Max Gail, born as Maxwell Trowbridge Gail, is an American actor, producer and activist who has been working in films and television for nearly five decades. After graduating from college, he worked as a school teacher, guidance counsellor, bar pianist and waiter. But he could not connect with his innermost feelings as a finance professional, something he did when he started acting in theatre. His journey started with small roles in both films and television series in the 1970s. He is best known for his roles as Detective Wojo in the sitcom 'Barney Miller', Chief Bromden in 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' (original stage version) and Burt Shotton in the movie '42'. His portrayal of Detective Wojo earned him the Primetime Emmy Award for two consecutive years in the Outstanding Supporting Actor category. He is still a professional actor and is playing the role of Mike Corbin in the TV series ‘General Hospital’. He also runs his production house 'Full Circle', which makes documentaries on social and political issues. His house in West Malibu is remodelled to include circular rooms and arches, completely omitting straight lines. He feels that circle is the central metaphor of spirituality.
Max Gail made his debut as Chief Bromden in 1970 in the theatre production of 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest'. It was done for the 'Little Fox Theatre' in San Francisco. Within next five years, he landed some small roles in movies, including the parts of a patrolman in 'The Priest Killer' and Tony in 'Night Moves'. He also started acting in television shows, and appeared as Albanel in 'Mr. and Mrs. Cop' and as Harry Stover in 'Harry and the Kids'.
From 1975 to 1982, Gail portrayed Detective Stan "Wojo" Wojciehowicz, his most famous character, in Danny Arnold and Theodore J. Flicker's sitcom 'Barney Miller'. He also directed a few episodes of the show. Soon after gaining fame for this role, he appeared in the TV show 'Pearl' as Sergeant Walder and Quinn Martin Productions' crime drama series 'The Streets of San Francisco' as Donald Wilton.
In the next decade, he continued impressing his audience with good performances as a taxi company's owner Harold in the movie 'D.C. Cab' and as an investigative reporter, Llewellan Farley Jr., in the TV series 'Whiz Kids' (1983). He also acted in a science fiction series named 'Quantum Leap'. He was the narrator in 'Hoxsey: The Quack Who Cured Cancer' (1987). His brilliant filmography includes 'The Outside Woman' (1989) as Billy Ballew, 'The Switch' (1993) as Judge Johnson and the monodrama 'The Babe on Broadway'.
In the 1990s, he appeared in various TV series, including the western drama 'Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman', the Canadian crime series 'Due South' and the action crime show 'Walker, Texas Ranger'. He again grabbed attention as Max Harlow in 'Normal Life' (co-starring real-life siblings Dweezil and Moon Unit Zappa). Over the next decade, he appeared in many TV shows: 'Gary Unmarried', 'Scorpion', 'Mad Men', 'NCIS', 'The Drew Carey Show' and 'Sons & Daughters'.
One of the milestones in his career was the 2013 movie '42', in which he played the role of Burt Shotton, Brooklyn Dodgers' manager. Other works included the movies 'The Frontier' (2014), 'I'll See You In My Dreams', ‘Underdog Kids’ (2015), 'September Morning', 'The Hero' (2017) and 'The Cool Kids' (2018). He has also worked in the following TV shows, 'Longmire', 'Mad Men', 'Hawaii Five-0', and 'Psych'.
Since February 5, 2018, he has been appearing as Mike Corbin on the longest running serial produced in Hollywood, 'General Hospital'. He also runs a production company called 'Full Circle', which makes documentaries on subjects, such as Agent Orange, native Americans, and issues surrounding the nuclear technology.
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Family & Personal Life
Max Gail was born on April 5, 1943 to Mary Elizabeth and Maxwell Trowbridge Gail, a businessman (office-supplies dealer) in Detroit, Michigan, USA. He was raised in Grosse Ile, Michigan. He has a twin sister Mary, who is a singer, songwriter and music teacher. He has two other sets of twin sisters and a brother who is also an actor. In his childhood days, he developed an interest in piano after seeing his father playing it. He then took lessons to learn it.
Gail got married to Nan Harris in 1989, and they have two children together, Maxwell (born in 1990) and Grace (born in 1993). However, the couple is separated. Nan's nephew Delondon (born in 1979) was also raised by them. He was previously married to Willie Bier in 1983 who died of cancer three years later. Their daughter India was born in 1984.
Before becoming an actor, Gail completed B.A. (economics) from Williams College in 1965 and M.B.A in international finance from the University of Michigan in 1969. He then worked as an instructor for the University Liggett School and also taught English and ancient history at the Grosse Pointe University School (1965 – 1967).
He underwent a bilateral knee replacement surgery in 2015 and recovered well with physical therapies and yoga.