Handsome, rugged, versatile and charismatic character actor Tom Atkins was born on November 13, 1935 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Atkins initially became an avid horror film fan in his childhood days; Howard Hawks' immortal classic The Thing from Another World (1951) made an especially strong impression on him as a kid. Tom attended Duquesne University in Pittsburgh and was a member of the Gamma Phi Fraternity. Atkins made his film debut as a rookie police officer in the Frank Sinatra private eye-outing The Detective (1968); it was the first of many police officer roles he has played throughout the years. Tom appeared in two films for director John Carpenter: he is very likable as Nick Castle in the spooky ghost film The Fog (1980) and solid as Rehme in the fantastic futuristic sci-fi/action cult film Escape from New York (1981). Atkins had a nice small role as a disapproving and overbearing father in the wrap-around segments of the immensely enjoyable fright feature anthology Creepshow (1982). He made for a touchingly flawed hero as Dr. Daniel Challis in the unjustly maligned Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982).
Tom gave a smack dead-on-the-money terrific performance as weary, cynical and suicidal Detective Ray Cameron in the delightful Night of the Creeps (1986) (this movie is Tom's personal favorite among all the horror films he has acted in). He was once again excellent as the similarly burnt-out Lt. Frank McCrae in the fine Maniac Cop (1988) and impressive as the guilt-ridden heroin smuggler Michael Hunsaker in the exciting blockbuster Lethal Weapon (1987). Atkins had a recurring part as Lt. Alex Diehl on the television series The Rockford Files (1974); he reprised this character in several spin-off made-for-TV movies. Among the television series Tom has done guest spots on are Oz (1997), Xena: Warrior Princess (1995), Walker, Texas Ranger (1993), The Equalizer (1985), Spenser: For Hire (1985), The Fall Guy (1981), Lou Grant (1977), Baretta (1975) and M*A*S*H (1972). Outside of his film and television work, Atkins has had a long and distinguished stage career. He has acted on Broadway in the plays "The Changing Room" (Tom won a 1973 Drama Desk Award for Most Promising Performer), "Keep It in the Family" and "The Unknown Soldier and His Wife". His off-Broadway credits include "Vikings", "Long Days Journey Into Night", "Whistle in the Dark" and "Nobody Hears a Broken Drum". Tom frequently acts in plays held at the Pittsburgh Public Theater; he has garnered plenty of accolades for his outstanding portrayal of Pittsburgh Steelers founder Art Rooney in the acclaimed one-man show "The Chief". Tom Atkins resides in Peters Township, Washington County, Pennsylvania.