Richard Dreyfuss

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Richard Dreyfuss
Richard Dreyfuss Cannes 2013.jpg
BornRichard Stephen Dreyfus[1]
(1947-10-29) October 29, 1947 (age 66)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Years active1964–present
Spouse(s)Jeramie Rain
Janelle Lacey
Svetlana Erokhin
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Richard Dreyfuss
Richard Dreyfuss Cannes 2013.jpg
BornRichard Stephen Dreyfus[1]
(1947-10-29) October 29, 1947 (age 66)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Years active1964–present
Spouse(s)Jeramie Rain
Janelle Lacey
Svetlana Erokhin

Richard Stephen Dreyfuss (born October 29, 1947) is an American actor best known for starring in a number of film, television, and theater roles since the late 1960s, including the films American Graffiti, Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and The Goodbye Girl.

Dreyfuss won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1978 for The Goodbye Girl (1977), and was nominated in 1995 for Mr. Holland's Opus. He has also won a Golden Globe Award, a BAFTA Award, and was nominated in 2002 for Screen Actors Guild Awards in the Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series and Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries categories.

Early life[edit]

Dreyfuss was born Richard Stephen Dreyfus[1] in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Norman, an attorney and restaurateur, and Geraldine, a peace activist,[2] and was raised in Bayside, Queens.[3] Dreyfuss is Jewish.[4][5] He has commented that he "grew up thinking that Alfred Dreyfus and [he] are of the same family."[6] His father disliked New York City, and moved the family first to Europe, and later to Los Angeles, when Dreyfuss was nine.[7][8] Dreyfuss attended Beverly Hills High School.[8]


Dreyfuss began acting during his youth, at Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills Arts Center and Westside Jewish Community Center under drama teacher Bill Miller.[8][9] He debuted in the TV production In Mama's House, when he was fifteen. He attended San Fernando Valley State College, now California State University, Northridge, for a year, and was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War, working in alternate service for two years, as a clerk in a Los Angeles hospital. During this time, he acted in a few small TV roles on shows, Peyton Place, Gidget, That Girl, Bewitched, and The Big Valley. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, he also performed on stage on Broadway, Off-Broadway, repertory, and improvisational theater.

Dreyfuss appeared alongside Henry Fonda, Gloria Grahame, Ron Thompson,[10] Strother Martin, Jane Alexander, Lewis J. Stadlen, Richard X. Slattery and Pepper Martin in the play The Time of Your Life, which was revived on March 17, 1972 at the Huntington Hartford Theater in Los Angeles, and directed by Edwin Sherin.[11][12]

Dreyfuss's first film role was a small, uncredited role in The Graduate. He had one line, "Shall I get the cops? I'll get the cops". He was also briefly seen as a stage hand in Valley of the Dolls (1967), in which he had a few lines. He appeared in the subsequent Dillinger, and landed a role in the 1973 hit American Graffiti, acting with other future stars such as Harrison Ford and Ron Howard.[8] Dreyfuss played his first lead role in the Canadian film The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (1974), receiving positive reviews, including praise from Pauline Kael.[8]

Dreyfuss went on to star in the box office blockbusters Jaws (1975) and Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), both directed by Steven Spielberg. He won the 1978 Academy Award for Best Actor at the 50th Academy Awards ceremony for his portrayal of a struggling actor in The Goodbye Girl (1977), becoming the youngest actor to do so (at the age of 30 years, 125 days old), besting Marlon Brando, who had won his first Oscar in 1955 at the age of 30 years 360 days old.[8] This record stood for 25 years until it was broken in 2003 by Adrien Brody, who was three weeks shy of age 30 at the time of the 75th Academy Awards ceremony.

Around 1978, Dreyfuss began using cocaine frequently; his addiction came to a head four years later in 1982, when he was arrested for possession of the drug after he blacked out while driving, and his car struck a tree.[8][13] He entered rehabilitation and eventually made a Hollywood comeback with the films Down And Out In Beverly Hills in 1986[8] and Stakeout the following year. Dreyfuss also starred in the Rob Reiner movie, Stand by Me, a 1986 American coming-of-age drama/comedy film adapted from Stephen King's novella The Body. Dreyfuss plays the elder Gordie Lachance, who narrates the film. In 1988, he reunited with director Paul Mazursky to star in the political farce Moon Over Parador.

Dreyfuss (left) and Allan Carr at the Governor's Ball party after the 1989 Academy Awards.

In 1989, Dreyfuss reunited with Spielberg on Always, a remake of A Guy Named Joe in which he co-starred with Holly Hunter. He had a starring role opposite Bill Murray in the 1991 comedy What About Bob?, as a psychiatrist who goes crazy while trying to cope with a particularly obsessive new patient. That same year, Dreyfuss produced and starred as Georges Picquart in Prisoner of Honor, an HBO movie about the historical Dreyfus Affair.

In 1994, he participated in the historic Papal Concert to Commemorate the Shoah at the Vatican in the presence of Pope John Paul II, Rav Elio Toaf, chief rabbi of Rome, and Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, President of the Italian Republic. He recited Kaddish as part of a performance of Leonard Bernstein's Third Symphony with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Gilbert Levine. The event was broadcast worldwide.

Dreyfuss was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe for his performance as Glenn Holland in Mr. Holland's Opus (1995).[8] Since then, he has continued working in the movies, television and the stage. In 2001/2002, he played Max Bickford in the television drama The Education of Max Bickford. In April 2004, he appeared in the revival of Sly Fox on Broadway (opposite Eric Stoltz, René Auberjonois, Bronson Pinchot and Elizabeth Berkley).

Dreyfuss recorded the voiceover to the Apple, Inc., then Apple Computer, Inc., "Think Different" ad campaign in 1997.[14]

In November 2004, he was scheduled to appear in The Producers in London, but withdrew from the production a week before opening night. The media noted that Dreyfuss was still suffering from problems relating to an operation for a herniated disc in January, and that the part of Max Bialystock in the play is a physically demanding one. Both he and his assistant for the production stated that Dreyfuss was accumulating injuries that required him to wear physical therapy supports during rehearsals.[15] Dreyfuss was eventually fired from the production, though he would return in 2008.[16]

In 2006, he appeared as one of the survivors in the 2006 film Poseidon. Dreyfuss portrayed U.S Vice President Dick Cheney in Oliver Stone's 2008 George W. Bush bio-pic W.[17]

Dreyfuss at the Big Apple Convention, June 8, 2008.

In early 2009, he appeared in the play Complicit (directed by Kevin Spacey) in London's Old Vic theatre. His participation in the play was subject to much controversy, owing to his use of an earpiece on stage, reportedly because of his inability to learn his lines in time.[18][19] He guest-voiced as himself in the "Three Kings" episode of Family Guy in 2009, and later appeared again in the episode "Peter-assment". Dreyfuss has guest starred in the sixth season of Weeds as Warren Schiff, Nancy's high school teacher to whom she had lost her virginity.[20]

Also in 2009, he portrayed the Biblical figure Moses in the Thomas Nelson audiobook production Word of Promise: Complete Audio Bible.

Dreyfuss has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7021 Hollywood Blvd.[21]

Dreyfuss was among 99 other stars at the 2012 Academy Awards - Night of 100 Stars. He did an interview for the Bill Zucker Show with actor/singer Bill Zucker.[22]

Other work[edit]


Dreyfuss has been outspoken on the issue of how the media influences the shaping of public opinion, policy, and legislation. In the 2000s, he expressed his sentiments in favor of right to privacy, freedom of speech, democracy, and individual accountability.[23]

Dreyfuss has organized and promoted campaigns to inform and instruct audiences in what he considers potential erosion of individual rights, a personal initiative he began in 2006, responding to what he believes were violations of individual rights under the presidential administration of George W. Bush.[24] On February 16, 2006, Dreyfuss spoke at The National Press Club in Washington, D.C. in hopes of prompting national discussion on impeachment charges against U.S. President George W. Bush.[25] On November 17, 2006, Dreyfuss appeared on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher as a panel member to discuss teaching civics in schools.[26] Dreyfuss formerly served on the Board of Trustees of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.[27] In 2007, Dreyfuss appeared in the youth voting documentary film 18 in '08.[28] Dreyfuss publicly endorsed Jonathan Tasini's campaign for Charles Rangel's congressional seat in the 15th District of New York in 2010.


Dreyfuss is involved in a nationwide enterprise to encourage the teaching of American history in American primary schools. He is a Senior Associate Member of St. Antony's College, University of Oxford.[29]


In 1995, Dreyfuss co-authored with science-fiction writer Harry Turtledove the novel The Two Georges, an alternate history/mystery piece set in the year 1996 of an alternate timeline where the American Revolution was peacefully avoided. The Gainsborough painting of George Washington and King George III, which symbolizes English-speaking North Americans' loyalty to the British Empire, is stolen by anti-Imperial terrorists, and officers of the Royal North American Mounted Police must find it before it is destroyed.

Personal life[edit]

Dreyfuss married writer-producer Jeramie Rain in the early 1980s. With her, he had three children: Emily (1983), Benjamin (1986) and Harry (1990). His elder son, Benjamin, was born with Peters Anomaly, a rare genetic eye disorder which, after many operations, left him blind in his left eye. Dreyfuss and Rain have continued to raise money for ophthalmology centers throughout the United States. After his 1995 divorce from Rain, Dreyfuss then married Janelle Lacey in 1999 but they divorced in 2005.[30]

Dreyfuss' mother died on October 19, 2000, due to complications from a stroke.[31]

Dreyfuss suffers from bipolar disorder. In 2006, he appeared in Stephen Fry's documentary, Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive, in which Fry (who also has the disorder) interviewed him about his life and use of lithium since the 1970s.[32]

Dreyfuss and Russian-born Svetlana Erokhin married in 2006 and have lived in San Diego since then, although they frequently visit New York City and London, where Dreyfuss once lived. They lived in Carlsbad, California. In February 2008, they bought a $1.5 million house in the rural community of Olivenhain in eastern Encinitas, California, and plan to renovate the 1970s structure with state-of-the-art green technologies.[33]


1966BewitchedRodneyTV series 1 episode
1966GidgetDurf the DragTV series 1 episode
1967Valley of the DollsAssistant stage managerUncredited
1967The GraduateBoarding House ResidentUncredited
1967The Big ValleyLud AkleyTV series 1 episode
1968The Young RunawaysTerry
1969Hello Down ThereHarold Webster
1970The Mod SquadCurtis BellTV series 1 episode
1973A Touch of GraceDonaldTV series, episode "The Accident"
1973GunsmokeGearshon GorofskyThis Golden Land - Season 18, Episode 24
1973American GraffitiCurt HendersonNominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1973DillingerBaby Face Nelson
1974The Apprenticeship of Duddy KravitzDuddyNominated — New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
1974The Second Coming of SuzanneClavius
1975InsertsThe Boy Wonder
1975JawsMatt HooperNominated — BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
1976Victory at EntebbeColonel Yonatan 'Yonni' Netanyahu
1977Close Encounters of the Third KindRoy NearyNominated — Saturn Award for Best Actor
1977The Goodbye GirlElliott GarfieldAcademy Award for Best Actor
BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
David di Donatello Award for Best Foreign Actor
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
1978The Big FixMoses WineAlso producer
1980The CompetitionPaul DietrichNominated — Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actor
1981Whose Life Is It Anyway?Ken Harrison
1984The Buddy SystemJoe
1986Down and Out in Beverly HillsDavid 'Dave' Whiteman
1986Stand by MeNarrator/Gordie LaChance (adult)
1987Tin MenBill 'BB' Babowsky
1987StakeoutDet. Chris Lecce
1987NutsAaron LevinskyNominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture
1988Moon Over ParadorJack Noah/President Alphonse Simms
1989Let It RideJay Trotter
1989AlwaysPete Sandich
1990Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are DeadThe PlayerPasinetti Award for Best Actor
1990Postcards from the EdgeDoctor Frankenthal
1991Once AroundSam SharpeAlso co-producer
1991Prisoner of HonorCol. PicquartTelevision film; also producer
1991What About Bob?Dr. Leo Marvin
1993Lost in YonkersLouie Kurnitz
1993Another StakeoutDetective Chris Lecce
1994Silent FallDr. Jake Rainer
1995The Last WordLarry
1995The American PresidentSenator Bob Rumson
1995Mr. Holland's OpusGlenn HollandNominated — Academy Award for Best Actor
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Drama
1996James and the Giant PeachCentipede (voice)
1996Mad Dog TimeVic
1997Night Falls on ManhattanSam Vigoda
1997Oliver TwistFaginTelevision film; also producer
1998Krippendorf's TribeProf. James Krippendorf
1999LanskyMeyer Lansky
2000The CrewBobby Bartellemeo/Narrator
2000Fail SafePresident of the United States
2001The Old Man Who Read Love StoriesAntonio BolivarNominated — Film Critics Circle of Australia Award for Best Actor
2001Who Is Cletis Tout?Micah Donnelly
2001The Education of Max BickfordMax BickfordTV series; also producer
Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series
2001The Day Reagan Was ShotAlexander HaigTelevision film
Satellite Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie
2003Coast to CoastBarnaby Pierce
2004Silver CityChuck Raven
2006PoseidonRichard Nelson
2007Tin ManMystic ManTV miniseries
2007Ocean of FearNarrator
2008Signs of the TimeNarrator
2008W.Dick Cheney
2008America BetrayedNarrator
2009My Life in RuinsIrv
2009Leaves of GrassPug Rothbaum
2009The LightkeepersSethAlso executive producer
2010Piranha 3DMatthew BoydCameo
2010WeedsWarren Schiff4 episodes
Saturn Award for Best Guest Starring Role on Television
2010REDAlexander Dunning
2012ComaProfessor HillsideTelevision miniseries
2013ParanoiaFrancis Cassidy
2013Cas & Dylan
2014Very Good GirlsDanny

Awards and nominations[edit]

YearAssociationCategoryNominated workResult
1974Golden Globe AwardsBest Actor – Motion Picture Musical or ComedyAmerican GraffitiNominated
1974New York Film Critics Circle AwardsBest ActorThe Apprenticeship of Duddy KravitzNominated
1976BAFTA AwardsBest Actor in a Leading RoleJawsNominated
1977Los Angeles Film Critics Association AwardsBest ActorThe Goodbye GirlWon
1978Academy AwardsBest ActorThe Goodbye GirlWon
1978Golden Globe AwardsBest Actor – Motion Picture Musical or ComedyThe Goodbye GirlWon
1978Kansas City Film Critics Circle AwardsBest ActorThe Goodbye GirlWon
1978Saturn AwardsBest ActorClose Encounters of the Third KindNominated
1979BAFTA AwardsBest Actor in a Leading RoleThe Goodbye GirlWon
1981Razzie AwardsWorst ActorThe CompetitionNominated
1988Golden Globe AwardsBest Supporting Actor – Motion PictureNutsNominated
1996Academy AwardsBest ActorMr. Holland's OpusNominated
1996Golden Globe AwardsBest Actor – Motion Picture DramaMr. Holland's OpusNominated
2002Satellite AwardsBest Actor – Miniseries or Television FilmThe Day Reagan Was ShotWon
2002Screen Actors Guild AwardsOutstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television MovieThe Day Reagan Was ShotNominated
2002Screen Actors Guild AwardsOutstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama SeriesThe Education of Max BickfordNominated
2004Film Critics Circle of AustraliaBest ActorThe Old Man Who Read Love StoriesNominated
2011Saturn AwardsBest Guest Starring Role on TelevisionWeedsWon


  1. ^ a b Usborne, David (2009-01-31). "Richard Dreyfuss: Out of the wreckage". London: The Independent. Retrieved 2009-01-31. 
  2. ^ Film biography
  3. ^ "Overview for Richard Dreyfuss". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved August 2, 2012.
  4. ^ Jacobs, Andrea. "Richard Dreyfuss at middle age: A rebellious Jew finds his own wisdom". The Jewish Advocate. March 1995.
  5. ^ Academy Award Winning Actor Richard Dreyfuss Speaks at BHCC. PR Newswire.
  6. ^ Brozan, Nadine. "Chronicle". The New York Times. 20 November 1991.
  7. ^ "Richard Dreyfuss biography and filmography". Tribute. accessed October 3, 2011.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i Stated on Inside the Actors Studio, 2000
  9. ^ Personal interview
  10. ^ J.C. Maçek III (2012-08-02). "'American Pop'... Matters: Ron Thompson, the Illustrated Man Unsung". PopMatters. 
  11. ^ "WorldCat". Retrieved 2012-01-22. 
  12. ^ "Hollywood Beat". The Afro American. 1972-04-08. Retrieved 2012-01-22. 
  13. ^ Biography
  14. ^ "Touching: Steve Jobs Voicing One Of Apple's Iconic 'Think Different' Campaign Commercials". Geekologie. October 7, 2011
  15. ^ Adam, Karla. "My musical hell". The Guardian. January 21, 2005
  16. ^ "Dreyfuss in London stage return". BBC News November 3, 2008
  17. ^ "Richard Dreyfuss is Dick Cheney". The Hollywood Reporter. May 22, 2008
  18. ^ Thompson, Warwick. "Richard Dreyfuss, Sporting Earpiece, Triumphs in New Play ". Bloomberg News. January 29, 2009
  19. ^ Burgess, Kaya; Malvern, Jack (January 29, 2009). "Wired for sound how Richard Dreyfuss remembers his lines". The Times (London). Retrieved May 22, 2010. 
  20. ^ Joyce Eng. "Richard Dreyfuss to Appear on Weeds". 
  21. ^ Hollywood Walk of Fame; Hollywood Chamber of Commerce
  22. ^ Zucker, Bill. "The 'BILL ZUCKER SHOW' takes to the Oscars Red Carpet!!" on YouTube. March 19, 2012. Retrieved October 7, 2012.
  23. ^ Zweyner, Astrid (27 April 2006). "Oscar-winner Dreyfuss campaigns against .shaped news.". Reuters.
  24. ^ The Education of Richard DreyfussBoston Globe
  25. ^ Summary and video footage of speech
  26. ^ Morris, Michele AARP Richard Dreyfuss's New 'Opus'
  27. ^ National Constitution Center – Near Independence Hall in Historic Philadelphia
  28. ^ 18 in '08 Trailer on YouTube
  29. ^ Kahn, Joseph P. (February 7, 2007). "The education of Richard Dreyfuss". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2009-01-24. 
  30. ^ Schindehette, Susan. "Risen from the Ashes, Richard Dreyfuss Faces His Family's Pain with Strength, Not Self-Pity", People March 4, 1991
  31. ^ eOnline Profile
  32. ^ Owen, Jonathan (September 17, 2006). "Stephen Fry: My battle with mental illness". The Independent.
  33. ^ Mannes, Tanya. "Earth-friendly house in works". Sign on San Diego. March 9, 2009

External links[edit]