A balding, sturdy character actor with likably average looks and an approachable if sometimes stern or pompous demeanor, Randolph has played many businessmen, judges (as in "Frances" 1982), officials (the Mayor in "Earthquake" 1974), police chiefs (as in "Serpico" 1973) and authority figures (memorably as Jack Nicholson's father in "Prizzi's Honor" 1985). Prolific on the stage, Randolph started out in one of the Federal Theatre Project's famous "Living Newspapers" which were prevalent during the Depression. He appeared on early TV in the late 1940s and made his feature debut in "The Naked City" (1948), but his career hit a snag in 1951 when he was blacklisted amid the rampant McCarthyist paranoia of the day. It would take almost 15 years for Randolph's career to recover fully.
Although over the course of his career Randolph appeared in the original stage productions of "The Sound of Music", "Paint Your Wagon", "The Visit", "Come Back, Little Sheba" and "Command Decision", it took John Frankenheimer's casting of him in the intriguing science-fiction film "Seconds" (1966) to rejuvenate his career. Cast as a middle-aged man who undergoes a special surgical process and emerges looking decades younger (the role was then played by Rock Hudson), Randolph gave a very moving performance and found his own professional second wind. Supporting roles in features thereafter typically cast him as alternately kindly, tense or crusty types, including Beau Bridges' father in "Gaily, Gaily" (1969), Samuel Adams in the Revolutionary War drama short "Independence" (1976) and another mayor in "Iron Maze" (1991). He also supplied the voice of John Mitchell for the acclaimed "All the President's Men" (1976).
Stage work continued to offer the veteran actor good opportunities, and Randolph won both a Tony and a Drama Desk Award for his work on Broadway in Neil Simon's "Broadway Bound" (1987). A talented actor whose name eludes many but whose face is usually recognized as that of an old pro, Randolph was ideal for TV, and he kept busy on many TV-movies and in the short-lived series "Lucas Tanner" (1975), "Angie" (1978-80), "Annie McGuire" (1988-89) and "Grand" (1990). Although he only played the role in a few episodes, Randolph certainly received wide visibility as the title heroine's father on the popular sitcom "Roseanne" in 1989. Randolph's subsequent feature credits have included "The Wizard of Loneliness" (1988) and "Sibling Rivalry" (1990).