Foran was born in Flemington, New Jersey, the first of five sons to Arthur F. and Elizabeth Foran. His father Arthur F. Foran was a Republican member of the New Jersey Senate as was Dick Foran's younger brother, Walter E. Foran. Foran was a bright student and a good athlete in high school with a fine singing voice and often sang in the church choir. After graduation he attended the Hun School, a college preparatory school in nearby Princeton, and then enrolled at Princeton University pursuing a degree in geology. He played on the football team while taking courses in the arts where he develop an interest in the theater.
Foran studied music at the Leibling Studio in New York before singing on radio. After becoming a lead singer in a band and later forming his own orchestra, Foran was hired by Warner Bros. as a supporting actor (he was six feet two, with red hair). He would also croon when called upon in films such as Change of Heart (1934) with Janet Gaynor made for Fox Film Corporation. His handsome appearance and good natured personality made him a natural choice for the supporting cast. He first appeared as asinging cowboy in his first starring role in Moonlight on the Prairie (1935). Other singing cowboy features included Song of the Saddle (1936), Guns of the Pecos (1937), Empty Holsters (1937) and Cowboy from Brooklyn (1938).
In 1938, Foran moved to Universal Studios and acted in many different genres of film from horror to comedies with Abbott and Costello such as Ride 'Em Cowboy (1942). In 1942, Foran starred as Lon Prentice in a 68-minute war support film, Private Buckaroo.
In 1943, Foran starred on Broadway in the Rodgers and Hart musical comedy A Connecticut Yankee, based on Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.
He appeared in at least four episodes of Science Fiction Theatre (1955). One of these, "The Miracle Hour" (aired December 22, 1956), is about a man who never gives up hope that his fiancee's blind six-year-old son won't have to spend the holidays in darkness. The show featured Jean Byron as the fiancee and Charles Herbert as the child. He appeared three times (1955–1956) as Father Brophy on the ABC anthology series, Crossroads. He guest starred in the syndicated crime drama, Sheriff of Cochise, starring John Bromfield. He was cast as a lawman in the episode "The Third Rider" in the first season (1957) of the ABC/Warner Brothers western series, Maverick, with Jack Kelly.
Foran portrayed the character Tuck Degan in the 1957 episode "Final Payment" of another ABC/WB western series, Colt .45, starring Wayde Preston.
In 1959, Foran portrayed Dr. David Craig on CBS's Perry Mason in the episode, "The Case of the Bedeviled Doctor." Later that year, he played defendant Steve Benton in another Perry Mason episode, "The Case of the Garrulous Gambler." He was also featured as Perry Mason's client in the 1961 episode, "The Case of the Renegade Refugee."
Throughout his career, he starred in The Petrified Forest (1936), The Sisters (1938), Rangers of Fortune (1940), The Mummy's Hand (1940), and Keep 'Em Flying (1941). In 1954, Foran guest starred on NBC's Justice, a legal drama starring Dane Clark and Gary Merrill, on CBS's The Public Defender starring Reed Hadley and Hugh Beaumont, and on NBC's The Martha Raye Show, a comedy/variety show starring comedienne Martha Raye. He also appeared as Burt, a carnival hustler, in 1957 on NBC's Father Knows Best, with Robert Young.
In 1959, Foran was cast as David Steele in the episode "The Adjuster" of the NBC crime drama series, Richard Diamond, Private Detective, starring David Janssen. Dabbs Greer and DeForest Kelley also appear in this episode.
Foran later appeared as Gabriel Marion, brother of title character Francis Marion (Leslie Nielsen), in the Walt Disney Presents miniseries, The Swamp Fox. In 1968, Foran was cast in the role of "Fred Haines" in Season 1, Episode 13 of the NBC television series, Adam-12.
One of his last film roles was a small one in Donovan's Reef (1963), starring his long-time friend John Wayne. His final film appearance was as the prospector "Old Timer" in the sentimental film, Brighty of the Grand Canyon (1967) with Joseph Cotten, Pat Conway, and Karl Swenson.
Foran has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.