Graduated from Northrop High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana. While there, he received a drama award.
Butler was among the public figures to speak out in 2000 against California's Proposition 22 (also known as the Knight Initiative) that sought to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
In 1995, he and Candace Gingrich served as spokespersons for the National Coming Out Day Project. Butler appeared in public service announcements that included the gently humorous statement, "I'm not a straight man, but I play one on television".
Studied acting at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco from 1976 to 1978.
In high school, Butler pursued his penchant for the stage, winning leading roles in student plays. He also excelled in sports and was elected class president.
Best known for his role as Robert "Bulldog" Briscoe in Frasier (1993). Initially, he was a recurring guest actor, but in 1996, he became a member of the main cast. His character was written out of the show in 1999, but returned to guest star in five episodes of the series' last three seasons.
Butler left both Purdue University and San Jose State College without degrees and migrated to San Francisco where he worked in regional theatre.
Has been involved with the theatre since his youth in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He made his performing debut as a lad in a local production of "The Music Man" and eventually joined the Indiana-Purdue theatre group while in high school.
Openly gay, he starred in Terrence McNally's 1989 play "The Lisbon Traviata" and wrote a one-man off-Broadway play about his life, "The Only Thing Worse You Could Have Told Me...", which derives its title from a comment Butler's father allegedly made when Dan came out to him. In the play, he plays 14 different gay characters.
Father Andrew Butler is a pharmacist; mother Shirley is a homemaker.