A graduate of the University of Southern California School of Law, Morris Ankrum was an attorney and an economics professor before switching careers and joining the theater. He was a veteran stage actor by the time he entered the film industry in the 1930s, where he spent much time in westerns, playing everything from Indian chiefs to crooked town bankers. He was often cast as the villain in numerous films of the highly popular Hoplaong Cassidy series. It was in the 1950s, though, that he hit his stride in the genre for which he is most fondly remembered – science-fiction films, where his gruff, no-nonsense demeanor and authoritative voice perfectly fit the role of the military officer helping scientists fight an outer-space menace, most memorably as Col. Fielding in the classic Invaders from Mars (1953). Toward the end of his career Ankrum had a recurring role as a judge on the Perry Mason (1957) TV series.