Richard Dreyfus Biography


Birthday: October 29, 1947 (Scorpio)

Born In: Brooklyn, New York, United States

Richard Dreyfus is a highly acclaimed American actor who is known for playing a variety of roles in his five decades and on-going career. Coming from a non-media family, Dreyfus tryst with acting started early. He started acting at the age of fifteen and made his debut on big screen when he was 20. Unlike most of the actors who go through a troubled early phase of discovering their own talent, Dreyfus had a strong beginning. In 1973, he bagged a Golden Globe nomination for his role in the film, ‘American Grafitti’. From then on, there was no looking back for this great actor who gave one blockbuster after the other, with films like, ‘Jaws’, ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’, and ‘The Goodbye Girl’ for which won an Oscar , Golden Globe and BAFTA. Dreyfus drug addiction primarily hampered his career during the first half of the 1980s but he bounced back from the same in style. In 1986, he made a comeback with ‘Down and Out in Beverly Hills’. Since then, he has been part of several interesting projects in films, television, and theatre. He jumped to fame once again with ‘Mr Holland’s Opus’ in 1995. Recently, Dreyfus was seen in the teleseries ‘Madoff’.

Quick Facts

Also Known As: Richard Stephen Dreyfuss, Richard Stephen Dreyfus

Age: 75 Years, 75 Year Old Males


Spouse/Ex-: Svetlana Erokhin (m. 2006), Janelle Lacey (m. 1999–2005), Jeramie Rain (m. 1983–1995)

father: Norman Dreyfuss

mother: Geraldine Dreyfuss

siblings: Lorin Dreyfuss

children: Ben Dreyfuss, Emily Dreyfuss, Harry Dreyfuss

Born Country: United States

Actors American Men

Height: 5'5" (165 cm), 5'5" Males

City: Brooklyn, New York City

U.S. State: New Yorkers

More Facts

education: Beverly Hills High School

Childhood & Early Life
Richard Stephen Dreyfus was born on October 29, 1947, in Brooklyn, New York to Geraldine and Norman Dreyfus. His mother was a peace activist while his father was an attorney and restaurateur.
Dreyfus was brought up as a Jewish. Due to his father’s aversion towards New York City, the family first moved to Europe and later settled at Los Angeles. Young Dreyfus gained his early education from Beverly Hills High School.
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Dreyfus’ career as an actor began early. At the age of 15, Dreyfus made his debut for the television production, ‘In Mama’s House’. Following this, he briefly attended San Fernando Valley State College, (now California State University), for a year.
During Vietnam War, Dreyfus worked as a clerk in a Los Angeles hospital. He returned to acting, making guest appearance in television shows such as ‘Peyton Place’, ‘Gidget’, ‘That Girl’, ‘Bewitched’ and ‘The Big Valley’.
Drefus made his debut on the big screen with a small, uncredited role in the 1967 film ‘The Graduate’. Next, he featured in ‘Valley of the Dolls’ (1967) wherein he had a small role yet again.
During the late 1960s and early 1970s, Dreyfus performed on stage on Broadway, Off-Broadway, repertory, and improvisational theatre. He shared the stage with Henry Fonda, Gloria Grahame, Ron Thompson, Strother Martin, Jane Alexander, Lewis J. Stadlen, Richard X. Slattery and Pepper Martin for the play ‘The Time of Your Life’.
In 1973, Dreyfus played a significant role in the flick, ‘American Graffiti’. The movie was a major hit and had him share the screen space with Harrison Ford and Ron Howard.
In 1974, Dreyfus f played the lead role in the Canadian film, ‘The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz’. The film was positively received by the audience and the critics alike. Dreyfus acting talent was praised and appreciated.
Year 1975 was a prosperous year for Dreyfus in terms of career. He starred in the box office blockbuster, ‘Jaws’, directed by Steven Spielberg. The film was one of the top grossing films of the decade and established Dreyfus’ reputation as a star actor.
Dreyfus repeated his success story with Spielberg yet again in the 1977 flick, ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’. The film went on to become one of the biggest hits of the decade. Same year, he was seeing playing a romantic lead in ‘The Goodbye Girl’. Such was the finesse with which he played the role of a struggling actor in the film that he bagged the 1978 Academy Award for Best Actor. With this, he became the youngest actor to claim the award. His record stood for 25 years before it was broken by Adrian Brody in 2003.
Following ‘The Goodbye Girl’ success story, Dreyfus produced and starred in the movie ‘The Big Fix’ in 1978. It was around this time that Dreyfus’ addiction for cocaine began. For most of the early 1980s, he suffered from drug addiction. In 1982, he was arrested for possession of drugs. His films of this period were major duds at the box-office.
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Around mid-1980s, Dreyfus entered rehabilitation. He made his comeback with the 1986 Paul Mazursky's film, ‘Down and Out in Beverly Hills’, starring alongside Bette Midler and Nick Nolte. Same year, he capped the role of narrator Gordie LaChance in Rob Reiner’s ‘Stand By Me’, a coming-of-age comedy-drama adapted from Stephen King’s novella ‘The Body’.
In 1987, Dreyfus starred in the films, ‘Stakeout’, ‘Nuts’ and ‘Tin Men’. Following year, he once again united with director Paul Mazursky for the romantic comedy ‘Moon Over Parador’.
In the second innings of his career, Dreyfus established himself as an engaging lead actor. In 1989, he reunited with Steven Spielberg for the film, ‘Always’ co-starring with Holly Hunter. The film was a remake of ‘A Guy Named Joe’.
He started the decade of 1990s with the films, ‘Postcards from the Edge’ and Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead’. In 1991, he was a part of the ensemble cast in the rom-com, ‘Once Around’. Same year, he starred in Bill Murray’s popular comedy ‘What About Bob?’ In it, he played the role of a psychiatrist who goes crazy while treating his obsessive new patient. He ended the year with the film, ‘Prisoner of Honor’ which he produced and starred in.
In 1994, he was one of the participants of the historic Papal Concert commemorating the Shoah at the Vatican amidst 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.
Year 1995 was a big year for Dreyfus in terms of career. He started the year with a supporting role in ‘The American President’ but ended it on a handsome note as Glenn Holland in ‘Mr. Holland's Opus’. His role of a determined and inspiring musical teacher to a deaf son earned him nomination for Best Actor in both Academy and Golden Globe Awards.
Beginning 2000, he appeared in several films, including ‘The Crew’, ‘The Old Man Who Read Love Stories’, ‘Who Is Cletis Tout?’ and ‘Silver City’.
He featured as one of the survivors in the 2006 film, ‘Poseidon’. In 2008, he played the character of U.S Vice President Dick Cheney in Oliver Stone's George W. Bush’s biopic ‘W’.
In 2010, he made a cameo appearance in ‘Piranha 3D’ as Matt Hooper. Same year, he also starred in the film, ‘RED’. In 2015, he was seen playing the role of George Hiller in the film, ‘Zipper’.
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In 2016, Dreyfus portrayed the role of Bernie Madoff in the miniseries ‘Madoff’ co-starring Blythe Danner.
In addition to films, theatre and television, Dreyfus made his presence felt in literary world too with his book, ‘The Two Georges’, which he co-authored with science-fiction writer Harry Turtledove.
Major Works
Dreyfus most promising work as an actor came in 1977 with the film, ‘The Goodbye Girl’. A romantic film, it had him play the character of an out-of-work actor Elliot Garfield. Dreyfus’ spellbinding performance earned him an Academy, BAFTA and Golden Globe award. Dreyfus became the youngest actor to receive an Academy, a record which he held for 25 years before it was broken by Adrian Brody in 2003.
In 1995, Dreyfus capped the role of Glenn Holland, a determined and inspiring musical teacher who aims to compose one great piece of music, in ‘Mr. Holland's Opus’. The authenticity that he imparted to the character and the magnificence that he showed on screen earned him nomination for Best Actor in both Academy and Golden Globe Awards.
Awards & Achievements
In 1977, he won an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, a BAFTA and a Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award in Best Actor category for the film ‘The Goodbye Girl’.
In 2002, he won the Satellite Awards in Best Actor for Miniseries or Television Film category for his performance in ‘The Day Reagan Was Shot’.
In 2010, he won the Ride of Fame Award for his outstanding achievements as an actor.
In 2011, he was presented with the Saturn Award for Best Guest Starring Role on Television for ‘Weeds’.
Dreyfus has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7021 Hollywood Blvd.

Personal Life & Legacy
Dreyfus has married thrice till date. His first was marriage to Jeramie Rain in early 1980s. The couple was blessed with three children, Emily, Benjamin and Harry. They separated in 1995.
In 1999, Dreyfus married Janelle Lacey but the two divorced in 2005.
In 2006, he married Russian-born Svetlana Erokhin and since then the couple lives in San Diego.
Dreyfus initiated the Dreyfus Civics Initiative which aims to revive civic education in order to teach future generations about the power of their citizenship and the principles that hold America together. It is a non-profit and pre-partisan organization that advocates teaching of civics in United States classrooms.

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