The craggly-faced film actor was born in Spokane, Washington and raised in Montana, growing up with ranchers and cowboys which would eventually inspire his performances in dozens of westerns later in life. The USC graduate began his acting career in radio and on stage.
McIntire began his long movie career in 1947 often playing roles as police chiefs, judges and sometimes crazy coots. His films include the film noir classic The Asphalt Jungle (1950) and his last film playing a crazy dog owner in Turner & Hooch (1989). He also played movie villains in westerns, some of which are considered the best films of the genre; Winchester '73 (1950) and The Tin Star (1957). On television, he appeared in The Naked City (his character was killed off) and played the wagon master on Wagon Train in 1961, and replaced actor Lee J. Cobb on The Virginian in 1967. He married fellow actor Jeanette Nolan, in 1935, and they had two children together, one of whom was the actor Tim McIntire who starred in the 1978 film American Hot Wax.
McIntire died from emphysema and lung cancer in 1991, He was 84 years old.