Dr. Donald Brandon, a Manhattan internist who grew up in showbiz and had patients including Marlon Brando, Tennessee Williams and a long line of foreign correspondents, died Wednesday, June 15, of heart failure. He was 84.
Brandon was medical director to the Associated Press for many years.
“If one of the people at AP were to call from some remote outpost and have some exotic tropical disease, my father would stay on the phone for hours and make sure he was getting the right treatment,” Brandon’s son, Richard, said.
Donald Brandon was also an official physician to the United Nations, his son said.
Brandon was born in Memphis, Tenn., the son of touring vaudevillians, and grew up on the road. After his parents’ death, he would occasionally serve as an assistant in his sister’s magic act or a bass player in her band.
He served with the Army in the South Pacific. Afterward, he graduated from the U. of Denver and the U. of Texas Southwestern Medical School. He established his New York practice and worked until 2008.
With his show business and medical connections, Brandon became friends with many celebrities including Brando, Williams, Lenny Bruce and explorer Thor Heyerdahl, his son said.
When the AP’s foreign correspondents returned to New York on leave, Brandon’s office was a mandatory stop for a checkup and whatever inoculations were called for.
In addition to his son Richard, Brandon is survived by his second wife, Joyce; a daughter, Leslie; and seven grandchildren.