Diane Brewster (March 11, 1931 – November 12, 1991) was an American television actress most noted for playing three distinctively different roles in television series of the 1950s and 1960s: confidence trickster Samantha Crawford in the western Maverick; pretty young second-grade teacher Miss Canfield in Leave It to Beaver; and doomed wife Helen Kimble in The Fugitive.
Diane Brewster was a direct descendant of Pilgrim Elder William Brewster, Governor of Plymouth Colony William Bradford, and 18th-century American poet and writer Martha Wadsworth Brewster.
She and her husband, Dr. Jabe Walker, an oral surgeon, had a son, Dean C. Walker (born March 29, 1960) and a daughter, Lynn D. Walker (born July 25, 1961). Both children were born in Los Angeles, California. Jabe Z. Walker died in February 2013.
On Maverick, Brewster's character is a gorgeous gambling con artist who often affects a southern accent but is ultimately likable. Brewster first played the character in a 1956 episode of Cheyenne entitled "Dark Rider" before appearing opposite James Garner in the third episode of Maverick, "According to Hoyle". Her other Maverick appearances include "The Savage Hills" with Jack Kelly, "The Seventh Hand" with Garner, and the famous "Shady Deal at Sunny Acres" with both Kelly and Garner.
Brewster played Miss Canfield on Leave It to Beaver for the first season on CBS in 1957-1958 and for the 1980s television revivals. Brewster appeared in the show's pilot, "It's a Small World," as Miss Simms, a secretary with a dairy company, and in four regular season episodes as Miss Canfield. In Episode 1 she appears in the credits as "Diana Brewster", a mistake which was corrected in her next appearance in Episode 8. Brewster was replaced by Sue Randall as "Miss Landers" on the second season of Leave It to Beaver.
In 1957, she co-starred with George Montgomery in the western film Black Patch, playing his former and future love interest. On January 31, 1959, Brewster played a similar role to that of Samantha Crawford in ABC's Maverick, as Lisa Caldwell in the episode "Runaway Train" of NBC's Cimarron City western television series; re-teaming with George Montgomery, as Mayor Matt Rockford, he falls in love with Lisa while they are traveling on a train carrying a group of prisoners. A man from Lisa's past, played by Lyle Talbot, is also aboard and complicates Rockford's pursuit of Lisa. It is revealed that Lisa is a professional gambler from St. Louis, Missouri, who had shot to death a man who had been threatening her. She then fled by train with plans to reach Denver, Colorado.
Also in 1959, Brewster made an appearance in The Young Philadelphians playing the mother of Paul Newman's character. (Newman was six years her senior.) She made almost fifty appearances in various other television and film roles, including episodes of Crusader, Wanted: Dead or Alive, Tombstone Territory and Harbor Command. In 1959, she played the wife of Ronald Reagan's character in an installment of the General Electric Theatre anthology series, "Nobody's Child", and portrayed Marian Dell in the episode "Law of the Badlands" of the syndicated western series Frontier Doctor starring Rex Allen.
In 1960, Brewster had a starring role as Wilhelmina "Steamboat Willy" Vanderveer in The Islanders, an hour-long adventure series set in the South Pacific, with William Reynolds and James Philbrook. That same year, she also portrayed the titular role in "The Lita Foladaire Story," an episode of Wagon Train with Ward Bond and silent film star Evelyn Brent, in which Brewster's character had been killed before the start of the show, with her sections of the story posthumously depicted in flashbacks.
Brewster subsequently guest starred on Empire and in The Rifleman episode, "Jealous Man" in 1962; on The Dakotas in 1963; on the 1963 Perry Mason episode, "The Case of the Potted Planter", and in the premiere episode of Kentucky Jones (1964). Brewster appeared several times in flashbacks, uncredited, as the murdered wife, Helen Kimble, in The Fugitive. She appeared in a two episodes of Death Valley Days, in a 1966 episode of Family Affair, and in an installment of Ironside (1968) before retiring. She reappeared in four episodes of The New Leave It to Beaver.
Diane Brewster died from heart failure in 1991, aged 60.