After serving in World War Two he began acting, training at the Dramatic Workshop of the American Theater Wing and at the Actors Studio. He performed off-Broadway and in live TV drama; in 1955 he appeared to much acclaim in Broadway's Bus Stop. He began appearing in films in 1958, going on to a sporadic but intermittently busy screen career; he often played cowpokes and "good ol' boys." Meanwhile, most of his work was done on TV. From 1956-63 he was married to actress Peggy Ann Garner. In 1990 he was found dead next to the body of his estranged wife; a police investigation suggested that he had killed his wife and then himself.