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Tall, lean former professional swimmer who appeared on Broadway and toured in Shakespeare in the late 1930s and early 40s before entering film in the mid-40s. A supporting actor in several notable Westerns including "My Darling Clementine" (1946) and "Red River" (1948) and a lead in small noirs likes "Railroaded" (1947), Ireland was nominated for an Oscar for his forceful performance as the newspaper reporter who evolves from devotee to cynical denouncer of demagogue Willie Stark (Broderick Crawford) in "All the King's Men" (1949).
A prolific performer in films and early TV, Ireland had made the transition to supporting roles by the mid-50s, playing cynical villains in films like "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" (1956), "Spartacus" (1960) and "55 Days at Peking" (1962). By the late 60s he was turning up as the star of B-films and second-rate Italian productions like "The House of the Seven Corpses" (1974), "Salon Kitty" (1976) and "Satan's Cheerleaders" (1977), as well as appearing in big-budget fare such as "The Adventurers" (1970). Ireland regularly returned to the stage throughout his career and co-directed two features in the 1950s: "Outlaw Territory/Hannah Lee" (1953) and "The Fast and the Furious" (1954). He was married to actresses Elaine Sheldon (1940-49), Joanne Dru (1949-56) and Daphne Myrick Cameron (from 1962).
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