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Subject: ARCHIVE: July 30, 1980 ~Charles McGraw veteran Hollywood character actor, best known for his countless tough-guy roles in film noir like 1946's "The Killers", and even occasional comedy like "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World: (1963), dies in home accident when he slips and falls through bathroom shower door, bleeding to death, at 66. ...

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Date Posted: Tuesday, July 31, 11:45:17am

Charles McGraw, veteran Hollywood character player,
best known for his countless tough-guy roles on big & small screen.

Charles McGraw
[ Charles Butters ]
(May 10, 1914 July 30, 1980)

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, Ohio, 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.


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 at Fox. He was in Tonight We Raid Calais (1942) and They Came to Blow Up America (1943) at the same studio, and also Two Tickets to London (1943), Destroyer (1943), Corvette K-225 (1943), The Mad Ghoul (1943), The Impostor (1944), and The Seventh Cross (1944). 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 was unbilled in The Farmer's Daughter (1947) and Brute Force (1947) and had small roles in The Big Fix (1947) and The Long Night (1947). He had slightly bigger parts in On the Old Spanish Trail (1947), a Roy Rogers Western, and some noirs, Roses Are Red (1947) and The Gangster (1947). McGraw's parts remained small in T-Men (1947) for Anthony Mann, The Hunted (1948), Berlin Express (1948), Hazard (1948), and Blood on the Moon (1948). He had a bigger role in Once More, My Darling (1949), then went back to small parts in Reign of Terror (1949) and Border Incident (1949) for Mann, and The Story of Molly X (1949).

...McGraw moved up to third billing in the noir The Threat (1949). He played a cop in Side Street (1950) for Mann and a gangster in Ma and Pa Kettle Go to Town (1951).

Leading Man
McGraw was finally given a leading role in RKO's Armored Car Robbery (1950) directed by Richard Fleischer. He played a gangster in His Kind of Woman (1951), then had the lead in Roadblock (1951) as "Honest Joe," the insurance investigator turned thief by love. Fleischer used McGraw in the lead of The Narrow Margin (1952), which has become a cult classic. He was a sergeant in One Minute to Zero (1952) and War Paint (1953) and was a villain in Thunder Over the Plains (1954).

...McGraw's other notable roles were as Kirk Douglas's gladiator trainer in the
epic "Spartacus" (1960) and as Robert Blake's abusive father in 1965's "In Cold Blood". ...

By the early 1960s, McGraw was also appearing in thrillers like Hitchcock's "The Birds",
and even the ensemble comedy farce like "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World".

McGraw starred as Mike Waring, the title character, in the 39-episode 195455 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. Additionally, he had the role of Captain Hughes in The Smith Family. In 1963, McGraw played Dr. Simon Oliver in the pilot of Diagnosis: Danger, a medical drama.

He later had 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's 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, CA. home
on July 30, 1980, 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. In 2012, a biography,
"Charles McGraw: Film Noir Tough Guy" by Alan K. Rode, was published chronicling the actor's life and career.

Honors and awards
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.


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I wonder if alcohol had something to do with his crashing through shower glass door? -I remember comedienne Cass Daley, 60, as another who bled to death, alone in her home when she crashed through a coffee table glass. ...Often wondering if booze was to blamewith her, too?Saturday, August 04, 01:52:47am
Of course, the most famous case I of someone bleeding to death after a fall would be William Holden, who hit his head on a coffee table after falling down drunk, but got up from the fall, sat down, and bled to death--too drunk to realize how badly hurt he wasHis death was immortalized in "Tom's diner"Saturday, August 04, 05:55:36am

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