Ray Teal

Active - 1938 - 1974  |   Born - Jan 12, 1902 in Grand Rapids, Michigan  |   Died - Apr 2, 1976   |   Genres - Western, Drama, Action

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Possessor of one of the meanest faces in the movies, American actor Ray Teal spent much of his film career heading lynch mobs, recruiting for hate organizations and decimating Indians. Naturally, anyone this nasty in films would have to conversely be a pleasant, affable fellow in real life, and so it was with Teal. Working his way through college as a saxophone player, Teal became a bandleader upon graduation, remaining in the musical world until 1936. In 1938, Teal was hired to act in the low-budget Western Jamboree, and though he played a variety of bit parts as cops, taxi drivers and mashers, he seemed more at home in Westerns. Teal found it hard to shake his bigoted badman image even in A-pictures; as one of the American jurists in Judgment at Nuremberg (1961), he is the only member of Spencer Tracy's staff that feels that sympathy should be afforded Nazi war criminals -- and the only one on the staff who openly dislikes American liberals. A more benign role came Teal's way on the '60s TV series Bonanza, where he played the sometimes ineffectual but basically decent Sheriff Coffee. Ray Teal retired from films shortly after going through his standard redneck paces in The Liberation of LB Jones (1970).

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