R.I.P. Mitchell Ryan, character actor in everything from Dark Shadows to Lethal Weapon

He appeared in Clint Eastwood movies and starred in the sitcom Dharma & Greg.

The Everett Collection

His name may not be instantly recognizable but his face is no doubt familiar to many TV and movie fans. Mitchell Ryan won his first screen role in the late 1950s and continued to work for the next six decades. He often played military commanders, judges and stern fathers. 

Ryan was born January 11, 1934 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Raised mostly in Louisville, Kentucky, Ryan served in the entertainment unit of the special services during the Korean War. He found work on stage before getting a small role in the 1958 Robert Mitchell crime film Thunder Road. Ryan then appeared in the shows like BrennerNaked City and The Defenders

His first recurring part came in 107 episodes of the spooky daytime drama Dark Shadows. He appeared in the TV Western The High Chaparral then costarred with Lee Marvin in the cowboy movie Monte Walsh. Even though Ryan’s character in the film was an accomplished bronco rider, Ryan had no real-life horse experience. According to The Hollywood Reporter, his nickname on set was “The Lincoln Center Kid.”

Ryan also appeared in Seventies flicks Chandler, A Reflection of Fear, Electra Glide in Blue and The Friends of Eddie Coyle – reuniting with Robert Mitchum. He also appeared alongside Clint Eastwood in High Plains Drifter and Magnum Force

On television, Ryan spent the Seventies in shows like Cannon, Barnaby Jones and The Rockford Files. He led a variety of short-lived shows: the unconventional police procedural Chase, the corporate drama Executive Suite and the medical series Having Babies.

Ryan appeared in Eighties shows like Hart to Hart, Dallas and The A-Team before playing his memorable role as retired Army general-turned-drug smuggler Peter McAllister in Lethal Weapon. Ryan nearly played Captain Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation before producers chose Patrick Stewart. Ryan did get a chance to be on the show later, though, playing Riker’s father in the episode “The Icarus Factor.”

In the early 1990s, Ryan played characters in The Golden Girls, Matlock and L.A. Law. He then guest-starred as Jonathan Clayton in a three-part Wings storyline. On the big screen, Ryan appeared in all kinds of Nineties movies from Blue Sky to Judge Dredd to Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers

In 1997, Ryan began playing Edward Montgomery, the conservative father of Thomas Gibson’s Greg, in the sitcom Dharma & Greg. The show ran for five seasons with Ryan appearing in over 100 episodes.

Ryan published a memoir in 2021 called Fall of a Sparrow about his long career in showbusiness. He was 88. 

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RobertM 27 months ago
He also appeared on "Murder, She Wrote".
Kahuna 27 months ago
He also played Frank Smith on General Hospital
Mike 27 months ago
Mitchell Ryan cold do anything.
After years as the toughest guy in town, watching him ace deadpan comedy on Dharma And Greg was his triumph.
Don't miss the wedding renewal episode, where he stops the show by singing "Ain't That A Kick In The Head!"
DIGGER1 27 months ago
Mitchell Ryan was also in an episode of "STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION", in which he played Kyle Riker, Will's estranged father, and a former love interest of Dr. Katherine Pulaski's(Diane Muldaur).

He was also in the 1985 miniseries, "NORTH & SOUTH", where he portrayed Tillet Main, the patriarch of the "Main" family.

And, I just learned from his IMDb bio that he was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and raised in Louisville, Kentucky which just happens to be "MY" birthstate(KY., not OH.). LOL!

R.I.P., MITCHELL RYAN, B.01/11/1934-D.03/04/2022.

Runeshaper 27 months ago
R.I.P. Mitchell Ryan. Definitely have seen him in a TON of movies and TV shows.
cperrynaples 27 months ago
GET A PROOFREADER! You wrote Robert Mitchell when you meant Mitchum!
nd1irish cperrynaples 27 months ago
Lighten up Francis.
Peter_Falk_Fan 28 months ago
Mitchell Ryan was good as Tillet Main in one of my favorite mini-series, "North & South". He was good in lots of shows, especially one of my favorites as a kid, "Dark Shadows".

R.I.P. Mitchell Ryan
Zip 28 months ago
Ah yes, I remember his face, and his voice, especially as Commander Riker's father on Star Trek:TNG and on High Plains Drifter, one weird but cool movie where he played one of the businessmen of the town who really doesn't like Clint Eastwood's character(one of many who didn't), especially after the businessman's wife was accosted by(and then took a shine to) "The Stranger".

He played intimidating and authority-figure types very well.
MrsPhilHarris 28 months ago
Recognized him instantly. He was everywhere.
Sway 28 months ago
Great Actor, he was all over TV. Remember him in Dark Shadows, All My Children, Star Trek TNG, Golden Girls, and lots of others shows. RIP Mitchell Ryan.
BrittReid 28 months ago
Great actor in all his work. 'Charlie McCoy' in Magnum Force. R.I.P. Mr. Ryan
eugenebelvinandmoosefan8 28 months ago
Mitchell Ryan was great playing
Burke Devlin 1 on Dark Shadows.
Anthony George was Burke Devlin 2.

I'm also a fan of Happy Days
Characters Moose Barry Greenberg and BAG(Neil J Schwartz) on Happy Days.
I enjoyed watching the epilogue
Of the Happy Days Episode
Guess Who'sComing To Visit
where Moose was dancing with
a cute girl(Carey Williams) in
Arnold's Drive In
Whoever put that clip with
Moose dancing I would like to
THANK. MOOSE should have been in more Happy Days Episodes than 3 Episodes ONLY.
It's too bad that Moose never got to talk on Happy Days.
Bag ZOMBROSKI (Neil J Schwartz) should have been on
Happy Days for more than 9 Episodes Only . Bag and Ralph Malph Donny Most and Bobby
MELNER Harris KAL were all great practical Jokes on Happy Days.CHUCK CUNNINGHAM 2 Randolph Roberts should have
Stayed on Happy Days for all 11
Seasons (except season one when Gavan O Herlihy played
Chuck Cunningham 1).
I also liked Roger Phillips Ted McGinley and Eugene Belvin Denis Mandel and Melvin Belvin Scott Bernstein and Spike Danny
Butch on Happy Days.
Also on Dark Shadows Burke
Devlin enjoyed causing trouble
for Roger Collins (Louis Edmunds). Later when Anthony
George played Burke Devlin he
continued to cause trouble for
the Collins family and he became Victoria Winters Alexandra Moltke boyfriend.
Later Vicky Winters traveled back to the past and fell in
Love with Peter Bradford(Roger
Davis). When Victoria Winters
returned to the present she h
Fell in love with Jeff Clark (Also
Played by Roger Davis.
Also Jonathan Frid did an excellent job of playing Barnabas Collins and John
Karli. Was great as Willie Loomis.
I wonder if actress Carey Williams from season one of
Happy Days who danced with
MOOSE (Barry Greenberg) Is
Related to Carol Williams who played Marilee on Happy Days
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