Books about David Janssen

Deeply personal insights bring iconic actor, David Janssen, to life.

A trio of books by Ellie Janssen and David Janssen’s close friend, Michael Phelps, reveal the off-screen character of the man known as, “the hardest actor in television and film.”

Even today, decades after his death, viewers remember the beloved actor who garnered international fame as “Dr. Richard Kimble,”  wrongly convicted of killing his wife in the television series,“The Fugitive.”   The climactic two-part conclusion set a Nielsen record for the most-watched television series, with 72 percent of all U. S. households tuned in – an estimated 32 million people. The record remained until March of 1980.

That role was just one of many David Janssen played in his 34-year career. He appeared in 44 feature films, 21 Made-for-Television movies, starred in four television series, made countless guest star appearances in other television series and on a variety of talk shows. Be sure to take a look at Janssen’s extensive film credits.

 David Janssen ~ Our Conversations: Volume One

David Janssen Our Conversations Early Years

In DAVID JANSSEN ~ Our Conversations: Volume One-The Early Years (1965-1972) and DAVID JANSSEN ~ Our Conversations: Volume Two-The Final Years (1973-1980), Michael Phelps shares hundreds of conversations in which the iconic actor revealed his innermost, private thoughts – thoughts he shared with only a few of his closest friends.

Topics include his career, his marriage, and bitter divorce from Ellie; his relationship with his mother, Berneice, and his stepfather, Gene Janssen; his sisters Jill and Teri; Ellie’s daughters; many of his roles, actors, directors, producers, and writers with whom he worked. Michael Phelps makes the disclaimer that,  “not all conversations are verbatim, that would be a human impossibility, but they are pretty close. When you have a friend like David, you never forget.”

Together, the three books provide David Janssen’s millions of fans with a candid look at his private life. The books offer a rare opportunity to observe the breathtakingly handsome actor off-screen. From his romantic interests to his demons, to his career ups and downs, he is revealed to be a down-to-earth guy – a kind, a compassionate, and a sensitive man whose celebrity prevented him from living an ordinary life.

David Janssen died at age 48 of a massive heart attack, shocking the world. The ugly rumors and suspicions surrounding his death are addressed in the books. All of Hollywood Royalty and thousands of his devoted fans attended his services on Sunday, February 17, 1980. Ellie attended with her daughter Diane and friends, Kay Donno and Peggy Burke – former wife of Actor Paul Burke. It was Ellie’s Birthday.

DAVID JANSSEN ~ Our Conversations: Volume One-The Early Years

Michael Phelps, a close friend and confidant of David Janssen recounts meeting the Star of “THE FUGITIVE: at a Hollywood party he was working as part of the Security detail. There began an unlikely friendship that developed over the last fifteen years of Mr. Janssen’s life. In Volume One, Mike Phelps describes many late-night telephone calls from the actor in which he disclosed his innermost, private thoughts relating to his failing marriage, his career, many of the Hollywood Producers, Directors, and Stars with whom he worked. He recalls the most painful period in his life, the long and nasty divorce from his first wife, Ellie Janssen.


 David Janssen ~ Our Conversations: Volume Two  

David Janssen Our Conversations Book 2 Cover

David Janssen’s four years “On The Run” as Dr. Richard Kimble – THE FUGITIVE”  finally came to an end in a two-part episode titled “The Judgement” on August 29, 1967.  The climactic end of the series set a Nielsen’s Rating of 72% of all U. S. household televisions tuned in.  David Janssen was instantly recognized when out in public, world wide.  He had earned his place on the Hollywood “A” list and was known as the “the hardest working actor in Hollywood.”  It was estimated he had garnered the love and devotion of 32 million fans, men and women, around the world.

What his adoring fans did not know was his marriage to Ellie had been in turmoil by the  end of the second season of filming “THE FUGITIVE”.  David made every effort to save his marriage, even going with Ellie to a Marriage Counselor.   By the middle of the third season of “THE FUGITIVE”, he wanted a divorce.  He discussed his marital problems with his Agent Abby Greshler, Executive Producer Quinn Martin, and a few very close friends.  Abby and Quinn told him in no uncertain terms, HE could NOT get a divorce!  It wold hurt “THE FUGITIVE” ratings, and possibly “ruin his career.”  David just could not bear Ellie’s insecurities and insane jealousy, but he knew he had to.  Ellie’s insecurities were based on the fact she was much older than David, she was not in the Television-Film industry, and she could not stand watching David’s “make believe” love scenes with glamorous Guest Stars week after week.

Although ABC Television Network and Quinn Martin felt “THE FUGITIVE” could “keep on running” for a fifth season, and offered David a very substantial increase in his compensation package, he was determined to bring the series to an end.  He was both physically and mentally exhausted.  Quinn Martin decided that ending the season with a “cliff hanger”, in hopes of resurrecting it in the future, they would have a “resolution”, one that the fans would accept, and see their “hero” vindicated.

At the conclusion of filming the final episode of “THE FUGITIVE” in March of 1967, David accepted the role of “Journalist George Beckworth” in John Wayne’s “THE GREEN BERETS.”  Immediately  after filming on “The Green Berets”, he accepted the role of “Journalist George Faber” in “THE SHOES of the FISHERMAN”, Starring Anthony Quinn.  The feature film was made in Italy.  It was a perfect opportunity to attempt again to  repair his marriage, he took Ellie on an ocean liner cruise to Europe., to be with him during the filming.  They leased a Villa, once used by Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.  His efforts to show Ellie HE loved her, was to no avail.   Back in Los Angeles, on August 23, 1968 during a small, intimate dinner party hosted by DANI and BUDDY GRECO, to celebrate David and Ellie’s tenth wedding anniversary, David took Ellie onto the balcony, gave her two lovely gifts, and told her their marriage was over.  He left the party immediately, without explanation.

David concentrated on his work and career, making four feature films during 1969 and 1970.  The divorce proceedings began in in early 1969, and became a sordid, salacious topic for tabloid press headlines. The divorce proceedings crept at a very slow pace through the system as Ellie’s attorneys made every attempt to portray David as an “alcoholic and adulterer” – neither of which was true – or believed  by his fans. It was, however, during the divorce proceedings, David met ROSEMARY FORSYTH, his Co-star in  the feature film “WHERE IT’S AT”, and they fell in love.

In this Volume, continue reading the private, innermost thoughts of DAVID JANSSEN, and you will see what a REAL, down-to-earth, kind, compassionate man he truly was.

DAVID JANSSEN ~ Our Conversations: Volume Two-The Final Years

DAVID JANSSEN’s career soared with his four years run as “THE FUGITIVE”. The two-part climactic conclusion on August 29, 1967 set a Nielsen Rating of 72% of all U. S. Household televisions tuned in (an estimated 32 million viewers, a record that remained until March 1980. David went on to Co-Star in “SHOES of the FISHERMAN” with Anthony Quinn; “THE GREEN BERETS” with John Wayne, and Star of “WARNING SHOT”. and “MACHO CALLAHAN”. In addition, he Starred in “WHERE IT’S AT” where he met and fell in love with his co-star ROSEMARY FORSYTH. Mike Phelps continues to recall hundreds of conversations between David and himself covering his two years affair with Rosemary, their break-up, and his affair with DANI CRAYNE GRECO, their marriage in October 1975, and their volatile relationship. He discusses their many separations, and his plans to divorce DANI. SADLY, DAVID JANSSEN suffered a massive heat attack in the early morning hours of Wednesday, March 13, 1980 leading to his death.


                                    My Fugitive David Janssen

 David Janssen ~ My Fugitive

In DAVID JANSSEN ~ MY FUGITIVE, Ellie Janssen (co-authored by David’s close friend, Michael Phelps) gives his fans an intimate look at Janssen during their ten years of marriage.

David Janssen married Ellie Graham on August 23, 1958.  He was her third husband, she was his first wife. At that time David was starring in “Richard Diamond – Private Detective.” He had been handpicked by Actor/Director/Producer Dick Powell to bring the show to television that Powell had played on the radio. Powell felt he was too old and not the dashing, debonair man the “Diamond” character called for; David Janssen  tall, dark and handsome – was.

The “Diamond” series was David’s first “big break” in television and film. At the beginning of the third season, David and Ellie had married. David was referred to Mr. Abner Greshler, a Lawyer-Agent for some of the biggest stars in the film and television industry.

Mr. Greshler was impressed with David and agreed to represent him. First, he negotiated with the William Morris Agency to release David from his contract with them. Next, he renegotiated David’s contract with Dick Powell’s company, Four Stars Productions, for David’s starring role in “Diamond.”

David and Ellie were left speechless when Mr. Greshler presented him his new contract – with a salary increase from $750.00 per episode to $7,500.00 per episode. Mr. Greshler and David Janssen signed contracts every three years for the remainder of his life, Mr. Greshler was David’s Agent at a “standard” fee of 10% of all David’s earnings.

In 1962, Producer Quinn Martin approached Mr. Greshler and said he wanted David Janssen to play the starring role in a new television series called “The Fugitive.”  Mr. Greshler negotiated David’s contract which provided David with 20% ownership of the series, based on the “unknown” factors:  the concept of the show and the fact it had been purchased by ABC Television Network (at the time a fledgling network on the brink of bankruptcy.)

By the middle of the second season, “The Fugitive” was a “hit”, making David a multi-millionaire and saving ABC Television Network from extinction. David and Ellie built a custom home in the exclusive Trousdale Estates in Los Angeles. By the end of the second season of, “The Fugitive, David had become an international star.

There were also problems boiling in their marriage. Ellie recounts the shock and pain she experienced on the night of their 10th wedding anniversary. At an intimate party in their honor hosted by neighbors Dani and Buddy Greco, David took Ellie onto the balcony, presented her with a diamond encrusted gold bracelet and a Cartier wristwatch, and told her he was filing for divorce. He turned and abruptly left the apartment without a word to Dani, Buddy, and the guests.


Ellie gives an intimate portrait of her love for DAVID JANSSEN.. She recounts their whirlwind courtship, a hasty marriage in Las Vegas and his meteoric rise to fame as “Dr. Richard D. Kimble” in the ground-breaking, award-winning, and record setting “THE FUGITIVE” (A Q-M Production of ABC Television Network. She recalls her life as the wife of one of Hollywood’s most beloved Stars. She tells of her deep and enduring love for him, even through a protracted (two years) and contentious divorce proceeding.



After several years of being urged and inspired by a few friends and many, many fans of David Janssen, Michael Phelps wrote his own memoir of his friendship with David Janssen over the last fifteen years of the actor’s life.  It was Award Winning Singer/Songwriter Carol Connors, one of two women David loved and lost, who finally convinced him that David’s story had to be told.


6 MAY 2018

We are pleased to announce that Michael Phelps and Les Lannom (Co-star with David Janssen in the “HARRY O” series and in episode 12 of “CENTENNIAL” have teamed up to produce DAVID JANSSEN-Our Conversations in an AUDIO BOOK EDITION!  The Producer will be HOLLY KEE, Les’ recording partner and Engineer.  Click on the Soundcloud link below for a brief sample:










31 thoughts on “Books about David Janssen

  1. Robert Maxwell

    Good evening Mr. Phelps! What is the cost for all 3 books? I would love to have you autograph them also. If their is an extra charge for the autographs too please advise. You’re response back well be greatly appreciated my friend.


      Good Evening, Mr. Maxwell,

      Thank you for your interest in Dave’s books.

      We had a print overrun an thus are having a Limited Time Offer, all three books at 50% OFF, $24.08, plus S/H of $3.65 total of $27.73.

      Of course, I will be pleased to sign your books, just send me an email and tell me how you would like the inscription to be worded.

      THANK YOU for being a loyal fan of David Janssen. Plese, call me Mike.

      Mike Phelps


    JOIN BECKY CARDENAS (Administrator of Fugitive: TV Series (1963), HOLLY ZANE and 58 others to help us meet our goal . . . only 50 copies left for our LIMITED TIME OFFER – 50% OFF ALL 3 DAVID JANSSEN BOOKS”.

    You can take advantage of this offer right here with the security of PayPal.


  3. Pearl

    Hey Mike: Haven’t heard from you in awhile, but then again I had not been very good about staying in contact as well. I sent a lengthy email to your personal email. Did you ever see it? Anyway, I have now completed reading both of your books – much more interesting than Ellie’s self-serving memoirs. I have a number of questions. Given your pretty obvious feelings about how Ellie treated Dave, I’m a bit surprised that you even agreed to co-write the memoir with her.


    Good Evening, Roger,

    First, on 27 July, my main computer was stolen along with my external Toro Hard Drive. Unfortunately, I had NO backup and thus lost all my emails/email addresses, contact lists – everything. Even HP Super smart geeks could not recover anything for me. Fortunately, I did have a lot of David Janssen material saved on USB Flash Drives.

    If you have a copy and could resend your lengthy email, I would love to read and respond.

    To answer your question as to WHY I continued to work with Ellie on her manuscript. I explained much of that in the Preface to “Our Conversations – Volume One”.Her Memoir was first published in hardcover in December 1994. I had NO intentions whatsoever of writing my own memoirs of the thousands of conversations between Dave and me. Many of Dave’s friends who knew of our friendship and hundreds of his fans urged me, pressured me, and finally inspired me to write “Our Conversations”. Working with Ellie over the span of four years, traveling to Las Vegas, Beverly Hills, Palm Springs, and New York City to interview many of their friends (some actors who knew and had worked with Dave) was the hardest “job” I have ever held. As I relate in the Preface, there were numerous occasions where Ellie and I had sharp disputes, when I made mention what she was saying in her book WAS not in line with what Dave had expressed to me, especially in relating to incidents and people involved. She erupted in a rage that I had heard of directly from Dave but could not believe it was as vile as he had related. I was shocked, and at that point made the decision to just WRITE what SHE said. At that point, I was heavily involved in the project, both financially and man-hours, and we had worked it out to where I would own fifty percent of the Copyrights. Writing my memoirs of our friendship had not entered my mind.

    Surprisingly, Ellie’s Memoir was edited, cut-down from over 300 pages to 180 by the original publisher. A lot of what she said was not even in the finished book, for which I was pleased. Even more surprising to me, her book sold in excess of 1.2 Million copies combined of the first edition hardcover, and paperback editions released in 1995. 1996, and 1997. That to me was a testament to Dave’s legions of loyal, dedicated fans around the world.

    On the surface, and of course, in public, Ellie was a very sophisticated and cultured lady. She was, by all appearances, the “perfect Hollywood Wife”. Yet, to those, friends and some colleagues of Dave’s who saw her not infrequent displays of temper were well aware of what Dave was living with during the last five years of their marriage. Her temper, her mistrust of Dave was on display for the world to see during their two years long divorce proceeding, which at the time was the longest running divorce proceeding in California history! She changed lawyers numerous times just to delay the proceedings. She even accused the Judge (Richard Wells) of being “gay” and having a “crush” on Dave. Of course, the court transcripts clearly show the Judge ruled in her favor with clear impartiality.

    I do not regret working with her on her Memoir, after all, it led me to write mine. I will let Dave’s fans draw their own conclusions, and I hope the Fans/readers will see the kind, compassionate, sensitive man Dave really was. I hope I have given you a satisfactory answer to your very valid question.

    I look forward to following ‘PeralsnmBlog’ on WordPress. Your words of wisdom, your Editorials, your Wit and your lovely wife’s artwork are a bright spot in mine, as well as ALL your fans lives. Thank you.




    Good Morning, Mike,

    Thank you for letting me know you received your David Janssen books.

    I do hope you enjoy this insight into his “off-screen” personality and his thoughts in dealing with a lot of marital discord.




    Hello, Johnny Buck.

    Will this be okay?

    “For Johnny Buck,
    THANK YOU for being a loyal fan of “THE FUGITIVE” and David Janssen. I hope you will enjoy this personal insight to one extraordinary man, a real down-to-earth, sensitive, compassionate man. – Best Wishes, Mike Phelps”

    Best, Mike

  7. Jason Gilbert

    Mike, though I have owned all three books for some time, I am going to order an additional set. Only one of my current books is signed, and it was well before we really knew each other. Please tell me you will humble and honor me with signed editions of all three books as part of this order! Also, how do I account for the difference in shipping cost to Canada when I place my order? Feel free to respond either here or by email. Thanks!


    Good Morning, Jason,

    I will be pleased to honor your request. Although I normally charge $100 (US) for signing the books (for family and friends), there will be no such charge to you! (Okay, you know I am just injecting some of Dave’s wit).

    I will check the shipping rate to Canada and let you know ASAP. I know, we shipped “David Janssen-My Fugitive” to Canada last Monday, and it was $21.17 (US) – that is ridiculous, but I had no choice. I’ll check for certain and let you know Monday via email.


    • Jason Gilbert

      Thank you, Mike!! I’ll certainly opt for the cheapest possible shipping method for the 3 books. That said, please do not think of absorbing any of the cost. Whatever it is, I expect to cover it.

      • Jason Gilbert

        Received mine in the mail yesterday! Thanks for the prompt shipping and beautiful personalized notes! Merry Christmas and happy new year, Mike!


    Thank you for your kind words. Dave Janssen does indeed live on, in the hearts and minds of those who knew him well, and most of all in the hearts and minds of his devoted fans to whom he gave so many cherished memories of his incomparable talents.

    As soon as I read ARIZONA TRAGEDY, I will move to the BILLY CRAYNE MYSTERIES, all by YOU, of course. I loved your Prologue of STRANGER ABDUCTION! Definitely a must reaad, and no doubt “ripped from the headlines” as Dick Wolf says.


  10. Sue H

    Hello Mike. I just ordered the set of 3 books on David and look forward to receiving them. If you could sign the two you wrote with this “To Sue, a devoted fan of David’s during the original run of The Fugitive TV show” I would be very much appreciative. My best to you. Sue



      Your DAVID JANSSEN BOOKS have been posted. You can expect to receive them on Saturday, 9 Decembef 2017.
      I sincerely hope you enjoy this personal insight into the “off-screen” David Janssen.

      Best Wishes,
      Mike Phelps

  11. Michael Phelps (@MichaelPhelps3)



    Mike Phelps


    * * * BREAKING NEWS * * *
    I have teamed up with Actor LES LANNOM, whom you all know Co-starred with DAVID JANSSEN in six episodes of “HARRY O'” and in episode 12 of “CENTENNIAL”, to produce an AUDIOBOOK of “DAVID JANSSEN~Our Conversations”, He is commencing on the project today, and I have his permission to post the Preface and Chapter One here. It will be the only “teaser” for the Audiobook I will post, so I will appreciate any and all comments. One BONUS for David Janssen’s fans, I have asked and Les agrees to insert HIS own personal memories and anecdotes of what it was like to work with Dave, to have him as his Mentor, his humor and the fun they had on “Harry O”, and the relaxing times in Dave’s Silver Bullet, with some good ol’ Irish Whiskey!

    Best to all,

  13. Carol Bianchi


    I ordered tonight the two David Janssen-Our Conversations -Early Years and also Final Years. Please leave a reply that you have received the order.
    Can you please inscribe both of them with a message. i will leave the messaging up to you. Whatever you want to say, I will be fine with it. And please autograph each one. We have communicated on Goodreads, Amazon, David Janssen website and I also joined Twitter recently.
    I would be very honored to have them inscribed and autographed. These will be in my collection of David Janssen Treasures.
    Carol Bianchi

  14. Mike Phelps

    Good Evening, Carol,
    I just received your orders for Dave’s books. I have inscribed each with different notes to you.
    They will be posted in the morning, and it usually takes 7-10 business days for you to receive them by U. S.
    Postal Service. I truly hope you enjoy them.

    Best Wishes,

    Mike Phelps

  15. Becky Cardenas

    Hi Mike…I hope that you are on the complete road to recovery and I am glad to see you back with our Fugitive group…get well and we love and truly missed you!! I just ordered another set of your books for “THE DAY THE RUNNING STOPPED” GIVEAWAY that I will be announcing to our members of THE FUGITIVE: THE TV SERIES GROUP tomorrow (Aug. 22nd-Aug.29th ) and will last throughout the week. Don’t forget to enter!!
    Becky Cardenas


      Good Evening, Linda,

      Thank you for your interest, and mostly for being a Fan of DAVID JANSSEN and THE FUGITIVE.

      Yes, all three of the David Janssen Books are available.

      At present. This offer is available , we are offering DAVID JANSSEN-MY FUGITIVE by Ellie Janssen and Michael Phelps FREE with the purchase of DAVID JANSSEN-Our Conversations: Volume One-The Early Years (1965-1972) and DAVID JANSSEN-Our Conversations: Volume Two-The Final Years (1973-1980). This offer is available ONLY through DAVIDJANSSEN website, Click on “Books about David Janssen” and scroll down to each title. DO NOT ORDER “DAVID JANSSEN-MY FUGITIVE”, your FREE copy will be shipped with the Conversations books. You can place your order with the security of PayPal, using any credit or debit card. Be sure an include the way you would like to have the inscription.

      Best Wishes,

      Mike Phelps


      Hi Linda,

      I am sorry for the delay in responding to you. I have undergone three major surgeries for Lung and Throat Cancer here at the Miami Veterans Medical Center. As a result, I have not been able to spend as much time on the computer.

      The Discounted price for Dave’s books expired, but if you contact me direct at:, I will send you inscribed books at the discounted price.

      If you are in the United States, I suggest you pick up a copy of CLOSER Entertainment Magazine. Reporter Katie Bruno wrote an interseting article about Dave (Page 24).

      Thank you for being a devoted fan of David Janssen.

      Best regards,
      Mike Phelps

  16. Becky Cardenas

    Hi Mike…I hope all is well and that you are staying safe. I am ordering 2 sets of your fabulous books for THE DAY THE RUNNING STOPPED CONTEST for our FUGITIVE group (THE FUGITIVE:THE TV SERIES (1963-1967) it will be held this month of August. Please autograph them for a member as usual. Thank you so much! And always remember that you are in my heart and in my prayers! Please stay safe my dear friend…

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