A veteran character player often cast as tough military men or salt-of-the-earth small town Americans, Ryan decided to pursue an acting career after a stint in the special services entertainment unit of the US Navy during the Korean War. He briefly appeared in "Thunder Road" (1958), with Robert Mitchum and then moved to NYC to work for over twenty years on stage and TV. Alternately billed as Mitch or Mitchell Ryan, he made his stage debut in "Whisper to Me" (1960) before joining Joseph Papp's New York Shakespeare Festival in 1962. He played the title role in "Baal" and landed a key role opposite Lee Remick in the thriller "Wait Until Dark" (1966). Among his other stage credits are Eugene O'Neill's "A Moon for the Misbegotten" (1968), "Medea" (1982) and appearances with the Arena Stage in Washington, DC (1969-70).