Robert Ryan

Robert Ryan

Infobox actor
bgcolour = Silver
name = Robert Ryan

imagesize =
birthname = Robert Bushnell Ryan
birthdate = November 11, 1909
location = Chicago, Illinois
deathdate = death date and age|1973|7|11|1909|11|11
deathplace = New York City
spouse = Jessica Cadwalader (m. March 11, 1939–1972) (her death); 3 children
awards = KCFCC Award Best Supporting Actor 1973 "The Iceman Cometh"

Robert Ryan (November 11, 1909 – July 11, 1973) was an Academy Award and BAFTA award-nominated American actor born in Chicago, Illinois. He often played hardened cops and ruthless villains.

Robert Bushnell Ryan was born in Chicago, Illinois to Timothy Ryan and his wife Mabel Bushnell Ryan. Robert Ryan was an only child. 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 breakout film role was as an anti-Semitic killer in "Crossfire" (1947), a film noir based on Brooks's novel. From then on, Ryan's specialty was tough/tender roles, finding particular expression in the films of celebrated 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). He also played John the Baptist in MGM's 1961 Technicolor epic "King of Kings".

In his later years, Ryan continued playing key roles in major films. Most notable of these were "The Dirty Dozen", "The Professionals" and Sam Peckinpah's highly influential brutal western "The Wild Bunch".

Ryan appeared several times on the Broadway stage. His credits there credits include "Clash by Night", "Mr. President" and "The Front Page".


In contrast to the often violent,bigoted roles he played,Ryan was a liberal Democrat who tirelessly supported civil rights issues. Despite his military service, he also came to share the pacifist views of his wife Jessica, who was a Quaker.

In the late 1940s, as the House Committee on Unamerican Activities (HUAC) intensified its anti-communist attacks on Hollywood, he joined the short-lived Committee for the First Amendment. Throughout the 1950s, he donated money and services to civic and religious organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union, American Friends Service Committee, and United World Federalists. In September 1959, he and Steve Allen became founding co-chairs of The Committee for a SANE Nuclear Policy's Hollywood chapter.

By the mid-1960s, Ryan's political activities included efforts to fight racial discrimination. He served in the cultural division of the Committee to Defend Martin Luther King and, with Bill Cosby, Robert Culp, Sidney Poitier, and other actors, helped organize the short-lived Artists Help All Blacks.fact|date=December 2007

Ryan's film work often ran counter to the political causes he embraced. He was a pacifist who starred in war movies, westerns, and violent thrillers. He was an opponent of McCarthyism who nevertheless served the anticommunist cause by playing a nefarious Communist agent in "I Married a Communist". Even in films like "Crossfire" and "Odds Against Tomorrow", which ultimately promoted racial tolerance, he played bigoted bad guys. Ryan was often vocal about this dichotomy. At a screening of "Odds Against Tomorrow", he appeared before black and foreign press representatives to discuss "the problems of an actor like me playing the kind of character that in real life he finds totally despicable." [Philip K. Scheuer, "Los Angeles Times," 1 Oct. 1959, B13.]

Personal life

On March 11, 1939, he married Jessica Cadwalader. They had two sons, Cheyney (now a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Oregon) and Timothy "Tim" Ryan, and one daughter, Lisa Ryan. Robert and Jessica Ryan remained married until her death from cancer in 1972. He died from lung cancer in New York City the following year, aged 63.

Jupiter's Father-in-Law

In 1995, Robert Ryan returned to the screen posthumously in the award-winning documentary, "Jupiter's Wife". In the film, Maggie Cogan (a homeless inhabitant of Central Park) claims to be the daughter of Robert Ryan as well as the wife of Jupiter. The film won a Special Recognition award and was nominated for a Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival that year. The film also tied for Best Documentary Feature at the Vancouver International Film Festival.

elected filmography

*"Golden Gloves" (1940)
*"Bombardier" (1943)
*"Tender Comrade" (1943)
*"Woman on the Beach" (1947)
*"Crossfire" (1947)
*"Berlin Express" (1948)
*"The Boy with Green Hair" (1948)
*"Act of Violence" (1948)
*"Caught" (1949)
*"I Married a Communist" (1949)
*"The Set-Up" (1949)
*"The Secret Fury" (1950)
*"Born to Be Bad" (1950)
*"The Racket" (1951)
*"Flying Leathernecks" (1951)
*"On Dangerous Ground" (1951)
*"Clash by Night" (1952)
*"Beware, My Lovely" (1952)
*"The Naked Spur" (1953)
*"Inferno" (1953)
*"Bad Day at Black Rock" (1955)
*"The Tall Men" (1955)
*"House of Bamboo" (1955)
*"Escape to Burma" (1955)
*"The Proud Ones" (1956)
*"Men in War" (1957)
*"God's Little Acre" (1958)
*"Lonelyhearts" (1958)
*"Day of the Outlaw" (1959)
*"Odds Against Tomorrow" (1959)
*"King of Kings" (1961)
*"The Longest Day" (1962)
*"Billy Budd" (1962)
*"Battle of the Bulge" (1965)
*"The Professionals" (1966)
*"The Dirty Dozen" (1967)
*"Hour of the Gun" (1967)
*" Custer of the West "(1968)
*"Captain Nemo and the Underwater City" (1969)
*"The Wild Bunch" (1969)
*"Lawman" (1971)
*"The Iceman Cometh" (1973) (as Larry Slade)
*"Executive Action" (1973)
*"The Lolly Madonna War" (1973)

ee also

*Film noir


External links

*imdb name|id=0752813|name=Robert Ryan
* [ Robert Ryan Tribute]
* [ The Robert Ryan Homepage]
* [ Jupiter's Wife on IMDB]

NAME= Ryan, Robert
ALTERNATIVE NAMES= Ryan, Robert Bushnell
DATE OF BIRTH= November 11, 1909
PLACE OF BIRTH= Chicago, Illinois
DATE OF DEATH= 1973-7-11

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