Since his television debut in 1954 Elcar played nearly 200 roles in film and television. He appeared in numerous guest roles in various series with, in large-scale productions such as 2010, according to Arthur C. Clarke, comedies like solo for two ( with Steve Martin) and Buddy, Buddy! (next to Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon ), in Franco Zeffirelli The Champ and as FBI Agent Polk in the caper comedy The Sting (next to Paul Newman and Robert Redford ).
But he was particularly popular due to its series roles. From 1976 to 1978 he played in the war series Pacific Squadron 214 ( Baa Baa Black Sheep ) Col. Thomas Lard, the paragraph faithful opponent of the sympathetic main character who was played by Robert Conrad figure the U.S. Navy pilot Gregory " Pappy " Boyington (keeping the Boyingtons name ) was modeled. In 1985 he was in the series MacGyver as Pete Thornton, director of the Phoenix Foundation and thus superior of the title character, occupied. Previously, he had played the role of a security chief named Andy Colson in the pilot episode for the series. The figure Pete Thornton was so popular that Elcar from the beginning of the second season, the fixed lead role opposite Richard Dean Anderson as MacGyver got after he was just a recurring supporting cast during the first season.
1991 Elcar ill at the eye disease glaucoma ( glaucoma), where he eventually became blind. Nevertheless, he practiced his profession continues, the increasing loss of sight was written into his role in MacGyver. In the following years Elcar took over again and again guest-starred in television series. In addition, he taught in a school for blind children.
Dana Elcar died age of 77 from complications of pneumonia.