Born in South Carolina, George Grizzard was raised in Washington DC, then went back to his original corner of the world to study radio broadcasting at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Grizzard hoped to get into the production end of radio upon graduation, but instead landed a frustrating job with an advertising agency. He then switched his interests to acting; he'd already played a few roles in college productions, and thought he might as well get paid for his hobby. After a season's worth of stock, he got his first professional job at the Arena Stage in Washington. He moved to New York, studied at the Neighborhood Playhouse, and in 1954 received his Equity card while appearing in an off-Broadway production of School for Scandal. The same year, he was cast in the Broadway melodrama The Desperate Hours, earning the Variety Critics Poll's "Best Actor" award for his performance. Other long-running Broadway assignments followed, including The Happiest Millionaire and The Disenchanted.
Grizzard also made quite a few TV appearances during this period, both "live" and on film; he's the young Romeo who slips his girlfriend an all-too-powerful love potion in the 1960 Twilight Zone episode "The Chaser." In 1960, Grizzard made his first film appearance in From the Terrace; though his subsequent film work was sporadic, it was always high-profile, most notably his portrayal of the Nixonish Senator Van Ackerman in the 1962 Otto Preminger production Advise and Consent (this role launched Grizzard on a cinematic political career, embracing such "offices" as the Mayor in 1980's Seems Like Old Times and the U.S. President in 1982's Wrong Is Right). In 1961, Grizzard helped found the APA repertory in New York. He also spent a season with the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, where he starred in the rarely performed uncut version of Hamlet--his first-ever Shakespearean role. In 1976, Grizzard was Emmy-nominated for his portrayal of John Adams in PBS' The Adams Chronicles, and in 1980 he won the award for his work in the live network-cast The Oldest Living Graduate. In 1989, George Grizzard accepted his first regular TV-series role, playing unctuous morning-show news commentator Douglas Hayward in Studio 5-B.
Grizzard died at age 79 of complications from lung cancer, in October 2007.