many memories of my own.  As I neared the end of the second volume, I dreaded reaching the end.  For me, it was like watching the end of a movie about the Titanic.”


M.MATTOX on April 1, 2017  Format: KindleEdition.    FIVE STARS.

“This insight into David Janssen’s life is so amazing.  He was so classy and charismatic but there . . .

Thank you, Michael.

This insight into David Janssen’s life is so amazing.  He was so classy and charismatic but there was this seemingly impenetrable mystique. What a wonderful friend you were to him.  The conversations did several things for me.  It made me feel that no one should be treated the way David was treated,   I think this text could be used in marriage counseling.  This certainly makes one evaluate one’s own behavior towards others. Secondly, it made me appreciate openness and honesty and that it is alright to say things to people, even famous people, to open up about your genuine feelings, and that they can appreciate what you say  Well written and I feel better for having read both your books.”


Author Scoop on July 10, 2017.  Format: Kindle Edition.  FIVE STARS.

“And even though all who loved and love DJ want more of the man

Relationships are unique.  One on ones, even more so So grateful that Michael Phelps brought us inside his special friendship and relationship with David Janssen.  God bless him for coming along when he did & for being a confidante and outlet for a man being pulled in so many directions by so many people (and many who had no doubt had ulterior and self-serving motives & cared little about the Dave the man.  I honestly could not put the book down.  I found myself cheering, worrying, praying & crying right along with Dave’s Mike.  I even went back to old pages to check the dates, vicariously waiting for the next call.  I was hesitant to read the final years because I knew I would not want to put it down & I would find myself wanting more.   And even though all who loved and love DJ want more of the man, I realize Mike must keep parts of his friendship in his heart.  What a blessing this friendship was for you both.  Too many believe all the gossip, the negatives, the salacious & scandalous garbage they read without question, never having me the subject of their interest.  Well, Mike gets us as close as possible to Dave in Dave’s words & we are the better for knowing.  He does not whitewash, he does not embellish.  He simply relates the story of a special bond & friendship that will never be diminished by time, space or judgmental people who never even knew David Janssen. Highly recommend it.  Bravo, Mike, Bravo.”


Dee Fleischman on October 7, 2014. Format: KindleEdition.  FIVE STARS.

“. . . first of all, because I really like David Janssen.

I purchased this book, first of all, because I really like David Janssen, second because it was my birthday on September 27 and I gave myself a gift.   Then I started reading.  I could not put this down.  I fell asleep every night trying to keep my eyes open to read a few more words.  I learned very quickly there was a lot more to David Janssen than met the eye.  On screen,  he always looked to me, to be laid back and relaxed.   I was to soon learn from these conversations that he was a man with a lot of turmoil within him.   Also a man with a big heart and giving heart.  He was searching in his private life for the peace and contentment we all want in our life.  That was a difficult thing for Mr. Janssen, as he was always under the public microscope.  He also seemed to do all he could for the women he loved but never seemed to choose the right one for his own happiness. He was happy at times but it never seemed to last for him.  As I continued to read the conversations between David Janssen and his good friend Michael Phelps, my years of watching The Fugitive came back to me and I could actually hear David Janssen’s voice.  I feel I understand and know the real person much better after reading these personal conversations.  I am happy to know there was someone for him to turn to when he needed to talk to a true friend, namely Mike, his trusted friend.  If you ever watched any of the shows or movies David was in, you would immediately like him.  I still remember what a handsome guy he was and what a nice smile he had.  He hid his problems well. You will not be wasting money on this book, believe me,  it will hold your interest and you will feel like you are looking through a window, listening and watching, when you should really turn away but need to hear just one more conversation.   I enjoyed reading this book very much.”


NOTE:  There are 31 Customer Reviews for “DAVID JANSSEN-MY FUGITIVE”; Thirty-eight Customer Reviews for “DAVID JANSSEN ~ Our Conversations: Volume One-The Early Years”  and 30 Customer Reviews for “DAVID JANSSEN ~ Our Conversations-The Final Years” posted on AMAZON.com   You are invited to read them all.  Some Writers solicit or even pay for “professional” Reviews of their work.  I never have, nor will I.  

I value ALL Reviews; the GOOD, the Bad, even a couple I would say were UGLY.  I invite you to post your own Reviews (IF you have read the books), and to ask any questions you may have about David Janssen.  If I can provide a factual answer, I will be pleased to do so.

Thank you.