David Selby

Cussler described Gene Seagram as a beardless Abraham Lincoln.  And that’s exactly what he looks like in the film.  Thanks in part to David Selby.  In his film credentials, Mr. Selby has played Abraham Lincoln in play productions and once on television.  The script didn’t give Mr. Selby a really good shot to show his true acting potential.  His character was to shallow as compared to what we read in the novel.  If the screenwriters did their job, he would have blossomed into his character.

Biography (Press Kit)

David Selby is an American small town boy who has struck it rich, and he’s done it the hard way–in motion pictures.  The tall, handsome, Lincolnesque young man from Morgantown, West Virginia is well on his way toward becoming one of an elite group of movie stars who matter oat theater box offices.

For Selby, acting is the only way of life regardless of success.  Quiet, introspective, polite, he wears his new-found popularity in movies well.  Currently, he is among the give starred players in “Raise The Titanic!” one of this year’s most ambitious films and to be released on August 1.  Starred with Jason Robards, Richard Jordan, Anne Archer and Alec Guinness, Selby, with his shy charm and good looks, gives this important production the same quality as would a young James Stewart, Garry Cooper or Henry Fonda.

In “Raise The Titanic!” Selby is cast as Gene Seagram, a laser scientist who has devised a plan to make the United States impregnable from atomic missile attack by establishing a laser screen completely around the perimeter of the country through which nothing destructive can enter.  The world’s only supply of a vital mineral needed to power the laser screen is believed to be in a vault aboard the Titanic, lying 12,500 feet below the surface of the north Atlantic for 68 years.  Seagram has to find the ship and extract the mineral from it.  Hazards to submersibles and crews at that depth make it imperative to raise the giant hulk to the surface.

Born on February 5 in Morgantown into a family of Irish-Hungarian ancestry, but American for generations, David Lynn Selby never has lost his rural charm.  His father, Clyde Selby, is a carpenter, and his mother, Sarah, keeps house and also works at various office jobs.  David tries to get home to the family at least once each year.

After early schooling in Morgantown, David went on to West Virginia University for three years; then to Southern Illinois University.  He was still in high school when he decided to become an actor,  so his schooling included drama study, and he worked in summer stock companies in the area.

Deciding to strike out for Broadway, Selby arrived in New York and began trying to find work on the stage.  While pursuing work, he spent almost all his money on a orchestra seat for his first Broadway musical, “The Sound Of Music.”  He also gave it a standing ovation, and never has forgotten the thrill.  Tothis day, he’ll detour for miles just to stroll down Shubert Alley on Broadway.

Back in West Virginia but undaunted, David managed to get a non-union job at $50 per week with an Actors Equity company there.  He tried Broadway again–this time to audition for Joseph Papp, reading Mercutio’s lines from “Romeo And Juliet.”  He blew the lines and tasted defeat once more.  Back in West Virginia again, he joined the Barter Theatre in Virginia, then to the Cleveland Playhouse where he honed his craft for eight months.  Back to New York, and this time he made progress, first in Papp’s Off Off-Broadway production of “Sticks And Bones” by David Rabe, then a tour with Sam Levine in “The Impossible Years.”

Selby’s tall, lean physique had cast him credibly for performances as the young Abe Lincoln in three Barter Theatre productions, “Prologue To Glory,” “Last Days Of Lincoln” and “Mr. Highpockets.”  His most satisfying role, however, was his role in the Barter Theatre production of “Krapp’s Last Tape.”

In new York, Selby also appeared in the television daytime drama, “Dark Shadows,” and at the same time, nightly in the Stratford Shakespeare Theatre’s production of George Bernard Shaw’s “The Devil’s Disciple.”  He made his debut on Broadway in “The Heiress” with Jane Alexander, then went on to appear in “Ghandi,” directed by Jose Quintero.  Selby’s other stage credits include the Off-Broadway productions of “The Unseen Hand” and “Forensic And The Navigators,” both by Sam Shepard, “Siamese Connections” for Public Theatre, “Echos” by N. Richard Nash, “Cat On A Hot Tin Roof” with Sandy Dennis (on Broadway), and “Eccentricities Of a Nightingale” By Tennessee Williams.

Selby entered motion pictures with a leading role with Ron Liebman in the prouduction of “Supercops.” Next came “Up The Sandbox” with Barbra Streisand, “Night of Dark Shadows” for MGM, “The Girl In Blue,” a Canadian independent production, and “Rich Kids” for United Artists.  On television, he played leads in “Washington:  Behind Closed Doors” and “Night Rider”

Selby married Claudeis “Chip” Newman, of Beckley, West Virginia, on August 10, 1963 while they were both in college.  The couple met while he was doing summer stock there.  Later, “Chip” taught English and Creative Writing at the University.  They  now have three children: Todd, 10, Brooke, 6, and Amanda, 3.

The Selbys live in Westchester Country, N.Y. in an old farmhouse on three acres.  David (the carpenter’s son) has added a family room, enclosed porch, and built walls and walks around the house.  He also paints in oils and enjoys pencil sketching.  He writes poetry, and has just completed a play in prose.  The Selbys operate the Pleasantville Children’s Theatre in Westchester County and direct the productions.  David is an avid country & western music fan and has a large collection of records.  He is a natural athlete and enjoys tennis, basketball and baseball, as well as the spectator sports.

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Like so many of today’s movie stars, David Selby is a product of the New York theatre.  It is his first love from an artistic point of view and he views his entrance into films with mixed emotions.

Tall (six, three) and handsome in a Lincolnesque way, Selby now has played his most prominent film role to date in “Raise The Titanic!” an action-adventure drama which was filmed on twelve locations in the U.S., England and Europe.  Starred with Jason Robards, Richard Jordan, Anne Archer and Alec Guinness, he is cast in the role of an American laser scientist who develops the ultimate defense system aimed at making the U.S. impregnable from atomic attack.  The world’s only known supply of a rare mineral needed to power Selby’s system is thought to be in in the hold of the Titanic, ship-wrecked 68 years ago in the North Atlantic Ocean, hence the need to find and raise the ill-fated vessel.

During production, Selby reamined somewhat apart from the other actors, both on the set and on days off in Los Angeles, San Deigo, Washington, D.C., London, St. Ives on the Cornish coast of England, and Athens, Greece.

“I’m not a loner,” he admits, “but I sometimes need to be by myself.  My wife, Chip, and my children, Todd, Brooke and Amanda, were with me.  We sort of took off on our own when we had the time.”

Selby reminds very much of a young James Stewart or Gary Cooper, if indeed he can be yped at all.  born in Morgantown, W. Va., the son of a carpenter and a housewife, he is the epitome of a small town American boy.

“All those big cities were fine to see,” he said, “but outside of New York City, I really prefer country life–like Morgantown or Westchester County, where I now live.  Fancy hotels and jet travel and chauffeurs driving me around make me unsettled.  New York is different, somehow.  Maybe because it’s what I wanted as long as I can remember.”

Selby admits, however, that his first charge at New York resulted in a complete route.  “I took all the money I had, left college, and tried to crash Broadway,” he recalls wryly.

“First thing I did was pay scalper’s prices for my first New York show, ‘The Sound Of Music.’  It was the most wonderful thing I had ever seen.  I managed to get an audition with Joe Papp’s office, but I got so nervous I blew my lines, lost out, and went back to college in defeat.”

Selby continued to study in school–he doesn’t like to talk about it, but he holds three degrees–and also act in area stock companies.  His next foray upon Broadway was successful.  He made his debut in “The Heiress” opposite Jane Alexander.  He then went on to appear in “Ghandi,” directed by Jose Quintero.  Off-Broadway, he appeared in “The Unseen Hand” and “Forensic And The Navigators,” both by Sam Shepard, “Siamese Connections” Public Theatre, and “Echos” by N. Richard Nash.  Back on Broadway, he played Leads in “Cat On A Hot tin Roof” with Sandy Dennis and “Eccentricities Of A Nightingale,” both by Tennessee Williams.

“You must work on the stage,” he says.  “In movies you hardly stretch your acting muscles.  It’s only when you’re lucky enough to be working with one of the great proven actors like Jason (Robards) that you use all your talent.  Jason can wipe you off the wall just by raising his eyebrow.  You really learn something working with him.”

Selby and his wife own and operate a children’s theatre in Westchester County, the Pleasantville children’s Theatre, where they write and direct the productions, using local children as actors.

“That’s a joy for both of us,” he beams.  “I can’t see living in California, even if it’s close to the movie indrustry, and missing all of that.  If they want me for films, I can always commute there.  But my real home must be in the country near New York.”

Given his choice of a great role on the stage–perhaps a Shakespearean play–or an equally good role in motion pictures, what would he choose?

“I know I can reach millions more people with a movie or television role,” he pondered.  “Yet, the personal satisfaction of doing a major role for a live audience is too hard to resist for most actors.”

“I suppose I would never be rich or even famous, but I would have to choose the stage over any screen role.  However, for ‘Raise The Titanic!’ there’s fortunately no choice to make.  It couldn’t be done on the stage,” Selby said with a grin.

“Raise The Titanic!” is a Lord Grade Presentation of Martin Starger Production.  It was produced by William Frye and directed Jerry Jameson from a screenplay by Adam Kennedy, adapted from Clive Cussler’s best-selling novel.  In the U.S. and Canada, it will be relased through AFD (Associated Film Distribution) on Friday, August 1.

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Biography  by MsCrisseyDE

David Selby was born February 5, 1941, in Morgantown, West Virginia. He holds B.S. and M.A. degrees from West Virginia University and a Ph.D. from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.

He first rose to fame as Quentin Collins on the gothic ABC daytime drama Dark Shadows in 1968. Following the show’s cancellation in 1971, he went on to star in his first feature-length film, Night of Dark Shadows, the second film based on the series.

During the rest of the 1970s, he appeared in films such as Up the Sandbox, The Super Cops, and Rich Kids. He also remained active in the East Coast theatre scene, appearing in a number of New York productions both on and off Broadway.

In the early 1980s, he appeared in the films Raise the Titanic and Rich and Famous. This was followed by a brief stint on NBC’s short-lived Flamingo Road series as Michael Tyrone. He went on to portray Richard Channing on CBS’s Falcon Crest from 1982 until the end of the series in 1990.

He made a brief return to series television in the syndicated Soldier of Fortune/Special Ops Force as Xavier Trout from 1997-1999. He also appeared in films such as Dying Young, Intersection, White Squall, and D3: The Mighty Ducks.

He has continued to remain active in theatre, most recently at Hartford Stage in Conor McPherson’s St. Nicholas. He also records radio drama productions with L.A. Theatre Works, and he wrote and performed his own play, Lincoln and James.

He has made guest appearances on The Waltons, Police Woman, Kojak, Family, Promised Land, Touched by an Angel, and Ally McBeal. A recent guest appearance on the ABC series Thieves was not broadcast because of the abrupt cancellation of the series.

David has also written two volumes of poetry, My Mother’s Autumn and Happenstance, and he has several screenplays in development.

He has been married for over thirty years to his wife Chip, who is also a native West Virginian. They have two daughters and a son, Jamison Selby, who is also an actor.


Official Web Site

  • David Selby.com – The official site about Mr. Selby. Includes pictures, and a chance to get a autograph photo from David. You can even send him an e-mail personally. A must see for any David Selby fan.
  • Twitter-Official David Selby Web Site updates from webmaster B. Reardon (David doesn’t use Twitter.)
  • Facebook
  • Google+
  • YouTube

Fan Site

  • Criseyde’s David Selby Site-Next to the official site, this is probably the best fan site on Mr. Selby’s work.  With bios, pictures from his work in television and theater.  It also has a ton of wav files and much much more.