Robert Ryan was an American actor. He is perhaps best remembered for noir roles, though he also starred in war movies.
Born in Chicago in 1909, Ryan entered show business as a playwright but found greater success in acting roles that he took to support himself. He appeared in a few movie during the early 1940s and, after a short bout in the Marines, received his big break in 1947′s Crossfire. His depiction of the anti-Semitic murderer Montgomery would earn him an Oscar nomination (Best Supporting Actor).
Ryan went on to play villains in other movies, but also became known for tough but emotional heroes, like boxer Bill “Stoker” Thompson in The Set-Up (1949) and grizzled cop Jim Wilson in On Dangerous Ground (1951). He also had parts in The Naked Spur (1953), House of Bamboo and Bad Day at Black Rock (both 1955).
A civil rights activist and pacifist after marrying his Quaker wife Jessica, Ryan noted the disparity between his personal beliefs and the films he starred in. This probably explains his role in Odds Against Tomorrow, the first noir film with a black protagonist. You thought this was good? Brace yourself: Born to Be Bad (1950)