When You Comin' Back, Red Ryder?
American actor and director Kevin Conway has embraced all aspects of show business since deciding to quit his sales analyst position in favor of a career in acting. The New York native has played regular or recurring roles in the TV series “One Life to Live” (1973), “The Outer Limits” (1995-2002), “JAG” (1997-1998), “Oz” (1999-2003) and “The Black Donnellys” (2007) and appeared in the TV movies or miniseries “The Deadliest Season,” “Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye” (both 1977), “The Scarlett Letter” (1979), “The Elephant Man” (1982), “Sidney Sheldon's Rage of Angels” (1983), “Something About Amelia” (1984), “The Whipping Boy” (1995), “Larry McMurtry's 'Streets of Laredo'” (1995), “Sally Hemings: An American Scandal” (2000) and “The Bronx Is Burning” (2007). In addition, he has guest starred in such TV series as “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” “Homicide: Life on the Street,” “Law & Order” and its spin-off “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” “Dark Angel” and “Life on Mars.” Making his film debut in 1971's “Believe in Me,” Conway also appeared in the movies “Slaughterhouse-Five” (1972), “Shamus” (1973), “F.I.S.T” (1978), “The Funhouse” (1981), “Gettysburg” (1993), ”The Quick and the Dead” (1995), “Mercury Rising” (1998), “The Confession” (1999), “Thirteen Days” (2000), “Gods and Generals” (2003), “Mystic River” (2003) and “Invincible” (2006). Conway made his feature directorial debut with the 1987 political drama “The Sun and the Moon.” On stage, the graduate of New York’s Dramatic Workshop received a Drama Desk Award for his acting in the off-Broadway play “When You Comin' Back, Red Ryder?” (1973). Seven years later, he picked up a Drama Desk nomination for his directing effort in “Mecca” (1980). Other plays he has acted in include “The Elephant Man,” “Of Mice and Men” and “Dinner at Eight.”
Childhood and Family:
Kevin John Conway was born on May 29, 1942, in New York City, New York. His father, James John Conway, was a mechanic and his mother, Helen Margaret Conway, was a sales representative. He studied acting at the Dramatic Workshop at Carnegie Hall and under renowned couch Uta Hagen.
Kevin is married to Mila Burnette.
One Life to Live
Kevin Conway decided to pursue an acting career on his 24th birthday and subsequently left his job as an IBM sales analyst. The student of Uta Hagen made his stage acting debut in a 1967 production of “The Impossible Years” in Denver, Colorado. He followed it up by debuting off-Broadway with “Muzeeka” at the Provincetown Playhouse in 1968 and on Broadway with “Indians” in 1969. Conway, however, did not start his screen career until the early 1970s when he was cast as Clancy in “Believe in Me” (1971), a drama directed by Stuart Hagmann starring Michael Sarrazin and Jacqueline Bisset. The same year, he also made his TV movie debut in “Hogan's Goat,” which was based on a play by William Alfred. In the 1980s-set drama, he appeared opposite stars Faye Dunaway and Robert Foxworth.
After appearing as Bud Whitman in the short-lived soap opera “A World Apart” (1971), Conway landed a supporting role in George Roy Hill's big screen version of Kurt Vonnegut Jr.'s book, “Slaughterhouse-Five” (1972), which starred Michael Sacks. He then appeared in such 1970s films as “Portnoy's Complaint” (1972, starred Karen Black), “Shamus” (1973, starred Burt Reynolds), Norman Jewison's “F.I.S.T” (1978, with Sylvester Stallone, Rod Steiger and Peter Boyle) and “Paradise Alley” (1978), a drama which was directed, written by and starred “F.I.S.T” costar Stallone.
In 1973, the same year he shot the TV pilot “RX for the Defense” for ABC, Conway gained notice on stage thanks to his work in a production of “When You Comin' Back, Red Ryder?” He was handed a 1974 Drama Desk Award for his performance. Other off-Broadway or Broadway credits include “One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest,” “The Elephant Man” (as Dr. Frederick Treves), “Other People's Money,” “Moonchildren,” “The Plough and the Stars,” and “Of Mice and Men” (with James Earl Jones),
In 1973, Conway enjoyed additional attention on television when he landed a spot on the Emmy nominated ABC soap opera “One Life to Live,” where he played Earl Brock. The hardworking actor resurfaced on the small screen in 1977 in the TV films “The Deadliest Season” (CBS) and “Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye” (NBC). Conway rounded out the decade with the supporting role of Roger Chillingworth in the PBS miniseries “The Scarlett Letter” (1979).
1980 saw Conway make his stage directing debut with “Mecca.” For a job well done, he was nominated for a Drama Desk for Outstanding Director of a Play. During the next few years, he was cast in Tobe Hooper's horror film “The Funhouse” (1981) and recreated his stage role of Dr. Frederick Treves on the ABC TV film adaptation of “The Elephant Man” (1982), which starred Philip Anglim. The remake was nominated for a 1982 Emmy in the category of Outstanding Drama Special. He went on to act in “Sidney Sheldon's Rage of Angels” (1983, TV), the applauded “Something About Amelia” (1984, TV), “Attack on Fear” (1984, TV) and “Flashpoint” (1984), an unnoticed mystery which cast him alongside Kris Kristofferson, Treat Williams and Rip Torn. In 1986, he made a guest appearance in “Walk-Alone,” an episode of the cult phenomenon “Miami Vice.”
Conway returned to the director's chair in 1987, this time helming the independent feature “El Sol y la Luna/The Sun and the Moon.” He cast his wife, Mila Burnette, and Portuguese actor Joaquim de Almeida to star with him in the film, which he also co-produced. Back in front of the film cameras, Conway had an unaccredited part in the Chevy Chase vehicle “Funny Farm,” which was based on a 1985 novel of the same name by Jay Cronley, played Grazziano in the film “Homeboy” (1988), which was written by and starred Mickey Rourke, and supported Lee Remick in the CBS Original Movie “Jesse” (1988). He also guest starred in the TV series “The Equalizer” and “In the Heat of the Night” (both 1989).
In the first half of the 1990s, Conway could be seen in such movies as “When Will I Be Loved?” (1990, TV), “One Good Cop” (1991, opposite Michael Keaton, Rene Russo and Anthony LaPaglia), “Rambling Rose” (1991, with Laura Dern, Robert Duvall and Diane Ladd), “Jennifer Eight” (1992, with Andy Garcia, Uma Thurman, Kathy Baker and John Malkovich), “Gettysburg” (1993, starred Tom Berenger and Martin Sheen), Sam Raimi's “The Quick and the Dead” (1995, opposite Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman and Russel Crowe) and “The Whipping Boy” (1995, TV). He also portrayed Mox Mox in the CBS miniseries “Larry McMurtry's 'Streets of Laredo'” (1995), had a regular role in the short-lived CBS newspaper drama “New York News” (1995, as Jim Kowalski) and appeared in episodes of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” (1993, as Kahles) and “Homicide: Life on the Street” (1995, as Joseph Cardero). In 1995, he was cast in the Showtime series “The Outer Limits,” a role he kept until the show ended in 2002.
Conway continued to act in “Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace” (1996), a sci-fi film directed by Farhad Mann, portrayed Kelly Dobbs in the CBS television movie “Calm at Sunset” (1996), based on the 1989 Paul Watkins book of the same name, joined Bruce Willis and Alec Baldwin in Harold Becker's action movie “Mercury Rising” (1998), and was cast opposite Ben Kingsley and Amy Irving in “The Confession” (1999), a drama which won a 2000 WGA Award (TV) for Adapted Long Form. The busy actor also appeared as Lt. John Flynn in a 1996 episode of “Law & Order” named “Corruption” and in a 1998 episode of “Stargate SG-1” titled “Message in a Bottle.” He then appeared in two episode of the legal drama “JAG” (1997-1998, as Roscoe Martin) before starting his role of Seamus O'Reily on the HBO prison drama “Oz,” a recurring gig that he would hold until 2003. On the stage, Conway was spotted starring with Ford Austin, Lauree Dash, and Tom Ligon in a 1998 original production of “Lawyers.”
Entering the new millennium, Conway played Jim O'Neary in Raymond De Felitta's “Two Family House” (2000), which won the Audience Award at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival, General Curtis LeMay in the political drama “Thirteen Days” (2000), which was helmed by Roger Donaldson and starred Kevin Costner, and Thomas Paine in the miniseries “Sally Hemings: An American Scandal” (2000), about the long-running relationship between Thomas Jefferson (played by Sam Neill) and his slave mistress, Sally Hemings (played by Carmen Ejogo). He then had an unaccredited part in the CBS television movie “The Flamingo Rising” (2001), which starred William Hurt and Elizabeth McGovern, portrayed King Leo in the Martin Lawrence vehicle “Black Knight” (2001), and recreated his role of Sgt. 'Buster' Kilrain in “Gods and Generals” (2003). He also received the featured role of Theo in the Clint Eastwood-directed “Mystic River” (2003). On stage, Conway portrayed Dan Packard in a revival of “Dinner at Eight” (2002), which enjoyed a successful run at the Lincoln Center in New York.
After starring with Saundra Santiago in the short film “The Promise” (2004), Conway was cast as the father of Mark Wahlberg in “Invincible” (2006), which was based on the true story of Eagles football player Vince Papale. The biopic was nominated for an ESPY award for Best Sports Movie. In 2007, he was cast as Gabe Paul in the eight-part baseball series “The Bronx Is Burning” (ESPN), which was nominated for a 2008 Emmy for Outstanding Casting for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special. His costars in the series included John Turturro, Oliver Platt and Daniel Sunjata. The same year, he also joined Jonathan Tucker, Thomas Guiry, Olivia Wilde, Billy Lush, Michael Stahl-David, Kirk Acevedo, Keith Nobbs, Kate Mulgrew, Peter Greene, and Michael Rispoli to star in the NBC series “The Black Donnellys.” The drama, however, was soon canceled due to poor ratings.
On February 4, 2009, Conway played Donovan Stamp in “The Dark Side of the Mook,” an episode of the crime/drama series “Life on Mars.”
Drama Desk: “When You Comin' Back, Red Ryder?” 1974