Dan attended Senn High School in Chicago and graduated from the University of Chicago with a B.S. in Fine Arts. While in college, he worked in many school plays and also worked at night as an emcee at various Chicago night clubs becoming quite successful. He moved to Hollywood where his rotund build (265 pounds), and swarthy looks made him perfect for a Hollywood heavy. His favorite loves were good food and cigars. Dan married Evelyn Schwartz in 1949 and had two children, Jeff, born in 1950, and Greg, born in 1954.