Charles Grodin

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Charles Grodin
Grodin at the Book Expo 2007 at the Javits Center
BornCharles Grodin
(1935-04-21) April 21, 1935 (age 79)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
OccupationActor, author, comedian
Years active1954–present
Spouse(s)Julie Ferguson (?-1968; divorced; 1 child)
Elissa Durwood (1985–present; 1 child)
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Charles Grodin
Grodin at the Book Expo 2007 at the Javits Center
BornCharles Grodin
(1935-04-21) April 21, 1935 (age 79)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
OccupationActor, author, comedian
Years active1954–present
Spouse(s)Julie Ferguson (?-1968; divorced; 1 child)
Elissa Durwood (1985–present; 1 child)

Charles Grodin (born April 21, 1935) is an American actor, comedian, author, and former cable talk show host.

Grodin began his acting career in the 1960s appearing in TV serials including The Virginian. He had a small part as an obstetrician in Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby in 1968. In the 1970s he moved into film acting, including playing the lead in The Heartbreak Kid and a supporting role in Catch-22. He became a familiar face as a supporting actor in many 1980s Hollywood comedies, including Midnight Run, Heaven Can Wait, Taking Care of Business, Seems Like Old Times, The Great Muppet Caper, The Woman in Red, The Lonely Guy, Ishtar and The Couch Trip. He is probably best known for his role as George Newton in the 1990s John Hughes comedy franchise Beethoven.

Grodin has won several acting awards, including American Comedy Award for Funniest Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture for 1993's Dave, Best Actor at the 1988 Valladolid International Film Festival (for Midnight Run). He was nominated for Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for The Heartbreak Kid in 1972. He also shared a 1978 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program for his work on The Paul Simon Special.

In the mid-1990s, Grodin became a talk show host on CNBC and in 2000 a political commentator for 60 Minutes II. He has written several autobiographical and acting related works, including 1990's It Would Be So Nice If You Weren't Here: My Journey Through Show Business and 1994's We're Ready for You, Mr. Grodin.

Early life[edit]

Grodin was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Orthodox Jewish parents[1][2] Lena (Singer), who worked as an assistant in the family's store and was a volunteer for disabled veterans, and Theodore I. Grodin, who sold wholesale supplies.[3] His maternal grandfather was an immigrant from Russia, who came from a long line of rabbis and moved to Pittsburgh at the turn of the 20th century. Grodin has an older brother, Jack.[4]

Grodin attended the University of Miami, and left without graduating to pursue acting.[5]


Early career-1950s/1960s[edit]

Grodin's film debut was an uncredited bit part in Disney's 1954 film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.[citation needed] A student of Lee Strasberg and Uta Hagen, he made his Broadway debut in a production of Tchin-Tchin, opposite Anthony Quinn.[6] In 1965, he began working as an assistant to director Gene Saks and began appearing on several television series during the 1960s including The Virginian.[citation needed]

Grodin had a small part playing an obstetrician in the 1968 horror film, Rosemary's Baby. In 1964 he played Matt Stevens on the ABC soap opera the Young Marrieds.[7] During the late 1960s, he also co-wrote and directed Hooray! It's a Glorious Day...and All That, a Broadway play, and directed Lovers and Other Strangers and Thieves, also on Broadway.[citation needed] He also directed Simon and Garfunkel's television special Songs of America in 1969.

1970s & 1980s film work[edit]

After a supporting role in the 1970 comedy film Catch-22, Grodin gained recognition as a comedy actor when he played the lead role in the 1972 film The Heartbreak Kid. Grodin subsequently appeared in several 1970s films, including 11 Harrowhouse in 1974, the 1976 version of King Kong and the hit 1978 comedy Heaven Can Wait. During this period, he also frequently appeared on Broadway and was involved in producing several plays. One of these, Thieves, he also directed.[citation needed]

In 1981, he landed in a role in The Great Muppet Caper playing Nicky Holiday, a jewel thief who falls in love with Miss Piggy. He also appeared that same year opposite Lily Tomlin in The Incredible Shrinking Woman. His 1980s roles included Neil Simon's Seems Like Old Times (opposite Chevy Chase and Goldie Hawn) and 1988's well-reviewed comedy Midnight Run, a buddy movie co-starring Robert De Niro. Grodin also appeared in the 1986 CBS mini-series sendup Fresno, playing the evil son of a raisin matriarch (Carol Burnett).

His Hollywood film roles of the 1980s usually saw him cast as uptight, bland and world-weary white collar professionals, such as a psychiatrist having a nervous breakdown (The Couch Trip), a health conscious accountant (Midnight Run), an ineffectual advertising executive (Taking Care of Business) and a lonely socially awkward nerd The Lonely Guy. He was cast against this type as a scheming CIA agent in Ishtar. Commenting on his work with regard to Ishtar, Hal Hinson in the Washington Post observed: "Grodin has a one-of-a-kind quality on the screen, a sort of inspired spinelessness. And with his cat-burglar rhythms – he seems to play all his scenes as if someone were asleep in the next room – he's become a very sly scene-stealer."[8] Sandra Brennan at Rovi noted that: "Whereas many funnymen have been popular for their ability to overreact and mug their way around everyday obstacles, Grodin belonged, from the beginning, to the Bob Newhart school of wry comedy that values understatement and subtlety."[6]

Aside from his film work, he was a frequent presence on television. In 1977, Grodin hosted an episode of the NBC sketch show, Saturday Night Live, where the entire episode revolved around his forgetting that the show was live, and he proceeded to wreck sketches because of his failure to prepare accordingly.[citation needed] His many talk show appearances from the 1970s to the present have often included confrontational and mock angry segments. At one time Johnny Carson "banned" him from The Tonight Show appearances after taking offense at things Grodin had said. The NBC network would receive angry letters from viewers who didn't understand the joke, that he was playing a persona, trying to be as different from typical talk show guests as possible. His appearances on Late Night With David Letterman would sometimes erupt into shouting and name-calling, but Letterman always enjoyed Grodin's segments.

1990s and recent return to film[edit]

Grodin's career took a turn in 1992, when he played the nervous family man George Newton in the kids' comedy Beethoven opposite Bonnie Hunt. The film was a box-office hit, and he reprised the role in the 1993 sequel. After a supporting role in the acclaimed comedy Dave in 1993, his next film role was in 1994's It Runs in the Family (a.k.a. My Summer Story), which received only a limited release and was a sequel to the film A Christmas Story. Grodin portrayed the frustrated uncle, alongside Martin Short in the 1994 comedy Clifford. After a 12-year long hiatus from film, Grodin returned to acting in the Zach Braff comedy The Ex (2006).[9]

Recently, Grodin has been making more frequent acting appearances. After guest starring on television shows such as The Michael J. Fox Show, Grodin has several upcoming supporting roles in films, including Noah Baumbach's While We're Young and Barry Levinson's The Humbling.

Radio talk show host[edit]

From 1995 to 1998, Grodin hosted his own issues-oriented talk show, The Charles Grodin Show, on CNBC and, starting in 2000, became a political commentator for 60 Minutes II. In 2004, Grodin wrote The Right Kind of People, an Off-Broadway play about co-op boards in certain buildings in Manhattan. Grodin's commentaries continue to be heard on New York City radio station WCBS and other affiliates of the CBS Radio Network, as well as on the CBS Radio Network's Weekend Roundup. He is also a best-selling author; his works include It Would Be So Nice If You Weren't Here, Just When I Thought I'd Heard Everything: Humorous Observations on Life in America and How I Get Through Life. His book, If I Only Knew Then...Learning from Our Mistakes was released in November 2007 by Springboard Press. It is a collection of essays from his famous friends (and friends of friends), with all author proceeds going to the Help USA charity. His book How I Got To Be Whoever It Is I Am came out in April 2009.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Grodin has two children: daughter Marion (a comedian), from his marriage to Julie Ferguson, and son, Nicholas, from his marriage to Elissa Durwood.[10][11][12] For a while in the 2000s, Grodin gave up show business to be a stay-at-home dad to his son.[13]


YearAwardFilm / ProgramRole / creditWon / nominated (W/N)
1972Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or ComedyThe Heartbreak KidLenny CantrowN
1978Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy ProgramThe Paul Simon Specialwriting creditW
1988Valladolid International Film Festival Award for Best ActorMidnight RunJonathan MardukasW
1993Saturn Award for Best Supporting ActorHeart and SoulsHarrison WinslowN
1993American Comedy Award for Funniest Supporting Actor in a Motion PictureDaveMurray BlumW
2006William Kunstler Award for Racial Justice[13]W


1964Sex and the College Girl
1968Rosemary's BabyDr. C.C. Hill
1970Catch-22Capt. Aarfy Aardvark
1972The Heartbreak KidLenny CantrowNominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
197411 HarrowhouseHoward R. Chesser
1976King KongFred Wilson
1977ThievesMartin Cramer
1978Heaven Can WaitTony Abbott
Just Me and YouMichael Lindsay
Real LifeWarren Yeager
1980Seems Like Old TimesDist. Atty. Ira J. Parks
It's My TurnHomer
1981The Great Muppet CaperNicky Holiday
The Incredible Shrinking WomanVance Kramer
1984The Woman in RedBuddy
The Lonely GuyWarren Evans
1985Movers & ShakersHerb Derman
1986Last ResortGeorge Lollar
1987IshtarJim Harrison
1988Midnight RunJonathan MardukasValladolid International Film Festival Award for Best Actor
You Can't Hurry LoveMr. Glerman
The Couch TripGeorge Maitlin
1989Cranium CommandLeft Brain
1990Taking Care of Business aka FilofaxSpencer Barnes
1992BeethovenGeorge Newton
1993Beethoven's 2ndGeorge Newton
Heart and SoulsHarrison WinslowNominated — Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor
So I Married an Axe MurdererCommandeered Driver
DaveMurray BlumAmerican Comedy Award for Funniest Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture
1994My Summer StoryMr. Parker (The Old Man)
CliffordMartin Daniels
2006The ExBob Kowalski
2012Law & Order: SVUBrett Forrester1 episode
2013The Michael J. Fox ShowSteve Henry1 episode
2014While We're Young
The HumblingJerry


  1. ^ Zacharek, Stephanie. "LA Weekly – Film+TV – Don't Call It a Comeback – Scott Foundas – The Essential Online Resource for Los Angeles". Retrieved 2013-05-29. 
  2. ^ "j. – The heartfelt kid". 2004-11-26. Retrieved 2013-05-29. 
  3. ^ "Charles Grodin Biography (1935–)". Retrieved 2013-05-29. 
  4. ^ "Humanitarian always has been Charles Grodin's main role - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette". 2009-04-19. Retrieved 2013-05-29. 
  5. ^,2056534&dq=charles-grodin+university+of+miami&hl=en
  6. ^ a b Brennan, Sandra. "Charles Grodin Information Biography". All Charles Grodin. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  7. ^ TV Guide Guide to TV. Barnes and Noble. 2004. p. 716. ISBN 0-7607-5634-1. 
  8. ^ Hinson, Hal (15 May 1987). "Ishtar". The Washington Post. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ Strauss, Robert (1997-01-27). "Getting Serious Charles Grodin, Veteran Of Many Flaky Film Roles, Is Using His Cable Talk Show To Speak Out About Important Social Issues. ``this Is Thrilling To Me,'' He Says. -". Retrieved 2013-05-29. 
  11. ^ Marvin Glassman (2013-01-30). "Comedienne stars in 'Growing up Grodin'". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved 2013-05-29. 
  12. ^ Charles Grodin; Gotham Comedy Club. Retrieved 15 April 2012
  13. ^ a b Smith, Liz (24 May 2006). "More to M than meets the eye". Variety. 

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