James Stewart Tolkan was born in Calumet, Michigan on June 12th 1931. He attended the University of Iowa, Coe College, the Actors Studio and Eastern Arizona College.
He made his on-screen debut in 1960 in Naked City and throughout the 1960’s made appearances in Armstrong Circle Theatre, The Three Sisters, N.Y.P.D., and Stiletto.
As the 1970’s rolled in a number of roles on the small and big screen came to Tolkan , who with his own unique style made them memorable: They Might Be Giants, The Friends of Eddie Coyle, The Werewolf of Washington, Love and Death, Ourstory, Abduction, Independence and The Amityville Horror but the role that got him most noted was the roles of Lt. Steiger in Serpico.
As we hit the 1980’s Tolkan again remained on the big and small screen with particular attention being paid to his roles in Wargames, Turk182!, Iceman, and of course, his role as Mr. Strickland in the Back to the Future trilogy.
Further roles followed in Hill Street Blues, Top Gun, Mary, Armed and Dangerous, Remington Steele, Masters of the Universe, Miami Vice, the Equaliser, True Blood, Dick Tracy, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Tales From the Crypt, Problem Child 2, Bloodfist IV: Die Trying, The Hat Squad, The Wonder Years, Cobra, Nowhere Man, Robo Warriors, Early Edition, A Nero Wolfe Mystery and most recently Bone Tomahawk.