Charles McGraw: Actor (1914 - 1980) | Biography
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Charles McGraw

Charles McGraw

Charles McGraw
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro Actor
Was Actor Television actor
From United States of America
Field Film, TV, Stage & Radio
Gender male
Birth 10 May 1914, Des Moines
Death 30 July 1980, Studio City (aged 66 years)
The details (from wikipedia)


Charles Butters (May 10, 1914 – July 30, 1980), best known by his stage name Charles McGraw, was an American actor.

Early life

The son of Francis Butters and Beatrice Crisp Butters, McGraw was born in Des Moines, Iowa. (A newspaper article published in 1951 says of McGraw, "He was born in New York City, but his parents moved to Akron, O., when he was five years old.") In January 1932, he graduated from high school, later attending college for one semester.

His early jobs included working on a freighter and dancing in night clubs.

Before becoming an actor, he served a tour of duty in the United States Army during World War II.


The killers (Charles McGraw, William Conrad) in The Killers


Before getting into film, McGraw was active in theatrical road companies. He also appeared in "dozens of off-Broadway productions."


McGraw made his first film in 1942 with a small, uncredited role in The Undying Monster. He developed into a leading man, especially in the film noir genre during the late 1940s and early 1950s. His gravelly voice and rugged looks enhanced his appeal in that very stylistic genre.

His first notable role was in The Killers (1946), which opens with McGraw and fellow heavy William Conrad as the two hitmen who terrorize a small-town diner in their search for Burt Lancaster. McGraw's other notable roles include "Honest Joe", the insurance investigator turned thief by love in the noir classic Roadblock (1951); the gruff detective assigned to protect Marie Windsor in The Narrow Margin (1952); righteous cop Lt. Jim Cordell in Armored Car Robbery (1952); Kirk Douglas' gladiator trainer in the epic Spartacus (1960); and "The Preacher" in the science-fiction cult classic A Boy and His Dog.


McGraw starred as Mike Waring, the title character, in the 39-episode 1954–55 syndicated television series Adventures of the Falcon. The series updated the original Falcon premise to have Michael Waring as a secret agent in the Cold War. He also starred in the first television version of Casablanca (1955), taking Humphrey Bogart's role as Rick Blaine.:165 Additionally, he had the role of Captain Hughes in The Smith Family. In 1963, McGraw played Dr. Simon Oliver on the pilot of Diagnosis: Danger, a medical drama.:257

He later played various one-shot roles in television episodes such as the gruff and menacing sheriff in "The Gamble", an installment of the NBC western series Bonanza.

In 1960, McGraw played United States Army scout Tom Barrows in the episode "The Scout" on the ABC/Desilu western television series, The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, starring Hugh O'Brian. Though he has an Apache wife, Barrows is known for his attacks on Apache warriors. He is called "The Listener" because he cuts off and wears the ears of the Indians he has killed. The Indians retaliate by killing Barrows' wife. McGraw also appeared in an episode of The Untouchables titled "The Jake Lingle Killing". This was notable as a pre-Hawaii Five-O Jack Lord was the lead hero in the show instead of Ness. He also portrayed an unbalanced rear admiral in an episode of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea titled "The Sky is Falling."

Personal life

McGraw married Freda Choy Kitt in 1938. They had a daughter.


Charles McGraw died after slipping and falling through a glass shower door in his Studio City, California home on July 30, 1980 and severing an artery in his arm. (A newspaper article published in 1981 gave August 2 as the date of McGraw's death.) His ashes were scattered in the Pacific Ocean.


McGraw is recognized with a star in the Television section of the Hollywood Walk of Fame, located at 6927 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, Los Angeles, California. It was dedicated February 8, 1960.


  • The Undying Monster (1942) - Strud Strudwick (uncredited)
  • The Moon Is Down (1943) - Ole (uncredited)
  • Tonight We Raid Calais (1943) - German Corporal (uncredited)
  • They Came to Blow Up America (1943) - Zellerbach
  • Two Tickets to London (1943) - Hendrik (uncredited)
  • Mechanized Patrolling (1943) - Cpl. McGraw
  • Destroyer (1943) - Assistant Chief Engineer (uncredited)
  • Corvette K-225 (1943) - Chief Engineer (uncredited)
  • The Mad Ghoul (1943) - Garrity
  • The Impostor (1944) - Menessier
  • The Seventh Cross (1944) - Allbright (uncredited)
  • The Killers (1946) - Al
  • The Farmer's Daughter (1947) - Fisher - Finley's Henchman (uncredited)
  • The Big Fix (1947) - Armiston
  • The Long Night (1947) - Policeman Stevens
  • Brute Force (1947) - Andy (uncredited)
  • On the Old Spanish Trail (1947) - Harry Blaisdell
  • Roses Are Red (1947) - Duke Arno
  • The Gangster (1947) - Dugas
  • T-Men (1947) - Moxie
  • The Hunted (1948) - Detective
  • Berlin Express (1948) - USFET Col. Johns (uncredited)
  • Hazard (1948) - Chick
  • Blood on the Moon (1948) - Milo Sweet
  • Once More, My Darling (1949) - Herman Schmelz, Chauffeur
  • Reign of Terror (1949) - Sergeant
  • Border Incident (1949) - Jeff Amboy
  • The Story of Molly X (1949) - Police Capt. Breen
  • The Threat (1949) - Arnold 'Red' Kluger
  • Side Street (1949) - Det. Stan Simon
  • Ma and Pa Kettle Go to Town (1950) - Shotgun Mike Munger
  • I Was a Shoplifter (1950) - Detective
  • Armored Car Robbery (1950) - Lt. Jim Cordell
  • Double Crossbones (1951) - Capt. Ben Wickett
  • His Kind of Woman (1951) - Thompson / Narrator
  • Roadblock (1951) - Joe Peters
  • The Narrow Margin (1952) - Det. Sgt. Walter Brown
  • One Minute to Zero (1952) - Sfc. Baker
  • War Paint (1953) - Sgt. Clarke
  • Thunder Over the Plains (1953) - Ben Westman
  • Loophole (1954) - Gus Slavin
  • The Bridges at Toko-Ri (1955) - Cmdr. Wayne Lee
  • Away All Boats (1956) - Lieut. Mike O'Bannion
  • Toward the Unknown (1956) - Col. 'Mickey' McKee
  • The Cruel Tower (1956) - Harry 'Stretch' Clay
  • Joe Butterfly (1957) - Sgt. Jim McNulty
  • Slaughter on Tenth Avenue (1957) - Lt. Anthony Vosnick
  • Joe Dakota (1957) - Cal Moore
  • Saddle the Wind (1958) - Larry Venables
  • The Defiant Ones (1958) - Capt. Frank Gibbons
  • Twilight for the Gods (1958) - Yancy
  • The Man in the Net (1959) - Sheriff Steve Ritter
  • The Wonderful Country (1959) - Dr. Herbert J. Stovall
  • Spartacus (1960) - Marcellus
  • Cimarron (1960) - Bob Yountis
  • The Horizontal Lieutenant (1962) - Col. Charles Korotny
  • The Birds (1963) - Sebastian Sholes - Fisherman in Diner
  • It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) - Lt. Matthews
  • In Cold Blood (1967) - Fred Harwell
  • The Busy Body (1967) - Tex Smith
  • Hang 'Em High (1968) - Sheriff Ray Calhoun
  • Pendulum (1969) - Deputy Chief John P. Hildebrand
  • Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here (1969) - Sheriff Frank Wilson
  • Johnny Got His Gun (1971) - Mike Burkeman
  • Chandler (1971) - Bernie Oakman
  • The Night Stalker (1972) - Chief Masterson
  • A Boy and His Dog (1975) - Preacher
  • The Killer Inside Me (1976) - Howard Hendricks
  • Twilight's Last Gleaming (1977) - Air Force Gen. Peter Crane (final film role)

Cultural references

In late 2007 Alan K. Rode wrote a biography of McGraw, Charles McGraw: Biography of a Film Noir Tough Guy. The book provides a behind-the-scenes look and anecdotes about his life, including: his long marriage to a Eurasian woman, his World War II Army service, his film career, and the story of his death.

The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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