Walter Stacy Keach, Jr. (born June 2, 1941) is an American actor of stage, film, and television. Highly prolific, he has played mainly dramatic roles throughout his career, including author Mickey Spillane’s fictional detective Mike Hammer in the 1984 TV series Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer and later a series of television films. However, he has also performed as a narrator for programs including CNBC’S American Greed and various educational television programs. He has appeared on The Opie & Anthony Show on Sirius XM satellite radio, as well as performing comedy, particularly in his role in the Fox sitcom Titus as Ken, the father of comedian Christopher Titus, and as Sergeant Stedenko in Up in Smoke.
Keach was born with a cleft lip and a partial cleft of the hard palate, and he underwent numerous operations as a child. Throughout his adult life he has often worn a mustache to hide the scars. He is now the honorary chairman of the Cleft Palate Foundation, and advocates for insurance coverage for such surgeries. In the 1971 film Doc, Keach impersonated the title character, John “Doc” Holliday, who historians specializing in the American West believe might likewise have been born with a cleft palate.
In 1984, London police arrested Keach at Heathrow Airport for possession of cocaine. Keach pleaded guilty, and served six months at Reading Prison. This was during the run of Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer, which Keach also narrated in character, and impressionist Rich Little had to fill in as the show’s narrator during Keach’s imprisonment.
Keach has been married four times: to Kathryn Baker in 1964, to Marilyn Aiken in 1975, to Jill Donahue in 1981, and to Malgosia Tomassi around 1986.
Keach stated that his time in prison (which he said was the lowest point of his life) and the friendship he formed with a priest who befriended him during that time, led to his conversion to Roman Catholicism. Subsequently, he and his wife were able to meet with Pope John Paul II to have their son blessed since his wife, Malgosia Tomassi, had gone to the same school that the Pope had attended in Warsaw.