Began acting at the age of 8, touring professionally with the Mae Desmond Theatre.
After serving as an intelligence officer in the Air Force in the late 1950s, studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London.
After college, shared an apartment with friend and aspiring actor Jon Voight in New York. They created a comedy act about two hillbillies named Harold and Henry Gibson (taken from the Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen).
Got his break with a performance on The Tonight Show.