Bob Gunton

Robert Patrick Gunton Jr. (born November 15, 1945) is an American character actor of stage and screen. He is known for playing strict, authoritarian characters, including Warden Samuel Norton in the 1994 prison drama The Shawshank Redemption, Chief George Earle in 1993's Demolition Man, Dr. Walcott, the domineering dean of Virginia Medical School in Patch Adams, and Secretary of State Cyrus Vance in Argo. He also played Leland Owlsley in the Daredevil television series, Secretary of Defense Ethan Kanin in 24, and Noah Taylor in Desperate Housewives.

Bob Gunton
Robert Patrick Gunton Jr.

(1945-11-15) November 15, 1945 (age 75)
EducationMater Dei High School
Alma materPaulist Seminary St Peter's College
University of California, Irvine
Years active1979–present
Annie McGreevey
(m. 1980; div. 2006)

Carey Pitts
(m. 2006)
Military career
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service1969–71
RankArmy-USA-OR-05.svg Sergeant
Unit501st Infantry Regiment
Battles/warsVietnam War
AwardsBronze Star Medal ribbon.svg Bronze Star Medal
Army Commendation Medal ribbon.svg Army Commendation Medal
Vietnam Service Medal ribbon.svg Vietnam Service Medal

In addition to his film and television career, Gunton is a prolific theatre actor. He originated the role of Juan Perón in the Broadway premiere of Evita and the titular character in the 1989 revival of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, roles for which he received two Tony Award nominations. He is the recipient of a Drama Desk Award, an Obie Award, and a Clarence Derwent Award.

Early life and educationEdit

Gunton was born November 15, 1945, in Santa Monica, California, the son of Rose Marie (née Banovetz) and Robert Patrick Gunton Sr., a labor union executive.[1] He attended Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, California, the Paulist Seminary St Peter's College, in Baltimore, Maryland, and the University of California, Irvine. A lifelong devout Roman Catholic, Gunton had initially planned to become a priest.[2][3]

Military serviceEdit

Gunton served in the United States Army (1969–71) as a radio telephone operator with the 2nd Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division, and was assigned to Fire Support Base Ripcord atop a mountain in the A Sầu Valley during a 23-day siege.[4]

He and a comrade were awarded Bronze Star commendations for returning to the base to retrieve important but forgotten radios in the evacuation’s final moments so they would not fall into the hands of the North Vietnamese Army (NVA), which was about to capture the base, making him one of the last people to evacuate the base. During the battle, he lost one of his dog tags, but it was returned to him over 40 years later in 2018.[5][6]


Gunton played the role of Juan Peron in the original 1980 Broadway production of Evita, earning a nomination for Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for his performance. He later starred in the title role of a 1989 Broadway revival of Sweeney Todd and received a second Tony nomination for his portrayal. Additional Broadway credits include Working, King of Hearts, The Music Women, How I Got That Story, and Big River.

Gunton portrayed President Richard Nixon in a recreation of the Watergate tapes incident for Nightline. He also played President Woodrow Wilson in the film Iron Jawed Angels (2004). Gunton is also known for his guest starring role as Capt. Benjamin Maxwell in the well-received 1991 Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Wounded". Gunton played Warden Samuel Norton, the head of Shawshank State Prison and the primary antagonist in The Shawshank Redemption (1994) opposite Tim Robbins. Gunton played Cecil Dobbs in the 2011 film The Lincoln Lawyer.

Gunton also guest starred in the first season of Desperate Housewives and the sixth season of 24, where he portrayed United States Secretary of Defense Ethan Kanin. He signed on as series regular afterward and reprised the role of Kanin but now as the Chief of Staff to the new president, Allison Taylor, in the show's seventh season as well as the two-hour television prequel film, 24: Redemption. He returned again for the eighth season but this time as the President's Secretary of State. Gunton portrays Leland Owlsley in the 2015 TV series Daredevil.[7] Gunton made a guest appearance on[8] Law & Order: Special Victims Unit in January 2017.

Stage creditsEdit

Year Title Role Notes
1965 Tennessee, U.S.A. Johnny Timberlake
1972 The Kid Cowpoke
1977 Happy End Ben Owens / Bill Cracker (understudy)
1978 Working Bud Jonas / Frank Decker
King of Hearts Raoul Nominated- Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical
1979 Tip-Toes Rollo Metcalf
1979–83 Evita President Juan Peron Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical
Nominated- Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical
1980 How I Got That Story The Historical Event Clarence Derwent Award for Most Promising Male Performer
Obie Award for Distinguished Performance by an Actor
Nominated- Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Play
1981 Isn't It Romantic? Paul Stuart
1982 The Death of Von Richtofen as Witnessed From Earth Hermann Göring
Hamlet King Claudius
1983 Passion Play James
An American Comedy George Reilly
1984 Amadeus Antonio Salieri
1985–87 Big River The King Nominated- Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical
1987–90 Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street Sweeney Todd Nominated- Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical
Nominated- Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Musical
Nominated- Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Actor in a Musical
1987 Roza Lola
1988 Phaedra Britannica Governor
2000 The Poison Tree The Hon. Ronald S. Rogers
2002 Follies Benjamin Stone
2003 On the Twentieth Century Oscar Jaffee
2004 The Great Ostrovsky David Ostrovsky Nominated- Barrymore Award for Excellence in Theater



Year Title Role Notes
1981 Rollover Sal Naftari
1985 Static Frank
1987 The Pick-up Artist Fernando Portacarrero
Matewan C.E. Lively
1989 Cookie Richie Segretto
Glory Gen. Harker
Born on the Fourth of July Doctor
1991 JFK TV Newsman
1992 Patriot Games Interviewer
The Public Eye Older Agent
Sinatra Tommy Dorsey
1993 Father Hood Lazzaro
Demolition Man Chief George Earle
1994 The Shawshank Redemption Warden Samuel Norton
1995 Dolores Claiborne Mr. Pease
Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls Burton Quinn
In Pursuit of Honor Colonel John Hardesty
1996 Broken Arrow Pritchett
The Glimmer Man Frank Deverell
The Siege at Ruby Ridge Bo Gritz
1997 A Thousand Acres Judge Uncredited
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil Finley Largent
Elvis Meets Nixon President Richard Nixon
Buffalo Soldiers Col. Benjamin Grierson
1998 Patch Adams Dean Walcott
1999 Bats Dr. Alexander McCabe
2000 Running Mates Terrence Randall
The Perfect Storm Alexander McAnally III
2001 61* Dan Topping
2002 Boat Trip Boat Captain
2004 I Heart Huckabees Mr. Silver
Iron Jawed Angels President Woodrow Wilson
2006 Believe in Me Hugh Moreland
2007 Dead Silence Edward Ashen
Fracture Judge Gardner
Numb Dr. Townsend
Pandemic Dr. Max Sorkosky
Rendition Lars Whitman
2008 The Lazarus Project Father Ezra
2009 Tenure William Thurber
2010 The Trial Joe Whetstone
2011 The Lincoln Lawyer Cecil Dobbs
Kill the Irishman Jerry Merke
Get the Gringo Thomas Kaufmann
2012 Trouble with the Curve Watson
Argo Secretary of State Cyrus Vance Hollywood Film Awards for Best Ensemble Cast
2013 Jimmy Sheriff Brinson
Runner Runner Dean Alex Monroe
Live at the Foxes Den Tony O'Hara
2015 Larry Gaye: Renegade Male Flight Attendant Flight School Instructor
The 33 President Sebastián Piñera
2018 Unbroken: Path to Redemption Major Zeigler
The Gettysburg Address William Herndon (voice)


Year Title Role Notes
1985 The Equalizer Cronin Episode "Mama's Boy"
1988 Miami Vice Rivas Episode: "Heart of Night"
1990 Law & Order Gil Himes Episode: "Happily Ever After"
Judgment Monsignor Beauvais Television film
Sesame Street Home Video Visits the Firehouse Chief Kirby Short
1991 A Woman Named Jackie Jacqueline's stepfather, Hugh Auchincloss 3 episodes
Star Trek: The Next Generation Captain Benjamin Maxwell Episode: "The Wounded"
1993 Wild Palms Dr. Tobias Schenkl Miniseries
1994 Roswell Frank Joyce Television film
1996 The Siege at Ruby Ridge Bo Gritz
1998 The Outer Limits Clute Nichols Episode: "The Hunt"
2002 Greg the Bunny Junction Jack Main role
Touched By an Angel Sidney Alcott Episode: "A Feather on the Breath of God"
2003 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Director Robert Carvallo Episode: "Play with Fire"
Peacemakers Mayor Malcolm Smith Main role
2004–2006 Desperate Housewives Noah Taylor Recurring role
2004 Monk Dwight Ellison Episode: "Mr. Monk and the Game Show"
2005 Nip/Tuck Agent Sagamore 3 episodes
2006 Pepper Dennis Dick Dinkle Recurring role
E-Ring General Hughes 3 episodes
2007 Women's Murder Club Arthur Lazar Episode: "Train In Vain"
The Batman Gorman Voice, Episode: "Riddler's Revenge"
2007–2010 24 Ethan Kanin Main role
2008 World War II: Behind Closed Doors President Franklin D. Roosevelt BBC documentary with historical reconstructions[9]
24: Redemption Ethan Kanin Television film
2010 Royal Pains Gen. William Collins Recurring role
2011 Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior Marshall Phelps Episode: "Strays"
Family Guy Warden Voice, Episode: "Cool Hand Peter"
2012 Wilfred Warner Episode: "Now"
2014 New Girl Ed Episode: "Basketball"
2015 Gortimer Gibbon's Life on Normal Street Ranger's grandfather 2 episodes
Daredevil Leland Owlsley Main cast (season 1)
2017 Law and Order: Special Victims Unit Lawrence Hendricks Sr. Episode: Decline and Fall
2018 The Blacklist Nicholas Moore 2 episodes
2019 The Cool Kids Colonel Christianson Episode: "Funeral Crashers"
Project Blue Book President Harry S. Truman Episode: "The Washington Merry-Go Round"
Elementary Frederick Wentz Episode: "Reichenbach Falls"


  1. ^ "Bob Gunton Biography (1945-)".
  2. ^ "Toledo Blade - Google News Archive Search".
  3. ^ Angelo Stagnaro (February 26, 2017). "Where the Stars Go to Pray: The Churches of Hollywood". Retrieved June 15, 2017.
  4. ^ "Hollywood star, Vietnam vet reunites with dog tag in Cherry Hill". Courier-Post. Retrieved November 26, 2019.
  5. ^ "Robert Gunton - Actor , Vietnam Veteran and Bronze Star recipient reunited with his long lost dog tag - Patriot Connections Dog Tag Project | Patriot Connections". Retrieved November 26, 2019.
  6. ^ "Actor/Vietnam Veteran and Bronze Star recipient, Bob Gunton, to be reunited with his Dog Tag at Cherry Hill Legion | Patriot Connections". Retrieved November 26, 2019.
  7. ^ Netflix Sets Marvel’s “Daredevil” For April!
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ "BBC Two - World War II: Behind Closed Doors". December 19, 2008. Retrieved February 20, 2012.

Further readingEdit

  • Voisin, Scott. Character Kings: Hollywood's Familiar Faces Discuss the Art & Business of Acting. BearManor Media, 2009. ISBN 978-1-59393-342-5.

External linksEdit