• William Devane is an American theatre, television, and movie actor.
• He is well-known for his roles as Greg Sumner in “Knots Landing,” and James Heller in “24.”
• He made his debut as a movie actor in 1967 and his debut television role was in an episode of “N.Y.P.D.”
• He is estimated to have a net worth of $6 million and is 5 ft 10 ins tall.
• He has been married to his wife, Eugenie, for 59 years and has two sons.

Known for movies

Short Info

Net Worth$5 million
Date Of BirthSeptember 5, 1937
SpouseEugenie Devane
FactEnjoys horseback riding. Is an avid polo player and has won many awards for it. Is a fly-fisher.
PaymentsEarned $100,000 per episode from From Here to Eternity (1980)

William Devane is a retired American theatre, television and movie actor, who became widely known for playing the character of Greg Sumner on CBS’ primetime soap “Knots Landing,” as James Heller in Fox’s drama series “24,” and his portrayal of US President John F. Kennedy and US Senator Robert F. Kennedy in TV and movies because of his “Kennedyesque” looks.

Early life and family

William Joseph Devane was born on 5 September 1939, in Albany, New York State, to father Joseph Devane of Irish descent, and a mother whose name hasn’t been revealed but of German and Dutch ancestry. His father was said to be the chauffeur of the 32nd US President Franklin D. Roosevelt when he was still the governor of New York, and his mother was said to be a bar owner. Not much other information is available on his life growing up, nor on his family.

Education background

He reportedly went to four high schools in four years in Albany, but there is no information about which one he matriculated from. Devane graduated in 1962 from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts (AADA) in Manhattan, New York City.


First steps

After high school, Devane went to New York and worked as a carpenter and electrician for Joseph Papp, who was a theatre director, producer, and founder of the New York Shakespeare Festival (NYSF), now known as Shakespeare in the Park. He begged Papp until he put him on the stage; he would watch George C. Scott’s performance and learned from him. William was in Papp Production’s Shakespearean plays in the public school circuit, and in 15 plays at NYSF. It was said that his first role was that of a porter in “Macbeth”, and he had his first speaking part in “The Merchant of Venice.”

In 1967, he played the role of the Robert Kennedy, or Robert Ken O’Dunk in the Off-Broadway play, “MacBird.” This was a satire sketch by Barbara Garson, and together with director/writer Roy Levine, made it into a full-length play that incorporated the 35th President John F. Kennedy’s assassination into the story of William Shakespeare’s tragedies, namely “Macbeth,” “Richard III,” and “Hamlet.” It premiered on 22 February 1967 just four years after Kennedy’s assassination, at The Village Gate theatre, believed to be the only one willing to stage the play. The highly successful but controversial play closed after 386 performances on 21 January 1968.

He made his debut as a movie actor in 1967 with “In the Country,” which was written and directed by Robert Kramer.

William Devane

His debut on television was in an episode of ABC’s crime drama series “N.Y.P.D.” which featured stories based on actual cases of the New York City Police Department, and he appeared in two more episodes between 1967 and 1969. Devane made his Broadway debut in 1969 in Lyle Kessler’s “The Watering Place,” but it was unsuccessful and had to close after just one performance.

It was after “MacBird” and while he was doing plays at the Shakespeare Festival when the actor Warren Beatty and director/screenwriter Robert Altman came and cast him for the role of the lawyer, Clement Samuels, in the revisionist western or anti-western movie, “McCabe & Mrs. Miller” (1971). The film was critically praised and was deemed ‘culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant’, so it was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry.

Further success


He played the character of Jock Fenner in the French-Italian comedy “Lady Liberty” in 1971, along with Sophia Loren who played the main lead. Susan Sarandon and Danny DeVito were also in the movie, which was shot in Rome and New York, but received negative reviews from critics. In 1976 Devane was cast for the role of the missing heir turned kidnapper in the last movie directed by Alfred Hitchcock, the comedy thriller, “Family Plot.” This movie that also starred Bruce Dern, Barbara Harris and Karen Black grossed $13.2 million against a $4.5 million budget. He also appeared in the suspense thriller, “Marathon Man,” in 1976 starring Dustin Hoffman and Laurence Olivier. It was received well not just by the critics but also the viewing public with a gross of more than $28 million against a budget of $6.5 million.

“Rolling Thunder” in 1977 was an action thriller with Devane as the main lead, along with Tommy Lee Jones. It was very successful both commercially, grossing around $130 million against $5 million budget, and critically with favorable reviews. Other notable movies he made were the 2000 adventure film, “Space Cowboys,” with Tommy Lee Jones and Clint Eastwood; the 2000 sci-fi thriller, “Hollow Man,” with Kevin Bacon and Elisabeth Shue; and “The Dark Knight Rises” in 2012.

His last movie was in 2014 with a cameo role as Williams from NASA in the sci-fi dystopian movie, “Interstellar,” which starred Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway and Michael Caine. With the production budget of $165 million, it grossed over $650 million worldwide, and Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 72% approval rating from more than 300 reviews, and a 74 out of 100 film score from 46 critics in Metacritic.

William made more than 45 movies and portrayed a variety of roles from 1967 to 2015.


William played the role of President John F. Kennedy, with Martin Sheen as the US Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, in the made-for-TV documentary drama “The Missiles of October” in 1974. It was based on the book, “Thirteen Days: A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis,” by Robert Kennedy, in which he compared Barbara W. Tuchman’s “The Guns of August” (1962) book about the events leading to World War I to the Cuban Missile Crisis, between US and the Soviet Union with Cuba at the center of it, which came close to starting a global nuclear war, and how they averted it. Devane was praised for his portrayal of the president in this two-and-a-half hour production.

William Devane

William landed the role of John Henry Faulk in the TV movie “Fear on Trial,” in 1975, based on the book of the same title that Faulk wrote in 1963. It was about his experience of being blacklisted in the 1950s on radio, because he was falsely accused as a Communist by the organization, AWARE, Inc; he filed a lawsuit against them and won. This helped end the period of blacklisting in Hollywood, promoted by the anti-communist hearings of Senator McCarthy. The CBS TV movie won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in a Special Program, and is performance was also recognized as he was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series.

“Knots Landing”

The CBS’ primetime soap, “Knots Landing,” was a spin-off from the 1978 CBS’ hit series, “Dallas” – the story revolved around four married couples residing in the fictitious Sea View Circle cul-de-sac in a suburb of Los Angeles.

It premiered on 27 December 1979, and William joined the soap as part of the main cast in season five (1983-1984) as Greg Sumner, a US Senator turned businessman, continuing until the end of its run in season 14 (1992-1993). His role as the male antagonist was supposed to be only for eight to ten episodes, but his character was well received and loved by the viewers, and he survived until the end. The soap opera had 14 seasons (1979-1993) with 344 episodes, and Devane was in 10 seasons with 269 episodes. The ratings of the series peaked in the fifth season around the time when he became part of the soap. The four-hour long miniseries, “Knots Landing: Back to the Cul-de-Sac,” was released in two parts in May 1997, retaining most of its cast members including Devane, with the story starting four years after the soap opera ended.

William Devane

Posted by Classic Film Stills on Sunday, January 29, 2017

He was also part of the reunion special, “Knots Landing Reunion: Together Again” in 2005, which had most of the original cast reminiscing about working on the show, and also featuring bloopers and out-takes from the series.


William was cast to play the role of US Secretary of Defense James Heller in this real-time action drama, “24,” which starred Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer, an agent from the Counter-Terrorist Unit. The series premiered on 6 November 2001 and ran for eight seasons with 192 episodes, the last aired on 24 May 2010. It won the Golden Globe Award for Best Drama Series in 2004, and the Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Drama Series in 2006. Devane joined the series in season four, and was in 20 episodes (2005-2007). The TV series returned in 2014 as “24: Live another Day” which started four years after the events of the last episode of previous series. William now played President James Heller, and was in all 12 episodes of the series.

He portrayed a variety of characters in nearly 70 television series, specials and TV movies from 1967 to 2015.

Personal life

William and Eugenie had known each other for a year before deciding to marry in 1961 – they had two sons, but lost their eldest, Bill, in a car accident. Joshua, the youngest, is also an actor.

The couple has been together for 59 years, having lived for over 30 years on their ranch in Thermal in the Coachella Valley, near Palm Springs, California. It is a facility for polo players and trainers, and where polo matches are played and horses bred. According to Devane, the ranch is 140 acres, but they live on just five acres, not as the landlord but the developer. They have around 300 horses and 15 ranches all devoted to polo. They also have a homeowner’s association.

Interesting facts and rumors

  • William often changed his dialogue in his scenes in “Knots Landing,” and it was allowed by the creator and co-executive producer, David Jacobs, who was very supportive of his actors and would tell the writers to trust the actors’ instincts. However, this created conflict with the writers of the show. One time, the script that was handed to him had a note on top that said, ‘Not one word of this can be changed on the floor.’ According to him, he only changed the script to a point in order to give more depth to the character and scene, but he didn’t change the story. He actualy wrote a few episodes of the series.
  • He did not watch any episode of “Knots Landing” before he joined the soap. When he was asked in an interview if he’s a TV watcher, he said that he tries to watch only real things and added, ‘I like to watch real people in real situations because I learn from that.’
  • He has been a member of PGA West for about 30 years, and has often played golf for charities.
  • It was said in a New York Times article published in 1975 that William changed his name from Devaney to Devane.


William is 5ft 10ins (1.78m) tall. He has white hair and blue eyes.

Net worth

He is a successful movie, television and theatre actor, and according to sources, his estimated net worth is around $6 million.

General Info

Full NameWilliam Devane
Net Worth$5 million
Date Of BirthSeptember 5, 1937
Height1.78 m
ProfessionScreenwriter, Actor, Television Director
EducationAmerican Academy of Dramatic Arts


SpouseEugenie Devane
ChildrenJoshua Devane
ParentsJoseph Devane
SiblingsJoey Devane, Pat Devane


AwardsTV Land Anniversary Award
NominationsGolden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama, Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Special Program, Drama or Comedy
MoviesFamily Plot, Rolling Thunder, Space Cowboys, Marathon Man, Hollow Man, Yanks, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Payback, Interstellar, The Missiles of October, The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training, Monte Walsh, Timestalkers, The River Why, Honky Tonk Freeway, Poor White Trash, Stargate: Continuum, Jesse Ston...
TV ShowsThe Grinder, 24: Live Another Day, Crumbs, The Michael Richards Show, Turks, Knots Landing: Back to the Cul-de-Sac, The Monroes, Phenom, Knots Landing, From Here to Eternity, ABC Theatre, Second Chance

Social profile links


From Here to Eternity (1980)$100,000 per episode


1[on working with Vanessa Redgrave in Yanks (1979)] It's been a terrific experience working with somebody as good as she is. An incredible actress. I'm in there with a really high-powered dame, you know. You cut back and forth and Vanessa is incredible. Incredible! She'd survive with Marlon Brando and no woman ever has, except maybe Eva Marie Saint at the beginning.
2[on Robert Redford] I can't stand around like Redford. I'm not that narcissistic. Not that photogenic, either.


1Admits that he only did Poor White Trash (2000) for the money.
2When "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" debuted off-Broadway at the Mercer Arts Center as a stage play in 1971, he originated the role of Randall P. McMurphy.
3Best-known for political roles, largely because of his Kennedyesque looks and mannerisms. Played the President of the United States in Stargate SG-1 (1997), Stargate: Continuum (2008), The Dark Knight Rises (2012) and 24 (2001). Also played the Secretary of State in The West Wing (1999).
4He replaced Roy Thinnes in Alfred Hitchcock's Family Plot (1976) one month into the filming, after the legendary director found out that he was then available because Devane was Hitchcock's first choice for the part. Some long shots in the film are still of Thinnes, but all other footage was re-shot with Devane.
5Appeared with Donald Sutherland in Space Cowboys (2000). He later costarred with Donald's son, Kiefer Sutherland, in 24 (2001).
6Has the rare distinction of being in two movies that opened on the same weekend in the U.S.: Hollow Man (2000) and Space Cowboys (2000) (August 6, 2000).
7Owned a restaurant, Devane's, that specializes in New York-Italian cuisine. Originally located in Indio, the restaurant expanded to Rancho Mirage, CA. Additional restaurants in La Quinta and Palm Springs were slated for a 2008 opening, but due to the economy, they closed.
8Enjoys horseback riding. Is an avid polo player and has won many awards for it. Is a fly-fisher.




The Grinder2015-2016TV SeriesDean Sanderson Sr.
Jesse Stone: Lost in Paradise2015TV MovieDr. Dix
24: Live Another Day2014TV SeriesPresident James Heller
50 to 12014Leonard Doc Blach
Bad Turn Worse2013Big Red
The Dark Knight Rises2012President
Jesse Stone: Benefit of the Doubt2012TV MovieDr. Dix
Red Clover2012TV MoviePop O'Hara
Revenge2012TV SeriesEdward Grayson
Good Morning, Killer2011TV MovieEverett Morgan Gray
Flag of My Father2011Jake
Jesse Stone: Innocents Lost2011TV MovieDr. Dix
The Kane Files: Life of Trial2010Thompson
NCIS2010TV SeriesNicolas Mason
Psych2010TV SeriesFloyd Peters
Notes from the Underbelly2010TV SeriesWalter
Jesse Stone: No Remorse2010TV MovieDr. Dix
King of the Hill2010TV SeriesChuck Garrison
The River Why2010Dutch Hines
The Dealership2009TV MovieFrank Carson
Jesse Stone: Thin Ice2009TV MovieDr. Dix
Chasing the Green2009Victor Gatling
The Least Among You2009Alan Beckett
The Fall2008/IJudge Stanley Seeban
Stargate: Continuum2008VideoPresident Hayes
Jesse Stone: Sea Change2007TV MovieDr. Dix
242005-2007TV SeriesJames Heller
What About Brian2006-2007TV SeriesMichael Davis / Michael O'Hara
Jesse Stone: Death in Paradise2006TV MovieDr. Dix
Crumbs2006TV SeriesBilly Crumb
Deceit2004TV MovieGrove McCarthy
Stargate SG-12004TV SeriesPresident Hayes President Henry Hayes
The West Wing2003TV SeriesSecretary of State Lewis Berryhill
The Wind Effect2003Video shortLT Porter
Monte Walsh2003TV MovieCal Brennan
Threat of Exposure2002Col. Weldon
A Christmas Visitor2002TV MovieGeorge Boyajian
The Badge2002The Judge
The X-Files2002TV SeriesGeneral Mark Suveg
Judging Amy2002TV SeriesRichard McCarty
Race to Space2001Roger Thornhill
The Michael Richards Show2000TV SeriesBrady McKay
Hollow Man2000Dr. Kramer
Space Cowboys2000Eugene Davis
The Man Who Used to Be Me2000TV MovieSam
Poor White Trash2000Ron Lake
Miracle on the Mountain: The Kincaid Family Story2000TV MovieTom Kincaid
Early Edition1997-1999TV SeriesBernie Hobson
Turks1999TV SeriesSergeant Joseph Turk
Touched by an Angel1997TV SeriesBenjamin Parker
Timecop1997TV Mini-SeriesDetective John Langdon
Doomsday Rock1997TV MovieDr. Karl Sorenson
Knots Landing: Back to the Cul-de-Sac1997TV Mini-SeriesGregory Sumner
The Absolute Truth1997TV MovieSen. Emmett Hunter
Exception to the Rule1997Lawrence Kellerman
Forgotten Sins1996TV MovieDr. Richard Ofshe
The Monroes1995TV SeriesJohn Monroe
Detonator II: Night Watch1995TV MovieNick Caldwell
Virus1995TV MovieDr. Harbuck
Falling from the Sky: Flight 1741995TV MovieCapt. Bob Pearson
Frogmen1994TV Movie
Lady in Waiting1994Lt. Barrett
Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman1994TV SeriesAl Capone
For the Love of Nancy1994TV MovieTom
Phenom1993-1994TV SeriesLou Del La Rosa Lou Della Rosa
Rubdown1993TV MovieHarry Orwitz
Knots Landing1983-1993TV SeriesGregory Sumner
Prophet of Evil: The Ervil LeBaron Story1993TV MovieDaniel 'Dan' Fields
The President's Child1992TV Movie
Obsessed1992TV MovieEd Bledsoe
Nightmare in Columbia County1991TV MovieSheriff Jim Metts
A Woman Named Jackie1991TV Mini-SeriesBlack Jack Bouvier
Murder C.O.D.1990TV MovieAlex Brandt
Vital Signs1990Dr. Chatham
Chips, the War Dog1990TV MovieCol. Charnley
The Preppie Murder1989TV MovieJack Litman
Hadley's Rebellion1987Coach Ball
Timestalkers1987TV MovieScott McKenzie
With Intent to Kill1984TV MovieAaron Charney
Testament1983Tom Wetherly
Jane Doe1983TV MovieLieutenant William Quinn
Insight1982TV SeriesRoyce
The Other Victim1981TV MovieHarry Langford
Red Flag: The Ultimate Game1981TV MovieMajor Phil Clark
Honky Tonk Freeway1981Mayor Kirby T. Calo
From Here to Eternity1980TV SeriesMaster Sgt. Milt Warden
The Dark1979Roy Warner / Steve Dupree
From Here to Eternity1979TV Mini-SeriesSgt. Milt Warden
Black Beauty1978TV Mini-SeriesJohn Manly
Rolling Thunder1977Major Charles Rane
The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training1977Mike Leak
Red Alert1977TV MovieFrank Brolen
Marathon Man1976Janeway
Family Plot1976Arthur Adamson
Fear on Trial1975TV MovieJohn Henry Faulk
Report to the Commissioner1975Asst. D.A. Jackson
The Missiles of October1974TV MoviePresident John F. Kennedy
Judgment: The Court Martial of the Tiger of Malaya - General Yamashita1974TV Movie
Shirts/Skins1974TV Movie
The Snoop Sisters1974TV SeriesDavid Prine
Hawaii Five-O1974TV SeriesFallon
Mannix1974TV SeriesAl Kordic
Medical Center1970-1973TV SeriesDr. Ray Waltham
Ironside1972-1973TV SeriesSmiley / Al Chambers
The Bait1973TV MovieEarl Stokey
Crime Club1973TV MovieJack Kilburn
Gunsmoke1973TV SeriesMoss Stratton
Irish Whiskey Rebellion1972Lt. Ashley
Young Dr. Kildare1972TV SeriesOfficer Masters
A Change in the Wind1971as Bill Devane
Lady Liberty1971Jock Fenner
My Old Man's Place1971Jimmy Pilgrim
McCabe & Mrs. Miller1971The Lawyer
The 300 Year Weekend1971Tom
The Pursuit of Happiness1971Pilot
The Interns1970TV SeriesWilliam Hauser
This Town Will Never Be the Same1969TV Movie
N.Y.P.D.1967-1969TV SeriesJohn / William Laney
In the Country1967
Directions1967TV SeriesBoyfriend


Knots Landing1987-1993TV Series written by - 4 episodes
The Million Dollar Rip-Off1976TV Movie based on a screenplay by - as William J. Devane
The 300 Year Weekend1971additional dialogue


Knots Landing1989-1992TV Series 4 episodes


Cowgirl Up2011TV Series thanks - 6 episodes
Celebrating Schlesinger2006Video short special thanks


Home & Family2015TV SeriesHimself
Jack Is Back2014TV Movie documentaryHimself
The Making of 'Rolling Thunder'2013Video shortHimself
The 7th Annual TV Land Awards2009TV SpecialHimself
Celebrating Schlesinger2006Video shortHimself
Knots Landing Reunion: Together Again2005TV Movie documentaryHimself / Gregory Sumner
TV Land Confidential2005TV Series documentaryHimself
Dweezil & Lisa2004TV SeriesHimself
Plotting 'Family Plot'2001Video documentaryHimself
Gaia Symphony II1999DocumentaryVoice over
Hope & Gloria1996TV SeriesHimself
The 20th Annual People's Choice Awards1994TV SpecialHimself - Presenter: Favorite Television Dramatic Series
The 51st Annual Golden Globe Awards1994TV SpecialHimself - Presenter: Best Actress in a TV-Series - Comedy / Musical
The Knots Landing Block Party1993TV Special documentaryHimself / Gregory Sumner
Ancient Secrets of the Bible1992TV Movie documentaryHimself - Host & Narrator
One on One with John Tesh1992TV SeriesHimself
The 18th Annual People's Choice Awards1992TV SpecialHimself - Co-Presenter: Favourite Female Performer in New Television Series
The Morning Program1987TV SeriesHimself - Guest
The 44th Annual Golden Globe Awards1987TV SpecialHimself - Nominee: Best Actor in a TV-Series Drama
The Wildest West Show of the Stars1986TV MovieHimself
The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson1986TV SeriesHimself
The 43rd Annual Golden Globe Awards1986TV SpecialHimself - Presenter: Best Actress / Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV
CBS All-American Thanksgiving Day Parade1985TV SpecialHimself
Battle of the Network Stars XVII1984TV SpecialHimself - CBS Team Captain
Battle of the Network Stars XVI1984TV SpecialHimself - CBS Team Captain
The 24th Annual International Broadcasting Awards1984TV SpecialHimself
The 41st Annual Golden Globe Awards1984TV SpecialHimself - Presenter: Best Actress / Actor in a TV-Series - Comedy / Musical
Battle of the Network Stars XV1983TV SpecialHimself - CBS Team Captain
Natalie - A Tribute to a Very Special Lady1982TV Movie documentaryHimself
Battle of the Network Stars VIII1980TV SpecialHimself - NBC Team
The Merv Griffin Show1979TV SeriesHimself
Battle of the Network Stars VI1979TV SpecialHimself - NBC Team
Battle of the Network Stars V1978TV SpecialHimself - NBC Team

Archive Footage

Revenge: The First Chapter2012TV MovieEdward Grayson
Paybacks Are a Bitch2007Video documentaryHimself
Payback: Straight Up2006VideoFred Carter
Testament at 202003Video documentary shortTom Weatherly
Entertainment Tonight2000TV Series


Won Awards

2009Anniversary AwardTV Land AwardsKnots Landing (1979)
1991Soap Opera Digest AwardSoap Opera Digest AwardsOutstanding Lead Actor: Prime TimeKnots Landing (1979)
1990Soap Opera Digest AwardSoap Opera Digest AwardsOutstanding Lead Actor: Prime TimeKnots Landing (1979)
1989Soap Opera Digest AwardSoap Opera Digest AwardsOutstanding Actor in a Supporting Role: Prime TimeKnots Landing (1979)

Nominated Awards

1988Soap Opera Digest AwardSoap Opera Digest AwardsOutstanding Villain: Prime TimeKnots Landing (1979)
1987Golden GlobeGolden Globes, USABest Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - DramaKnots Landing (1979)
1986Soap Opera Digest AwardSoap Opera Digest AwardsOutstanding Villain on a Prime Time SerialKnots Landing (1979)
1986Soap Opera Digest AwardSoap Opera Digest AwardsOutstanding Actress/Actor in a Comic Relief Role on a Prime Time SerialKnots Landing (1979)
1976Primetime EmmyPrimetime Emmy AwardsOutstanding Lead Actor in a Drama or Comedy SpecialFear on Trial (1975)
1975Primetime EmmyPrimetime Emmy AwardsOutstanding Lead Actor in a Special Program - Drama or ComedyThe Missiles of October (1974)
1975Golden AppleGolden Apple AwardsMale New Star of the Year

Source: IMDb, Wikipedia

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