Richards was born in New York City and raised in Fall River, Massachusetts.
Richards began acting in stock theater in Cape Cod while he worked 16 hours a day as a driver of a fruit truck. He continued his stock acting for eight years. He acted on Broadway in The Wanhope Building (1947), Embezzled Heaven (1944), The World We Make (1939), and Brown Danube (1939).
After serving in the military during World War II, Richards studied dialects, diction, and speech in New York, in addition to working in radio and television.
He appeared in 150 films and televisions shows from 1940 into the mid 1980s. He appeared in a 1952 episode of Superman "The Night of Terror" and a 1953 episode of The Lone Ranger. His first stage appearance was in 1938 and his last film was John Cassavetes' A Woman Under the Influence in 1974.
On April 15, 1992, Richards died in Las Vegas, Nevada.