Paul Gleason

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Paul Gleason
Paul Gleason Breakfast Club.jpg
Gleason as Richard Vernon in The Breakfast Club (1985)
BornPaul Xavier Gleason
(1939-05-04)May 4, 1939
Jersey City, New Jersey, U.S.[1]
DiedMay 27, 2006(2006-05-27) (aged 67)
Burbank, California, U.S.
Cause of death
Lung Cancer (Mesothelioma)[2]
Years active1965–2006
Spouse(s)Candy Moore
(m. 1971-1978; divorced)
Susan Kehl
(m. 1995-2006; his death)
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For the American Olympic tennis player, see Paul Gleeson (tennis).
Paul Gleason
Paul Gleason Breakfast Club.jpg
Gleason as Richard Vernon in The Breakfast Club (1985)
BornPaul Xavier Gleason
(1939-05-04)May 4, 1939
Jersey City, New Jersey, U.S.[1]
DiedMay 27, 2006(2006-05-27) (aged 67)
Burbank, California, U.S.
Cause of death
Lung Cancer (Mesothelioma)[2]
Years active1965–2006
Spouse(s)Candy Moore
(m. 1971-1978; divorced)
Susan Kehl
(m. 1995-2006; his death)

Paul Xavier Gleason (May 4, 1939 – May 27, 2006) was an American film and television actor, known for his roles on television series such as All My Children and films such as The Breakfast Club, Trading Places, and Die Hard.

Early life[edit]

Gleason was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, the son of Eleanor (née Doyle), a registered nurse, and George L. Gleason, a restaurateur, professional boxer, iron worker, and roofing manufacturer.[1] Gleason was raised in Uleta, Florida. At age 16, he ran away from home and hitchhiked across the east coast, sleeping on beaches and playing baseball.[2] He attended North Miami Beach High School and Florida State University where he played football. He signed a professional baseball contract with the Cleveland Indians, but played just briefly in two minor league seasons between 1959 and 1960.[3]

During that last season, a west coast trip led to an introduction to sitcom icon Ozzie Nelson, which, in turn, led to an appearance on Ozzie and Harriet (as per Nelson's habit of hiring athletes for guest spots on the show). Suddenly, acting was an option, and an increasingly attractive one, given Gleason's stillborn baseball career. He moved to New York City, eventually joining The Actors Studio,[4][5] where he would study for four years before moving to Los Angeles.[6]


Gleason starred in many movies, and became well-known initially as Dr. David Thornton on All My Children, playing the role from 1976 to 1978. He guest-starred in "The Trouble with Harry" and "Fire", two episodes of The A-Team. Gleason was known to Star Wars fans for his role as Jeremitt Towani in the 1985 made-for-TV film Ewoks: The Battle for Endor. He played the villainous Clarence Beeks, the Duke brothers' inside trader, in the 1983 comedy Trading Places starring Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy. He also played Deputy Police Chief Dwayne T. Robinson, the blowhard police official in Die Hard.

He is perhaps best remembered for his role as Richard Vernon, the gruff disciplinarian in the seminal 1985 film The Breakfast Club. He played similar characters several times, including on the television situation comedy Boy Meets World, in the films Johnny Be Good and Not Another Teen Movie, and in an A-Teens music video.

In 2002, he appeared in episodes of Dawson's Creek as Larry Newman, the sex-and-violence obsessed chief of a B movie studio.

He appeared as a nonsensical judge in an episode of Drake and Josh. He also appeared in an episode of George Lopez as the brother of George's boss, a crazy old drunk. His final appearance before his death was in an independent film called The Book of Caleb.

Personal life[edit]

Gleason, in addition to his acting career, participated in many celebrity golf events each year, and was known to mingle with fans and sign autographs during these golf tournaments. He was married to Susan Kehl and is survived by his wife, two daughters, Shannon and Kaitlin, and one granddaughter, Sofia.[citation needed]


Gleason died on May 27, 2006 at a Burbank, California hospital from pleural mesothelioma, a form of lung cancer connected with asbestos, which he is thought to have contracted from asbestos exposure on building sites while working for his father as a teenager. Gleason was 67 years old.[2] He was buried near the southeast corner of the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Westwood, Los Angeles.

Film and television credits[edit]

1962Panic in Year Zero!Gas Station OwnerActing and Film Debut; Uncredited
1965Winter A-Go-GoSki Resort Guest

It's About Time

ManTelevision Debut; One Episode
The Green HornetPaul GarrettTelevision; One Episode
C'mon, Let's Live a LittleFrat BoyUncredited
The InvadersAlienTelevision; One Episode
1968The F.B.I.Officer Dan RyanTelevision; One Episode
1969Then Came BronsonDeputyTelevision; One Episode
1971Private Duty NursesDr. McClintock
Adam-12SmittyTelevision; One Episode
1972Where Does It Hurt?Role Unspecified
Mission: ImpossibleBlairTelevision; One Episode
BanacekBorder GuardTelevision; One Episode
Adam-12Patrolman ArnoldTelevision; One Episode
Hit ManCopUncredited
Adam-12Instructor Chuck WilliamsTelevision One Episode
1973Little Laura and Big JohnSheriff
1974Adam-12John SuntorTelevision; One Episode; As Paul Xavier Gleason
1975Doc Savage: The Man of BronzeMaj. Thomas J. "Long Tom" Roberts
ColumboParsonsTelevision; One Episode
1976Vigilante ForceMichael J. LooniusAs Paul X Gleason
1976-78All My ChildrenDr. David ThorntonTelevision
1979Women at West PointMajor James T. KirkTV Movie
IkeCapt. Ernest "Tex" LeeTelevision Miniseries
The Great SantiniLt. Sammy
1980Ike: The War YearsCapt. Ernest "Tex" LeeTV Movie
He Knows You're AloneDet. Frank Daley
1981Fort Apache the BronxDetective
The Pursuit of D.B. CooperRemson
Another LifeLee Carothers #1Television
1982MysteryDisc: Murder, Anyone?Stewart CavanaughDirect-to-Video Film
1983MysteryDisc: Many Roads to MurderDirect-to-Video Film
Tender MerciesReporter
Trading PlacesClarence Beeks
1984The A-TeamRoy Kelsey
Scarecrow and Mrs. KingEdson BallonTelevision; One Episode
Remington SteeleSheriff Jeff 'Jed' NebbinsTelevision; One Episode
Cagney & LaceyDetective CrespiTelevision; One Episode
Call to GloryMarty ColbyTelevision; One Episode
Hardcastle and McCormickJack FishTelevision; One Episode
RiptideDetective Commander Phillip Hallins EverittTelevision; Two Episodes
Hill Street BluesBiff LoweTelevision; Two Episodes
Magnum, P.I.Ronnie Meeder AKA Jacques ArnotTelevision; One Episode
1985DoubletakeHowie HenleyTV Movie
The Breakfast ClubPrincipal Richard Vernon
Challenge of a LifetimeJohn SchoonoverTV Movie
DallasLt. Lee SpauldingTelevision; Three Episodes
Anything for LoveLarry WorthTV Movie
Ewoks: The Battle for EndorJeremittTV Movie
1986Superior CourtAttorneyTelevision
Kate & AllieTom FitzgeraldTelevision; One Episode
The A-TeamHarry SullivanTelevision; One Episode
Miami ViceBunny BerriganTelevision; One Episode
Gimme a Break!Mr. KimballTelevision; One Episode
The EqualizerGreenleafTelevision; One Episode
1987Hollywood-MonsterStan Gordon
Beauty and the BeastHenry DuttonTelevision; One Episode
Forever, LuluRobert
Falcon CrestAndy StrykerTelevision; One Episode
SidekicksFargoTelevision; One Episode
Morgan Stewart's Coming HomeJay Le Soto
1988Die HardDeputy Police Chief Dwayne T Robinson
Johnny Be GoodWayne Hisler
She's Having a BabyHoward
198921 Jump StreetPhil DanielsTelevision; One Episode
1990Miami BluesSgt. Frank Lackley
1991Rich GirlMarvin Wells
1994I Love TroubleKenny Bacon
SeinfeldCushmanTelevision; One Episode
1994-1996One West Waikikirecurring role
1997Money TalksLt. Bobby Pickett
1997NewsRadioSteve JohnsonTelevision; One Episode (4x03, The Public Domain)
1997Boy Meets WorldDean BorakTelevision; Two Episodes
1999Nash BridgesMicky Tripp (Radio DJ)Television; One Episode (4x10, Hardball)
2001Not Another Teen MoviePrincipal Richard "Dick" Vernon
2002National Lampoon's Van WilderProfessor McDougal
2006Drake and JoshMr. Thompson


  1. ^ a b c "Paul Gleason Biography (1939-)". Film Reference. Advameg, Inc. Retrieved 15 June 2014. Full name, Paul Xavier Gleason; born May 4, 1939, in Jersey City, NJ; died May 27, 2006, in Burbank, CA; son of George L. (a professional boxer, iron worker, restaurateur, and roofing manufacturer) and Eleanor (a registered nurse;maiden name, Doyle) Gleason; married Candy Moore, March 15, 1971 (divorced, 1978); married Joanna Hall (an actress; divorced); children: (first marriage)Shannon, Kaitlin; (second marriage) one son. 
  2. ^ a b c "Paul Gleason". The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group Limited. 30 May 2006. Retrieved 15 June 2014. Paul Gleason, who died on Saturday aged 67, was an actor best known for his roles as a corrupt FBI agent in the comedy Trading Places, as a bumptious high school principal in the "brat pack" movie The Breakfast Club and as a pompous police chief in the action picture Die Hard. Although he trained as an actor with Lee Strasberg, the father of the Method school, most of Gleason's roles were in such lightweight fare. He was a fixture on the American soap opera All My Children, and popped up regularly on popular comedies such as Malcolm in the Middle, Friends and Seinfeld. Gleason's forte was playing pompous authority figures, usually those who insist on a course of action later proved spectacularly wrong-headed. 
  3. ^ "Paul Gleason Statistics and History". Retrieved 2010-08-18. 
  4. ^ Anderson, Jack E. (10 September 1976). "One Of 'Children' Takes Off". The St. Petersburg Evening Independent (Miami: Knight Newspapers). p. 12-B. Retrieved 15 June 2014. At least one of “All My Children,” the much followed ABC soap opera, drifted away from the dramatic fold last week. Paul Gleason, who plays the embittered and introspective David Thronton on the series, stole away for a long delayed holiday in Miami Beach. It was also a homecoming for Paul because he was born and reared in North Miami Beach — and an actor can emote just so long in a role as demanding as Thornton’s before he has to take a break. “I thought it would be good for me to lie in the sun and see my family.” As AMC fans know, Thornton has been through the mill lately. It’s not bad enough he’s haunted by his experiences as a doctor in Vietnam where his brother died on the operating table because there were not enough medical supplies, but now he has fallen in love wilth[sic] a married woman, Ruth what’s-her-name (Mary Fickett), the only character in the story who knows Thornton, working as a medical aide in Pinewood hospital, was once a doctor. That kind of complication (puff, puff) can get on an actor’s nerves. 
  5. ^ Garfield, David (1980). "Appendix: Life Members of The Actors Studio as of January 1980". A Player's Place: The Story of The Actors Studio. New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc. p. 278. ISBN 0-02-542650-8. 
  6. ^ Woods, Sherri (29 November 1975). "Paul Gleason: Miamian Stars as Soaps' Newest Angry Young Man". The Miami News. p. 15. Retrieved 15 June 2014. 

Further reading[edit]

Voisin, Scott, "Character Kings: Hollywood's Familiar Faces Discuss the Art & Business of Acting." BearManor Media, 2009. ISBN 978-1-59393-342-5.

External links[edit]