After being dropped by the studio he was under contract with, his career plummeted when the only roles he could garner were with bad B-movie studios. Before that he was widely acknowledged for his role in arguably one of the greatest gangster films ever made, The Public Enemy.
He started as an actor of the theater in Salt Lake City before being cast in several Broadway shows where he worked with some of the best talent in the industry of the time.
Some of the films in which he appeared before he was relegated to B-pictures included Dinner at Eight, Hot Saturday, and They Never Come Back.
He was one of three sons to his parents Mary and William.
He was initially supposed to play Tom Powers instead of Matt Doyle in The Public Enemy, but the role went to James Cagney instead.