Long before there was a Hollywood, William Desmond was well known in Los Angeles theatrical circles. Desmond spent five years appearing with the west-coast Morosco Stock Company, the Burbank Theatre, and the Los Angeles Opera House. With his own stock company, he toured Australia and Canada. Desmond's theatrical credits included Ben Hur, Bird of Paradise, Alias Jimmy Valentine, If I Were King, Raffles, Sign of the Cross, and Romeo and Juliet; he also appeared in dramatic sketches in vaudeville. He made his film debut opposite Billie Burke in 1915's Peggy. Desmond later became a popular action star in films; he did his own stunts, and hardly a week went by in the 1920s that Desmond didn't give the newspapers a story about how he'd once again cheated death in the line of duty. In talkies, Desmond showed up in supporting roles in bits, chiefly in westerns, at Universal studios. William Desmond was the husband of former William S. Hart leading lady Mary McIvor, whom he outlived by eight years.