Dennis Haysbert Biography
Sun Sign: Gemini
Also Known As: Dennis Dexter Haysbert
Born in: San Mateo, California
Famous as: Actor
Spouse/Ex-: Elena Simms (m. 1980–1984), Lynn Griffith (m. 1989–2001)
father: Charles Whitney Haysbert, Sr.
siblings: Adam Haysbert, Al Haysbert, Charles Haysbert, Jr., Lenier Haysbert, Rita Haysbert, Stanley Haysbert
children: Charles Haysbert, Katharine Haysbert
Dennis Haysbert is a noted American actor, known for his screen presence thanks to his deep resonant voice, muscular physique and towering height. He was born with a heart defect, but excelled in sports in his childhood. Later, he recovered from his ailment and was offered a sports scholarship, but he turned it down to become an actor. It was his dying brother who had urged him to enroll in the ‘American Academy of Dramatic Arts’ in Pasadena. After graduating from there at the age of 23, Haysbert began his career on stage and soon debuted in films and television. He played several sports-related roles on screen throughout the 1980s and received his first starring roles in the early 1990s. However, he had to wait for a few more years to get his biggest break as David Palmer in the television series ‘24’. Apart from acting, he has also done many commercials, and he was the official spokesman for the Allstate Insurance Company between 2003 and 2008.
- Dennis Dexter Haysbert was born on June 2, 1954 in San Mateo, California. His father Charles Whitney Haysbert Sr. was an airline security guard and a deputy sheriff, while his mother Gladys née Minor worked as a part time house cleaner.
- He was born eighth of his parents’ nine children, having five elder brothers and two elder sisters. His siblings were called Charles, Rita, Lenier Garnet, Stanley Hershel, Adam, Ronald and Jeannette. He has a younger brother named Allen.
- As a child, Haysbert suffered from a congenital heart defect, which prevented him with playing sports. He compensated for it by acting them out with his siblings. Slowly, he developed a love for acting; and by the age of 10, he knew that he wanted to become an actor.
- By the time he reached high school, he was cured of his ailment and was allowed to play. Thereafter, he excelled in several sports, especially basketball and football. It was also the time when he was first introduced to acting.
- In 1972, Haysbert graduated from San Mateo High School and entered the ‘College of San Mateo’. He was unsure about his future plans. A talk with his terminally ill eldest brother, Charles, in 1974 made him realize that he still wanted to become an actor.
- Charles urged him to move to Los Angeles, as “Tomorrow is not promised”, a phrase that remained with Haysbert for the rest of his life. Shortly after that, he enrolled in the ‘American Academy of Dramatic Arts’ in Pasadena, graduating from there in 1977.
- Dennis Haysbert began his career on stage in 1977, playing small roles in local plays. In 1979, he debuted on television, appearing as Victor in the ‘Schools’ episode of the TV series ‘Lou Grant’. In the following year, he debuted on the big screen, appearing as Lt. Harrigan in the comedy film ‘Scoring’.
- He got his first recurring role in 1981, appearing in six episodes of the TV show ‘Code Red’. It was followed by ‘Off the Rack’ (1984-1985, seven episodes), ‘Young and the Restless’ (1986, eight episodes) and ‘Just the Ten of Us’ (1988-1989, nine episodes). Meanwhile, he played numerous small roles in films and TV series.
- Haysbert got his first major film role in 1989, appearing as Pedro Cerrano in ‘Major League’. It was followed by ‘Navy SEALs’ (1990), ‘Mr. Baseball’ (1992) and ‘Love Field’ (1992). He starred in the last-mentioned film as Paul Cater. In 1991, he worked in the television film ‘K-9000’
- Although ‘Love Field’ did not fare well at the box office due to poor publicity, he did not give up hope. Instead, he continued to build up his career by playing character roles in various movies, including ‘Major League II’ (1994), ‘Heat’ (1995), ‘Waiting to Exhale’ (1995) and ‘Absolute Power’ (1997).
- In 1999, he got a major break when he was cast as Dr. Theodore Morris in the CBS drama series ‘Now and Again’, appearing in 22 episodes until 2000. Concurrently, he continued to appear in films like ‘The Minus Man’, ‘The Thirteenth Floor’, and ‘Random Hearts’ (1999).
- Haysbert’s biggest break came in 2001 when he was cast as US Senator David Palmer in ‘24’, an action drama television series, aired on the Fox network. He appeared in 81 episodes of the show that ran until 2007. Meanwhile, he continued to work in films like ‘Ticker’ and ‘Far from Heaven’ (2002).
- Appearing as Sergeant Major Jonas Blane in 69 episodes of ‘The Unit’ (2006-2009) was one of his major work of the 2000s. Equally active on the big screen, he began voice acting in 2003 with the film ‘Sinbad, Legend of the Seven Seas’. He voiced for the roles of Major Lincoln in ‘Jarhead’ (2005) and Nelson Mandela in ‘Goodbye Bafana’ (2007).
- He appeared in 26 films in the 2010s, and his last work on the big screen was a Christian drama film entitled ‘Breakthrough’, released on April 17, 2019. He appeared as Dr. Garrett in it. His last work on television was ‘Reverie’ (2018), in which he starred as Charlie Ventana.
- Dennis Haysbert is best known for his portrayal of David Palmer in ‘24’, appearing in it in the main role for the first three seasons and in a recurring role in the next two. Although he did not win any award for his performance, he received several nominations for it.
- Dennis Haysbert married Elena Simms on 13 April 1980. The couple divorced four years later, on 17 August 1984.
- Sometime in 1989, he married actress Lynn Griffith and had two children with her: a son named Charles Haysbert and a daughter named Katherine Haysbert. The couple divorced in 2001.
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