Actor. An imposing character player, he was often cast as a corrupt or misguided authority figure. He won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as 'Boss Finley' in the film "Sweet Bird of Youth" (1962). Born in Hartford, Connecticut, the son of Irish immigrants, he ran away from home at age 11, and after a series of odd jobs he served in the United States Navy for four years. Making his show business debut in 1931 as a radio actor and announcer, he first appeared on Broadway in 1943 and gained prominence in Arthur Miller's play "All My Sons" (1947). Begley's greatest stage success was in the Jerome Lawrence-Robert E. Lee drama "Inherit the Wind" (1955), a fictionalized account of the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial. He created the role of 'Matthew Harrison Brady' (based on William Jennings Bryan) and won a Tony Award for his performance. The following year, when star Paul Muni left the show, Begley took over Muni's opposing part as Henry Drummond with equal acclaim. In motion pictures he usually played villians. "Patterns" (1956) offered him a memorable sympathetic role as a kind-hearted executive destroyed by a ruthless corporate world, and in "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" (1964) he showed an unexpected flair for musical comedy. Begley's other screen credits include "Boomerang" (1947), "Sitting Pretty" (1948), "Sorry, Wrong Number" (1948), "On Dangerous Ground" (1951), "12 Angry Men" (1957), "Odds Against Tomorrow" (1959), "Hang 'Em High" (1968), "Wild in the Streets" (1968), and "The Dunwich Horror" (1970). In all Begley appeared in thousands of radio broadcasts, 250 television shows, 35 films, and a dozen Broadway plays. He died of a heart attack. His son is actor Ed Begley, Jr.
Bio by: Bobb Edwards