William Devane

William Joseph Devane is an American film, television, and stage actor best known for Greg Sumner on the primetime soap opera Knots Landing (1983–1993) and James Heller on the Fox serial dramas 24 (2001–2010).


On September 5, 1939, Devane was born in Albany, New York, to Joseph Devane, Franklin D. Roosevelt's driver, when he was Governor of New York. His father was of Irish origin, and his mother was of Dutch and German background. William is a graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, a two-year performing arts school located in New York City. He started appearing on stage soon after he graduated from the Dramatic Arts Academy.

Before moving to New York, in his early life, there was a period when he worked as an apprentice electrician and was a worker at a construction site.

Acting Career

William Devane started his acting career soon after graduating from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. However, he previously acted in neighborhood theaters when he was attending high school classes in Albany. With a career spanning nearly 50 years and having played more than 45 unique roles, he has played numerous and varied types of characters, such as the tough guy archetype in films like Hollow Man (2000), the Alfred Hitchcock-directed Family Plot (1976), and Testament (1983).

He has also acted in many TV productions, including the Dallas spin-off primetime soap opera Knots Landing and the drama series 24. William appeared on Knots Landing from 1983 to 1993 as Greg Sumner. Above everything else, he is most well-known for his decade-long role as Greg Sumner on Knots Landing, where he played an ambitious senator and CEO. He appeared on the FOX show 24 from 2005 to 2007 and reprised his role as James Heller in the 24 mini-series, Live Another Day in 2014.

In the television movie The Missiles of October (1974), Devane played the role of United States President John F. Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis. In addition to looking like the former President, he had the unique ability to master Kennedy's Boston accent. The role bolstered his reputation and catapulted him to stardom. He has continued to act in various roles as a politician or President and has played a member of the Presidential Cabinet on two evening dramas.

On The West Wing (1999), the guest-starred as the Secretary of State and potential vice presidential nominee, while on 24 (2001), as the character James Heller, he was the Secretary of Defense. On the science fiction series Stargate SG-1 (1997), he played President Henry Hayes for three episodes and reprised his role in the direct to DVD movie Stargate: Continuum. Devane also played the President of the United States in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises (2012).


Soon after his star-making performance in The Missiles of October, Devane again gained critical acclaim for his portrayal of John Henry Faulk, a blacklisted radio host, in another TV movie, the Emmy Award-winning Fear on Trial (1975). He has also been fortunate enough to have appeared in two films that opened in the same weekend, Space Cowboys and Hollow Man. They were both theatrically released on August 6, 2000, giving William the chance to earn twice the money.

In addition to his primary roles, he has also appeared in Lady Liberty (1971), Marathon Man (1976), Rolling Thunder (1977), Yanks (1979), Timestalkers (1987), Forgotten Sins (1996), Exception to the Rule (1997), and Payback (1999). On television, he had a role on Lois & Clarke: The New Adventures of Superman (1994) as the infamous gangster Al Capone. He also had a recurring guest role as the lead character's father on the CBS show Early Edition (1996-2000).

In the later years of his career, from the 2000s and onwards, he continued to appear in movies and television. He appeared in ABC's What About Brian (2006-2007) and starred in the short-lived ABC sitcom Crumbs (2006). Devane had a guest role on the NCIS episode "Worst Nightmare." In 2012, he began playing the recurring role of Grandpa Edward Grayson on ABC's primetime soap opera Revenge (2011-2015). He has most recently been seen in the Christopher Nolan film Interstellar (2014) and was a cast member on the TV sitcom The Grinder (2015).

Personal Life

In 1961, Devane tied the knot with his wife Eugenie Devane, and they are still presently and happily married after more than 55 years in the entertainment industry. William and Eugenie had two children, the eldest of whom tragically died in an accident. Their remaining child, Joshua, also works in the entertainment industry and has had roles in several movies.

As a hobby, William Devane is an ardent polo player, and he has even won many awards. In his free time, he enjoys horseback riding and also loves to fly fishing. Business-wise, he owns a restaurant that specializes in Italian and New York cuisine. The restaurant was initially located in Indio, California, before expanding to Rancho Mirage, California. Devane is also a spokesman for Rosland Capital, a precious metal company, and stars in their commercials.

William Joseph Devane has had a very successful career in the American film, theater, and television industries with a prosperous and acclaimed career spanning decades. Due to his extensive work and achievements, critics and fans alike believe he is a celebrity worthy of admiration. Many of his fans agree that he is a good actor and hope to see him play more exciting and captivating roles on television and in movies. He can be relied on, and many producers call on him when they need a professional.

Last Modified: Aug 20, 2021

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