Chicago born, distinguished US actor and long time civil rights campaigner, Robert Ryan served in the United States Marines as a drill instructor (winning a boxing championship) and went on to become a key figure in post WWII American film noir and western productions.
Primarily a man of pacifist beliefs, Ryan often found it a challenge playing sadistic and racist characters that very much were at odds with his own personal ideals. Additionally, Ryan actively campaigned for improved civil rights, restricting the growth of nuclear weapons and he strongly opposed McCarthyism and its abuse of innocent persons.
Shortly before his death from lung cancer at the age of sixty-three, Ryan publicly denounced his heavy use of cigarettes as the cause of his illness.
By the way, Ryan did not get along with John Wayne while filming Flying Leathernecks (1951), and was appalled by Wayne's active support for blacklisting in Hollywood.