Son of character actor Robert Keith and stage actress Helena Shipman. He grew up on the road with his parents while they toured in plays. First appeared at age 3 in film Pied Piper Malone (1924) with his father. Began acting in radio programs and on stage before World War II. Joined the Marines and served as a machine gunner. Returned to Broadway stage after the war and branched out into television and film. Worked as an extra in several films before achieving speaking roles and subsequent stardom.
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