William Devane

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William Devane
William Devane 1974.JPG
Devane in The Missiles of October (1974)
Born William Joseph Devane
(1937-09-05) September 5, 1937 (age 78)
Albany, New York, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1967–present
Spouse(s) Eugenie Devane (1961–present; 2 children)

William Joseph Devane (born September 5, 1937) is an American film, television and theatre actor, perhaps best known for his role as Greg Sumner on the primetime soap opera Knots Landing (1983–1993) [1] and as James Heller on the serial drama 24 (2005–2007, 2014). He is also known for his supporting roles in films such as McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971), Marathon Man (1976), and Space Cowboys (2000).

Early life[edit]

Devane was born in Kankakee, Illinois in 1937 (some sources say 1939 or 1940), the son of Joseph (Joe) Devane, who had been Franklin D. Roosevelt's chauffeur when he was Governor of New York.[2] His father was of Irish descent and his mother had Dutch and German ancestry.[3] Devane graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York.


Devane (bottom) with Michael Brandon (top) in a publicity photo for Red Alert, 1977

In 1966, Devane portrayed Robert F. Kennedy in the Off-Broadway spoof MacBird. He gained acclaim for his role as President John F. Kennedy in a TV movie about the Cuban Missile Crisis, The Missiles of October (1974), and again when he played blacklisted radio personality John Henry Faulk in the Emmy Award-winning TV movie, Fear on Trial (1975). He is widely known for his ten years as the villainous Greg Sumner on Knots Landing.

In 1994, Devane appeared as Al Capone in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman in an episode entitled "That Old Gang of Mine". He also had a recurring role on the CBS show Early Edition (1996–2000) as lead character's father.

Devane appeared in the films McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971) with Julie Christie and Warren Beatty; Lady Liberty (1971) with Sophia Loren; Family Plot (1976) directed by Alfred Hitchcock; Marathon Man (1976) with Dustin Hoffman and Laurence Olivier; Rolling Thunder (1977) with Tommy Lee Jones; Red Alert (1977) with Ralph Waite, based on a novel by Harold R. "Hal" King; The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training (1977) with Jackie Earle Haley; Yanks (1979) with Richard Gere; Testament (1983) with Jane Alexander; Timestalkers (1987) with Lauren Hutton and Klaus Kinski; Forgotten Sins (1996) with John Shea; Exception to the Rule (1997), with Kim Cattrall and Sean Young; Payback (1999) with Mel Gibson; Hollow Man (2000), with Elisabeth Shue and Kevin Bacon; and Space Cowboys (2000) with Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, James Garner, and Donald Sutherland.

Devane has played members of the Presidential Cabinet on two evening dramas. In 2004, on The West Wing, he guest-starred as the Secretary of State and potential Vice-Presidential nominee. In Season 4 (2005), he joined the cast of 24 as Secretary of Defense James Heller. He also "Special Guest Starred" as Heller in season 5 & 6. On The West Wing, Devane appeared in several scenes with Martin Sheen; they also appeared together as President John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert F. Kennedy, respectively, 30 years earlier in The Missiles of October (1974).

Later career[edit]

Devane on the set of Stargate SG-1, August 2003

In 2004, Devane starred in three episodes of Stargate SG-1 (3 episodes), as President Henry Hayes and appears in the direct-to-DVD movie Stargate: Continuum. He also starred in the short-lived sitcom Crumbs and as Brian's real estate broker father in What About Brian (2006–07). In 2008, he starred in Russ Emanuel's "Chasing the Green" alongside Jeremy London, Ryan Hurst, and Robert Picardo. He also appears in the Jesse Stone mystery movies with Tom Selleck. In 2010, he appeared in NCIS: "Worst Nightmare" as the grandfather-who-is-not-what-he-appears-to-be of a child kidnapped from Marine Corps Base Quantico.

In 2012, Devane began a recurring role as Grandpa Edward Grayson on the ABC primetime soap opera Revenge.[4] Devane also played the President of the United States in the Christopher Nolan film The Dark Knight Rises.

Devane reprised his role as James Heller, now President, in the limited-run series 24: Live Another Day, which premiered in May 2014.

Devane is now part of the regular cast of the sitcom The Grinder.

Personal life[edit]

Devane married Eugenie Devane in 1961. They have two children.



Year Title Role Notes
1967 In the Country
1971 The Pursuit of Happiness Pilot
The 300 Year Weekend Tom
McCabe & Mrs. Miller Clement Samuels, Esq
My Old Man's Place Jimmy Pilgrim
La mortadella Jock Fenner
1972 Irish Whiskey Rebellion Lieutenant Ashley
1975 Report to the Commissioner Asst. D.A. Jackson
1976 Family Plot Arthur Adamson / Edward Shoebridge
Marathon Man Peter Janeway
1977 The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training Mike Leak
Rolling Thunder Major Charles Rane
1979 The Dark Roy Warner
Yanks Captain John
1981 Honky Tonk Freeway Mayor Kirby T. Calo
1983 Testament Tom Wetherly
1987 Hadley's Rebellion Coach Ball
1990 Vital Signs Dr. Chatham
1992 Obsessed Ed Bledsoe
1994 Lady in Waiting (aka Hollywood Madam Lt. Barrett
1997 Exception to the Rule Lawrence Kellerman
1999 Payback Carter
2000 The Man Who Used To Be Me Sam
Poor White Trash Ron Lake
Space Cowboys Eugene "Gene" Davis
Hollow Man Dr. Howard Kramer
2001 Race to Space Roger Thornhill
2002 The Badge The Judge
Threat of Exposure Col. Weldon
2003 The Wind Effect LT Porter
Monte Walsh Cal Brennan
2008 The Fall Judge Stanley Seeban
2009 The Least Among You Alan Beckett
Chasing the Green Victor Gatling
2010 The River Why Dutch Hines
The Kane Files: Life of Trial Thompson
2011 Flag of My Father Jake
2012 Red Clover Pop O'Hara
The Dark Knight Rises The President
2013 Bad Turn Worse Big Red
2014 50 to 1 Leonard Doc Blach
Interstellar Williams



External links[edit]