Childhood & Early Life
Dayton was born in 1946 in Newark, New Jersey. During the Vietnam War, He was enlisted in the US navy. He moved to Los Angeles After retiring from the navy, to pursue a career in acting.
Dayton’s journey to enter the mainstream was not smooth. It took him eight years to get his first paid acting job. Back then, Dayton had worked in a lot of free theater productions in New York. He appeared in 28 student films at 'New York University.'
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Dayton’s first screen appearance was as a breakdancer in the 1984 'Playboy Channel' collaborative movie 'Preppies.' Three years later, he made brief appearances in an episode of the 'CBS' sitcom 'Kate & Allie' and the TV movie 'At Mother's Request.'
In 1989, he had an uncredited role in the film 'Alien Space Avenger' and had single episode appearances in the 'NBC' sitcom 'Valerie's Family' and the series 'Adam-12.' The following year, Dayton made several brief appearances in a number of TV shows and the (1)'CBS' TV movie 'Return to Green Acres.'
The 1996 crime noir 'The Last Days of Frankie the Fly' marked Dayton’s debut as a screenplay writer. He also portrayed Vic, the sidekick of the character Michael Madsen’s character ‘Sal’ in the film. His next venture as a writer was the 1997 low-budget feature 'Executive Target.' Dayton also served as an associate producer to the film and added a comic-relief with his role as ‘Bela.’
Dayton played a relatively prominent role as ‘Roger Lapher’ in the 1997 disaster film 'Volcano.' In 1998, he was seen as ‘Chuck Bidally’ in two episodes of the 'ABC' crime drama 'Vengeance Unlimited.'
He portrayed his first real-life inspired character, ‘Aniello John "Neil" Dellacroce,’ the Italian-American gangster and underboss of the Gambino crime family, in the 2001 TV movie 'Boss of Bosses,' aired on 'TNT.'
Next, he appeared in the American-Bulgarian action film 'Derailed' (as Lars) and the sports drama 'Undisputed' (as Yank Lewis).
In 2004, Dayton got the opportunity to play his breakthrough (on television) role of Charles H. "Colorado Charlie" Utter, a deputy to Sheriff Bullock and companion of the folk hero of the American Old West Wild, ‘Bill Hickok,’ in the 'HBO' western 'Deadwood.' He essayed the role for 33 episodes till 2006 and later reprised the role in the 2019 TV movie version.
Unfortunately, 'Deadwood' was taken off air abruptly after the third season. The increasing budget was believed to be one of the reasons for the channel (HBO) to cancel the show. Subsequently, the fourth season was planned, but it never happened as the ensemble got busy with other projects, making it impossible to reunite.
Dayton’s subsequent television appearances were as ‘Ernie Dell’ in three episodes of the 'CBS' drama 'CSI: Las Vegas'(aka ‘CSI: Crime Scene Investigation’) and ‘Steady Freddie Lopez’ in nine episodes of the 'HBO' drama 'John from Cincinnati.'
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His next regular role (80 episodes) in a series was as ‘Chief Wayne Unser’ in the 'FX' crime tragedy 'Sons of Anarchy.' He was cast as ‘Jack’ in five episodes (2012) of the 'FX' fantasy drama 'The Booth At The End.' Marshall played a ticket keeper in 'The Devil's Carnival ' and the musical horror 'Alleluia! The Devil's Carnival.'
In 2016, Dayton was introduced as a guest-character, ‘Jeremiah Otto,’ in the season 2 of the 'AMC' post-apocalyptic horror drama 'Fear the Walking Dead'; the character became a regular one in the following season.
Dayton had a significant role in the 2016 horror flick 'Abattoir.' He was shown in the opening shot as a real estate reporter ‘Jebediah Crone’ who investigates a haunted house. The director of the film, Darren Lynn Bousman, had written the script keeping Dayton in mind, but his character had lesser screen time. The two had previously worked on ' Alleluia! The Devil's Carnival.'
In 2018, he appeared as ‘Lieutenant O'Shea’ in the 2018 crime drama 'City of Lies.'
Dayton lent his voice to ‘Archer’ in the 'FX' adult animated sitcom, in 2013, and the video game 'Left 4 Dead 2.'
Acting was never Dayton’s first career choice. He was a jazz musician and played saxophone for 15 years. He was also a prolific athlete. At one point in his life, he thought of becoming a horse trainer. Back then, he performed road gigs and played lounge music to make money.
While working as a musician, Dayton got a role in a small off-Broadway show.