Leif Erickson is also an alternate spelling of the name of explorer Leif Ericson.
Born William Anderson in Alameda, California, Erickson was a musician and singer before making his first film appearance in 1935. Although groomed as a leading man on the basis of his good looks, his subsequent films failed to make him a major star, although he was a regular supporting player, and as he aged established a solid reputation as a character actor.
Among his films are College Holiday (1937), Conquest (1938), Ride a Crooked Mile (1939), Sorry, Wrong Number (1948), The Snake Pit (1948), Fourteen Hours (1951), Invaders from Mars (1953), On the Waterfront (1954), Twilight for the Gods (1958), A Gathering of Eagles (1963) and The Carpetbaggers (1964). Erickson appeared frequently on television and had a leading role in the television series The High Chaparral from 1967 until 1971.
Erickson was married to the actress Frances Farmer from 1936 until 1942. He married the actress Margaret Hayes on the day his divorce from Farmer was finalised, but this marriage lasted only one month.