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Robert Ryan

Robert Bushnell Ryan (November 11, 1909 – July 11, 1973) was an American  actor who often played hardened cops and ruthless villains. Ryan was born in Chicago, Illinois, the first child of Timothy Ryan and his wife Mabel Bushnell Ryan.  He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1932, having held the school's heavyweight boxing title all four years of his attendance. After graduation, the 6'4" Ryan found employment as a stoker on a ship, a WPA worker, and a ranch hand in Montana. Ryan attempted to make a career in show business as a playwright, but had to turn to acting to support himself. He studied acting in Hollywood and appeared on stage and in small film parts during the early 1940s. In January 1944, after securing a contract guarantee from RKO Radio Pictures, Ryan enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and served as a drill instructor at Camp Pendleton, in San Diego, California. At Camp Pendleton, he befriended writer and future director Richard Brooks, whose novel, The Brick Foxhole, he greatly admired. He also took up painting. Ryan's breakthrough film role was as an anti-Semitic killer in Crossfire (1947), a film noir based on Brooks's novel. The role won Ryan his sole career Oscar nomination, for Best Supporting Actor. From then on, Ryan's specialty was tough/tender roles, finding particular expression in the films of directors such as Nicholas Ray, Robert Wise and Sam Fuller. In Ray's On Dangerous Ground (1951) he portrayed a burnt-out city cop finding redemption while solving a rural murder. In Wise's The Set-Up (1949), he played an over-the-hill boxer who is brutally punished for refusing to take a dive. Other important films were Anthony Mann's western The Naked Spur, Sam Fuller's uproarious Japanese set gangland thriller House of Bamboo, Bad Day at Black Rock, and the socially conscious heist movie Odds Against Tomorrow. He also appeared in several all-star war films, including The Longest Day (1962) and Battle of the Bulge (1965), and The Dirty Dozen. He also played John the Baptist in MGM's Technicolor epic King of Kings (1961) and was the villainous Claggart in Peter Ustinov's adaptation of Billy Budd (1962). In his later years, Ryan continued playing significant roles in major films. Most notable of these were The Dirty Dozen, The Professionals (1966) and Sam Peckinpah's highly influential brutal western The Wild Bunch (1969). Ryan appeared several times on the Broadway stage. His credits there include Clash by Night, Mr. President and The Front Page, the comedy drama about newspapermen. He appeared in many television series as a guest star, including the role of Franklin Hoppy-Hopp in the 1964 episode "Who Chopped Down the Cherry Tree?" on the NBC medical drama about psychiatry, The Eleventh Hour. Similarly, he guest starred as Lloyd Osment in the 1964 episode "Better Than a Dead Lion" in the ABC psychiatric series, Breaking Point. In 1964, Ryan appeared with Warren Oates in the episode "No Comment" of CBS's short-lived drama about newspapers, The Reporter, starring Harry Guardino in the title role of journalist Danny Taylor. Ryan appeared five times (1956–1959) on CBS's Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater and twice (1959 and 1961) on the Zane Grey spin-off Frontier Justice. He appeared three times (1962–1964) on the western Wagon Train.

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Nov 11, 1909 In Chicago, Illinois, USA
Movie/TV Credits:
First Appeared:
In the movie Womanpower 1926-09-19
Latest Project:
Movie The Spencer Tracy Legacy: A Tribute by Katharine Hepburn 1986-03-09
Known For
Movie The Spencer Tracy Legacy: A Tribute by Katharine Hepburn 1986-03-09
Movie Lolly-Madonna XXX Pap Gutshall 1973-02-21
Movie The Outfit Mailer 1973-10-01
Movie Executive Action Foster 1973-11-07
Movie The Iceman Cometh Larry Slade 1973-11-10
Movie Lawman Sabbath Marshal Cotton Ryan 1971-03-11
Movie The Wild Bunch Deke Thornton 1969-06-17
Movie Simon and Garfunkel: Songs of America Himself - Host 1969-11-30
Movie Anzio Gen. Carson 1968-07-24
Movie The Dirty Dozen Col. Everett Dasher Breed 1967-06-15
Movie The Dirty Game General Bruce 1965-06-23
Movie Battle of the Bulge General Grey 1965-12-16
Movie Billy Budd John Claggart, Master of Arms 1962-11-12
Movie The Longest Day Brig. Gen. James M. Gavin 1962-09-25
Movie Day of the Outlaw Blaise Starrett 1959-07-01
Movie Odds Against Tomorrow Earle Slater 1959-10-15
Movie Men in War Lt. Benson 1957-06-07
Movie The House Without a Name 1956-01-01
Movie The Proud Ones Marshal Cass Silver 1956-05-15
Movie Back from Eternity Bill Lonagan 1956-09-07
Movie Escape to Burma Jim Brecan 1955-04-09
Movie Bad Day at Black Rock Reno Smith 1955-01-13
Movie House of Bamboo Sandy Dawson 1955-07-01
Movie The Tall Men Nathan Stark 1955-09-22
Movie About Mrs. Leslie George Leslie 1954-08-03
Movie City Beneath the Sea Brad Carlton 1953-03-11
Movie The Naked Spur Ben Vandergroat 1953-01-30
Movie Inferno Donald Whitley Carson III 1953-08-12
Movie Horizons West Dan Hammond 1952-10-11
Movie Hard, Fast and Beautiful Seabright Tennis Match Spectator (uncredited) 1951-05-23
Movie Flying Leathernecks Capt. Carl 'Griff' Griffin 1951-08-28
Movie The Racket Nick Scanlon 1951-10-25
Movie The Secret Fury David McLean 1950-02-21
Movie Born to Be Bad Nick Bradley 1950-09-28
Movie Slightly French Carnival Barker (uncredited) 1949-02-02
Movie The Boy with Green Hair Dr. Evans 1948-11-26
Movie Crossfire Montgomery 1947-08-15
Movie Tender Comrade Chris Jones 1944-05-30
Movie Bombardier Joe Connors 1943-05-14
Movie Gangway for Tomorrow Joe Dunham 1943-11-03
Movie The Ghost Breakers Intern (uncredited) 1940-06-21
Movie Queen of the Mob Jim 1940-06-28
Movie North West Mounted Police Constable Dumont 1940-10-22
Movie Golden Gloves Pete Wells 1940-08-02
Movie The Toilers 1928-10-01
Movie The College Widow Jack Larrbee 1927-10-15
Movie Womanpower Sands 1926-09-19