Actor William Devane

William Joseph Devane (born September 5, 1939) is an American film, television and theatre actor, known for his role as Greg Sumner on the primetime soap opera Knots Landing (1983–1993) and as James Heller on the Fox serial dramas 24 (2001–2010) and 24: Live Another Day (2014). He is also known for his work in films such as Family Plot (1976), Marathon Man (1976), Rolling Thunder (1977), Payback (1999), and Space Cowboys (2000).

Early life

Devane was born in 1939 in Albany, New York, the son of Joseph Devane, who had been Franklin D. Roosevelt’s chauffeur when he was Governor of New York. His father was of Irish descent and his mother had Dutch and German ancestry. Devane graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City in 1962.


Devane began his acting career with the New York Shakespeare Festival where he performed in 15 plays. In 1966, Devane portrayed Robert F. Kennedy in the off-Broadway spoof MacBird. He gained acclaim for his role as President John F. Kennedy in a television docudrama about the Cuban Missile Crisis, The Missiles of October (1974), and again when he played blacklisted radio personality John Henry Faulk in the Emmy Award-winning TV movie Fear on Trial (1975). He is widely known for his ten years as the ambitious and hardnosed politician-turned-corporate titan Greg Sumner on Knots Landing.

In 1994, Devane appeared as Al Capone in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman in an episode entitled “That Old Gang of Mine”. He also had a recurring role on the CBS show Early Edition (1996–2000) as the lead character’s father. Devane appeared in the films McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971); Lady Liberty (1971); Family Plot (1976), directed by Alfred Hitchcock; Marathon Man (1976); Rolling Thunder (1977); Yanks (1979); Testament (1983) with Jane Alexander; Timestalkers (1987) with Lauren Hutton and Klaus Kinski; Forgotten Sins (1996) with John Shea; Exception to the Rule (1997); Payback (1999); Hollow Man and Space Cowboys (2000).

Devane has played members of the Presidential Cabinet on two evening dramas. In 2004, on The West Wing, he guest-starred as the Secretary of State and potential Vice-Presidential nominee. Devane appeared in several scenes with Martin Sheen; they also appeared together as President John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert, respectively, 30 years earlier in The Missiles of October (1974). In 2005, he joined the cast of 24 as Secretary of Defense James Heller for seasons 4, 5 and 6.

Later career

In 2004, Devane appeared in three episodes of Stargate SG-1 as President Henry Hayes and appears in the direct-to-DVD movie Stargate: Continuum. He also co- starred in the short-lived sitcom Crumbs and as Brian’s real estate broker father in What About Brian (2006–07). In 2008, he appeared in Russ Emanuel’s Chasing the Green alongside Jeremy London, Ryan Hurst, and Robert Picardo. He also appears as police officer turned psychologist Dr. Dix in the Jesse Stone mystery movies with Tom Selleck. In 2010, he appeared in the NCIS episode “Worst Nightmare” as a grandfather, who is not what he appears to be and is actually a former U.S. deep cover special operations agent, of a child kidnapped from Marine Corps Base Quantico.

In 2012, Devane began a recurring role as Grandpa Edward Grayson on the ABC primetime soap opera Revenge. Devane also played the President of the United States in the Christopher Nolan film The Dark Knight Rises. Devane reprised his role as James Heller, now President, in the limited-run series 24: Live Another Day, which premiered in May 2014.

Devane was also part of the regular cast of the sitcom The Grinder. He had a cameo role as Williams, as part of NASA, in the 2014 film Interstellar.

Devane is currently a spokesman for Rosland Capital.

Personal life

Devane married Eugenie Devane in 1961. They have two sons. One of his sons, Joshua Devane, is also an actor. The couple lost their oldest son, Bill Devane in a tragic accident leaving the couple with one son.



Year Title Role Notes
1967 In the Country Unknown
1969 Gunsmith of Williamsburg Narrator
1971 The Pursuit of Happiness Pilot
The 300 Year Weekend Tom
McCabe & Mrs. Miller Clement Samuels, Esq
My Old Man’s Place Jimmy Pilgrim
Lady Liberty Jock Fenner
1972 The Irish Whiskey Rebellion Lieutenant Ashley
1975 Report to the Commissioner Assistant District Attorney Jackson
1976 Family Plot Arthur Adamson / Edward Shoebridge
Marathon Man Commander Peter ‘Janey’ Janeway
1977 The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training Mike Leak
Rolling Thunder Major Charles Rane
1979 The Dark Roy Warner
Yanks Captain John
1981 Honky Tonk Freeway Mayor Kirby T. Calo
1981 Red Flag – The Ultimate Game Major Phil Clark
1983 Testament Tom Wetherly
1987 Hadley’s Rebellion Coach Ball
1987 Timestalkers Dr. Scott McKenzie
1990 Vital Signs Dr. Chatham
1992 Obsessed Ed Bledsoe
1994 Lady in Waiting (Alternate title: Hollywood Madam) Lieutenant Barrett
1997 Exception to the Rule Lawrence Kellerman
1999 Payback Carter
2000 The Man Who Used To Be Me Sam
Poor White Trash Ron Lake
Space Cowboys Eugene ‘Gene’ Davis
Hollow Man Dr. Howard Kramer
2001 Race to Space Roger Thornhill
2002 The Badge The Judge
Threat of Exposure Colonel Weldon
2003 The Wind Effect L.T. Porter
Monte Walsh Cal Brennan
2008 The Fall Judge Stanley Seeban
Stargate Continuum President Henry Hayes
2009 The Least Among You Alan Beckett
Chasing the Green Victor Gatling
2010 The River Why ‘Dutch’ Hines
The Kane Files: Life of Trial Thompson
2011 Flag of My Father Jake
2012 Red Clover Pops O’Hara
The Dark Knight Rises The President
2013 Bad Turn Worse ‘Big Red’
2014 50 to 1 Leonard ‘Doc’ Blach
Interstellar Williams


  • N.Y.P.D. (3 episodes, 1967–1969)
  • Medical Center (1 episode, 1970 “Ghetto Clinic”)
  • Young Dr. Kildare (1 episode, 1972)
  • Gunsmoke (1 episode, 1973)
  • The Bait (1973)
  • Mannix (1 episode, 1974)
  • Hawaii Five-O (1 episode, 1974)
  • The Missiles of October (TV Movie, 1974)
  • Fear on Trial (1975)
  • Red Alert (1977)
  • Black Beauty (1978)
  • From Here to Eternity (1979)
  • From Here to Eternity (11 episodes, 1980)
  • Red Flag: The Ultimate Game (1981)
  • The Other Victim (1981)
  • The Big Easy (unsold TV pilot, 1982)
  • Insight (1 episode, 1982)
  • Jane Doe (1983)
  • With Intent to Kill (1984)
  • Timestalkers (1987)
  • Murder C.O.D. (1990)
  • A Woman Named Jackie (1991)
  • Nightmare in Columbia County (aka Victim of Beauty, 1991)
  • Knots Landing (269 episodes, 1983–1993)
  • Phenom (21 episodes, 1993–1994)
  • Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (1 episode, 1994)
  • For the Love of Nancy (TV Movie, 1994)
  • Falling from the Sky: Flight 174 (TV Movie, 1995)
  • Virus (TV Movie, 1995)
  • Night Watch (TV Movie, 1995)
  • The Monroes (8 episodes, 1995)
  • Doomsday Rock (TV Movie, 1997)
  • Timecop (1 episode, 1997)
  • Knots Landing: Back to the Cul-de-Sac (1997)
  • Touched by an Angel (1 episode, 1997)
  • Turks (13 episodes, 1999)
  • Early Edition (5 episodes, 1997–1999)
  • The Michael Richards Show (7 episodes, 2000)
  • Judging Amy (1 episode, 2002)
  • The X-Files (1 episode, “The Truth” 2002)
  • A Christmas Visitor (2002, TV Movie)
  • The West Wing (2 episodes, 2003)
  • Stargate SG-1 (3 episodes, 2004)
  • Crumbs (13 episodes, 2006)
  • Jesse Stone: Death in Paradise (2006)
  • What About Brian (6 episodes, 2006–2007)
  • 24 (20 episodes, 2005–2007)
  • Jesse Stone: Sea Change (2007)
  • Jesse Stone: Thin Ice (2009)
  • Jesse Stone: No Remorse (2010)
  • King of the Hill (1 episode, 2010)
  • Psych (1 episode, 2010)
  • NCIS (1 episode, 2010)
  • Jesse Stone: Innocents Lost (2011)
  • Good Morning, Killer (2011)
  • Jesse Stone: Benefit of the Doubt (2012)
  • Revenge (2 episodes, 2012)
  • 24: Live Another Day (12 episodes, 2014)
  • The Grinder (22 episodes, 2015)
  • Jesse Stone: Lost in Paradise (TV Movie, 2015)
  • External Links

    Actor William Devane – Wikipedia

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