Actor William Gargan began his career in 1924, shortly after leaving high school, and made it to Broadway within a year. In 1932 he won great acclaim for his work in the play The Animal Kingdom, leading to an invitation from Hollywood where he made his film debut in 1932. During the '30s he played high-energy, gregarious leads in many "B"-movies and second leads in major films; later he moved into character roles. For his work in They Knew What They Wanted (1940), he received a "Best Supporting Actor" Oscar nomination. He made few films after 1948, but from 1949 to 1951 he starred in the title role of the TV series Martin Kane, Private Eye then reprised the role in 1957 in The New Adventures of Martin Kane. He was stricken by cancer of the larynx, and in 1960 his voice box was removed in surgery, ending his career. He learned esophageal speech then taught this method for the American Cancer Society; the same group enlisted him as an anti-smoking campaigner. Two years after losing his speech, he gave his final performance, portraying a mute clown on TV in King of Diamonds. He authored an autobiography, Why Me? (1969), recounting his struggle with cancer. His brother was actor Edward Gargan.
photo credit: Warner Brothers
by Rovi biography