As a youth, he performed with the Curtain Pullers, at the Cleveland Play House. He studied acting at Northwestern University before and after his service in the Army during World War II. In the late 1940s, he became program director at WNBK, Cleveland's new NBC television station. In the 50's, he hosted a Cleveland children's show as "Uncle Joe." Off-Broadway credits include The Matchmaker (Union Square Theatre), The Beauty Part (American Place); Invitation to a Beheading (Public Theatre), The Cradle Will Rock (Theatre Four), and Henry V, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Romeo and Juliet, Troilus and Cressida, and Love's Labor's Lost all at the Delacorte in Central Park.