Charles McGraw

Charles Butters (May 10, 1914 July 30, 1980), best known by his stage name Charles McGraw, was an American actor.

Charles McGraw
Charles Butters

(1914-05-10)May 10, 1914
DiedJuly 30, 1980(1980-07-30) (aged 66)
Years active1942–1977
Freda Choy Kitt
(m. 1938; div. 1968)

Early life

The son of Francis Butters and Beatrice Crisp Butters, McGraw was born in Des Moines, Iowa.[1] (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.")[2] In January 1932, he graduated from high school, later attending college for one semester.[3]

His early jobs included working on a freighter and dancing in night clubs.[2]

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.[2] He also appeared in "dozens of off-Broadway productions."[4]


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.[5]

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 "The Preacher" in the science-fiction cult classic A Boy and His Dog.


McGraw starred as Mike Waring, the title character, in the 39-episode 1954–55 syndicated television series Adventures of the Falcon.[6][7] The series updated the original Falcon premise to have Michael Waring as a secret agent in the Cold War.[8] He also starred in the first television version of Casablanca (1955), taking Humphrey Bogart's role as Rick Blaine.[9]:165 Additionally, he had the role of Captain Hughes in The Smith Family.[9] In 1963, McGraw played Dr. Simon Oliver in the pilot of Diagnosis: Danger, a medical drama.[9]:257

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 trigger-happy rear admiral in an episode of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea titled "The Sky is Falling."[10]

Personal life

McGraw married Freda Choy Kitt in 1938.[3] They had a daughter.[2]


Charles McGraw died after slipping and falling through a glass shower door in his Studio City, California, home on July 30, 1980, severing an artery in his arm.[3] (A newspaper article published in 1981 gave August 2 as the date of McGraw's death.)[11] His ashes were scattered in the Pacific Ocean.

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.[12]



  1. Rode, Alan K. (2012). Charles McGraw: Biography of a Film Noir Tough Guy. McFarland & Company. p. 7. ISBN 978-0786471720.
  2. West, Alice Pardoe (May 20, 1951). "Behind the Scenes". The Ogden Standard-Examiner. p. 23.
  3. Longden, Tom. "Charles McGraw". The Des Moines Register. Retrieved December 29, 2017.
  4. "Charles McGraw Of 'Toki-Ri' Cast Has Lived Drama". Brooklyn Eagle. January 23, 1955. p. 29.
  5. Baxter, John (1970). The Gangster Film. New York: A. S. Barnes. p. 80. ASIN B007EUP0P4.
  6. "Adventures of The Falcon". Retrieved December 29, 2017.
  7. "The Falcon". The Thrilling Detective Web Site. Retrieved December 29, 2017.
  8. Erickson, Hal (1989). Syndicated Television: The First Forty Years, 1947-1987. McFarland & Company. p. 18. ISBN 978-0786411986.
  9. Terrace, Vincent (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010. McFarland & Company. p. 984. ISBN 978-0786464777.
  10. The Scout (March 1, 1960) on IMDb
  11. "World mourns losses of giants of the entertainment world". Kokomo Tribune. January 2, 1981. p. 3.
  12. "Charles McGraw". Hollywood Walk of Fame. Retrieved December 29, 2017.

July, 2018: Information for any interested party: Not listed in Mr. McGraw's Wikipedia Filmography is his credited role as a French soldier in the 1949 movie: 'The Black Book 1' (Eagle-Lion Films).

This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.