Childhood & Early Life
Royal Dano was born on November 16, 1922 to Mary Josephine and Caleb Edward Dano. His mother was of Irish descent. His father worked in the printing department of a newspaper.
Royal Dano ran away from home at the age of 12 and kept shuffling between California, Florida, and Texas until he was finally found. He returned home with his father and agreed to continue his education on the condition that he would be allowed to travel.
After graduating from high school, he enrolled in the ‘New York University’. He then went on to serve the US army during World War II and was promoted to the rank of sergeant.
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Royal Dano started his acting career with a minor role in the hit Broadway musical ‘Finian's Rainbow’. His performance earned him a ‘Promising Actor’ nomination by the New York Critics Circle in 1949.
He made his movie debut with a minor role in ‘Undercover Girl’ in 1950. In 1951, the theatrical production of ‘The Red Badge of Courage’ saw him in the role of a ‘tattered soldier’. His death scene in the play left the audience aghast, which led to the scene being removed from the final play.
Dano played the role of Abraham Lincoln in the five-part TV episode ‘Mr. Lincoln’ from 1952 to 1953. In 1955 came Alfred Hitchcock’s black comedy ‘The Trouble with Harry,’ in which he played the minor role of a deputy sheriff.
The movie ‘Moby Dick’, which released in 1956, had him essay the role of Elijah, which went on to become one of his most noted performances.
Dano was seen as the meek and timid Wilbur English in the NBC TV series ‘The Restless Gun’ in 1957.
He made a guest appearance on David McLean-starrer TV series ‘Tate’ in 1960. He was also seen playing the role of ‘Lucas Frome’ in the episode titled ‘Black Harvest’ on the show ‘Johnny Ringo’.
In 1961, he made an appearance in the film ‘King of Kings’ as the character named Simon Peter. In the same year, he was cast as Sageman in an episode of ‘Father Knows Best’.
Dano was seen portraying multiple characters on the series ‘The Virginian’ from 1962 to 1966. Among them, his most popular character was ‘Faraway MacPhail’.
He made recurrent appearances on TV shows, such as ‘The Rifleman’ and ‘Gunsmoke’. He was then seen as the prospector Monty Fox in an episode of the CBS show ‘Rawhide’.
His big release came in 1964 when his role of a ruthless henchman in the film ‘The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao’ was highly acclaimed. In the same year, he also lent his voice to the character of Abraham Lincoln in Walt Disney's stage show ‘Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln’, which first released at the World's Fair in 1964. A year later, the stage show became a part of Disneyland and Dano’s voice was used until 2001. It was then re-added in 2009 in the new version of the show.
In the 1973 film ‘Electra Glide in Blue’, Dano played the role of the coroner who gets into a yelling match with Robert Blake's character.
In the TV film ‘The Last Ride of the Dalton Gang’, which released in 1979, he played the father of the Daltons. The 1983 historical drama film ‘The Right Stuff’ saw him portray the role of a melancholic preacher.
Dano played the comic role of a gold prospector named Gramps in the horror comedy film ‘House II: The Second Story’ (1987). In the following year, he adorned yet another comical character for the film ‘Ghoulies II’, wherein he played the role of Uncle Ned.
Some of his last appearances were in the science fiction comedy film ‘Spaced Invaders’ as Wrenchmuller and the TV series ‘Twin Peaks’, in which he played Judge Clinton Sternwood. His last credited role was in the 1993 movie ‘The Dark Half’.
Family & Personal Life
Royal Dano was married to Peggy Ranck. The couple had two children. His son Royal Dano Jr. and grandson Hutch Dano also pursued acting careers.
Dano suffered a heart attack after meeting with a car accident, and on May 15th, 1994, he passed away at the age of 71. His mortal remains are laid to rest in the Los Angeles National Cemetery.