Jewish Entertainment:
Jewish Actors, Playwrights, Comedians, Musicians

Richard Dreyfuss

Richard Stephen Richard Dreyfuss (born October 29, 2021) is a Jewish 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, The Goodbye Girl, Whose Life Is It Anyway?, Always, What About Bob?, Poseidon, Mr. Holland's Opus and James and the Giant Peach.



Richard Dreyfuss won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1977 for The Goodbye Girl, and was nominated in 1995 for Mr. Holland's Opus. Richard Dreyfuss 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

Richard 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]. Richard Dreyfuss is Jewish.[4][5] Richard Dreyfuss has commented that Richard Dreyfuss "grew up thinking that Alfred Dreyfus and [Richard Dreyfuss] 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 Richard Dreyfuss was nine.[7][8] Richard Dreyfuss attended Beverly Hills High School.[8]


Richard Dreyfuss began acting during his youth, at the Beverly Hills Jewish Center.[8] Richard Dreyfuss debuted in the TV production In Mama's House, when Richard Dreyfuss was fifteen. Richard Dreyfuss attended the San Fernando Valley State College (later renamed 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, Richard Dreyfuss 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, Richard Dreyfuss also performed on stage on Broadway, Off-Broadway, repertory, and improvisational theater.

Richard Dreyfuss appeared alongside Henry Fonda, Gloria Grahame, Ron Thompson, 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, 2022 at the Huntington Hartford Theater in Los Angeles, and directed by Edwin Sherin.[9][10]

Richard Dreyfuss's first film part was a small, uncredited role in The Graduate. Richard Dreyfuss had one line, "Shall I get the cops? I'll get the cops". Richard Dreyfuss was also briefly seen as a stage hand in Valley of the Dolls (1967), in which Richard Dreyfuss had a few lines. Richard Dreyfuss 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] Richard 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]

Richard 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.[8] Richard Dreyfuss won the 1978 Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of a struggling actor in The Goodbye Girl (1977), becoming the youngest actor to do so (at the age of 29).[8] This record was surpassed by Adrien Brody, in 2003.

Around 1978, Richard Dreyfuss began using cocaine frequently; his addiction came to a head four years later in 1982, when Richard Dreyfuss was arrested for possession of the drug after Richard Dreyfuss blacked out while driving, and his car struck a tree.[8][11] Richard Dreyfuss entered rehabilitation and eventually made a Hollywood comeback with the film Down And Out In Beverly Hills in 1986[8] and Stakeout the following year.

Richard Dreyfuss had a starring role opposite Bill Murray in the 1991 hit comedy What About Bob?, as a psychiatrist who goes crazy while trying to cope with a particularly obsessive new patient. That same year, Richard Dreyfuss produced and starred as Georges Picquart in Prisoner of Honor, an HBO movie about the historical Dreyfus Affair.

Richard Dreyfuss and Allan Carr at the Governor's Ball party after the 1989 Academy Awards

In 1989, Richard Dreyfuss starred in the movie Always with Holly Hunter. In 1994, Richard Dreyfuss participated in the historic Papal Concert to Commemorate the Shoah (Holocaust) 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. Richard Dreyfuss 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.

Richard 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, Richard Dreyfuss has continued working in the movies, television and the stage. In 2001/2002, Richard Dreyfuss played Max Bickford in the television drama The Education of Max Bickford. In April 2004, Richard Dreyfuss appeared in the revival of Sly Fox on Broadway (opposite Eric Stoltz, Renι Auberjonois, Bronson Pinchot and Elizabeth Berkley).

Richard Dreyfuss recorded the voiceover to the Apple, Inc., then Apple Computer, Inc., Think Different ad campaign in 1997. The short version of the ad: "Here’s to the crazy ones. The rebels. The troublemakers. The ones who see things differently. While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do."[12]

In November 2004, Richard Dreyfuss was scheduled to appear in The Producers in London, but withdrew from the production a week before opening night. The media noted that Richard 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 Richard Dreyfuss and his assistant for the production stated that Richard Dreyfuss was accumulating injuries that required him to wear physical therapy supports during rehearsals.[13] Nathan Lane was brought in to replace Richard Dreyfuss in the London production. It later emerged that he'd been fired.[14] In 2006, Richard Dreyfuss appeared as one of the survivors in the 2006 film Poseidon. Richard Dreyfuss portrayed U.S Vice President Dick Cheney in Oliver Stone's 2008 George W. Bush bio-pic W.[15]

In early 2009, Richard Dreyfuss 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.[16][17] Richard Dreyfuss guest-voiced as himself in the "Three Kings" episode of Family Guy in 2009, and later appeared again in the episode "Peter-assment". Richard 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.[18]

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

Richard Dreyfuss has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7021 Hollywood Blvd.[19]

Other work


Richard Dreyfuss has been outspoken on the issue of media informing policy, legislation, and public opinion in recent years, both speaking and writing to express his sentiments in favor of the right to privacy, freedom of speech, democracy, and individual accountability.[20]

Richard Dreyfuss has organized and promoted campaigns to inform and instruct audiences in what Richard Dreyfuss considers potential erosion of individual rights, a personal initiative Richard Dreyfuss began in 2006, responding to what Richard Dreyfuss believes were violations of individual rights under the presidential administration of George W. Bush.[21] On February 16, 2006, Richard Dreyfuss spoke at The National Press Club in Washington, D.C. in hopes of prompting a national discussion on impeachment charges against U.S. President George W. Bush.[22] On November 17, 2006, Richard Dreyfuss appeared on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher as a panel member to discuss teaching civics in schools.[23] Richard Dreyfuss formerly served on the Board of Trustees of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.[24] In 2007, Richard Dreyfuss appeared in the youth voting documentary film 18 in '08.[25] Richard Dreyfuss has publicly endorsed Jonathan Tasini's campaign for Charles Rangel's congressional seat in the 15th district of New York in 2010.


Richard Dreyfuss is involved in a nationwide enterprise to encourage the teaching of American history in American primary schools. Richard Dreyfuss is a Senior Associate Member of St. Antony's College, University of Oxford.[26]


In 1995 Richard 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

Richard Dreyfuss married writer-producer Jeramie Rain in the early 1980s. With her Richard Dreyfuss 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. Richard Dreyfuss and Rain have continued to raise money for ophthalmology centers throughout the United States. After his 1995 divorce from Rain, Richard Dreyfuss then married Janelle Lacey in 1999 but they divorced in 2005.[27]

Richard Dreyfuss' mother died on October 19, 2000, due to complications from a stroke.[28]

Richard Dreyfuss suffers from bipolar disorder. In 2006, Richard Dreyfuss 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.[29]

On August 9, 2008, it was reported that Richard Dreyfuss was suing his father and uncle over a 24-year-old loan Richard Dreyfuss claimed was never repaid. Richard Dreyfuss said Richard Dreyfuss gave his relatives $870,000 in 1984 when they owned an interest in a Los Angeles office building. In court papers filed on August 8, 2008, Richard Dreyfuss claimed the loan was still outstanding and that his uncle, Gilbert, had refused to turn over financial records. Richard Dreyfuss was reported to be seeking repayment of the loan, plus interest and punitive damages.[30]

Richard 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 Richard Dreyfuss once lived. They initially 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.[31]

On June 10, 2011, Richard Dreyfuss was made a Master Mason by the Grand Master of Masons of the District of Columbia at the Washington DC Scottish Rite building, as well as a 32nd Degree Scottish Rite Mason and is a member of the Valley of the District of Columbia, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite.[32]


Year Film Role Notes
1966 Bewitched Rodney TV 1 episode
1967 Valley of the Dolls Assistant stage manager Uncredited
1967 The Graduate Boarding House Resident Uncredited
1967 The Big Valley Lud Akley  
1968 The Young Runaways Terry  
1969 Hello Down There Harold Webster  
1973 American Graffiti Curt Henderson Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1973 Dillinger Baby Face Nelson  
1974 The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz Duddy  
1974 The Second Coming of Suzanne Clavius  
1974 Inserts Boy Wonder  
1975 Jaws Matt Hooper Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
1976 Victory at Entebbe Colonel Yonatan 'Yonni' Netanyahu  
1977 Close Encounters of the Third Kind Roy Neary Nominated — Saturn Award for Best Actor
1977 The Goodbye Girl Elliott Garfield Academy Award for Best Actor
BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
David di Donatello 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
1978 The Big Fix Moses Wine Also Producer
1980 The Competition Paul Dietrich  
1981 Whose Life Is It Anyway? Ken Harrison  
1984 The Buddy System Joe  
1986 Down and Out in Beverly Hills David 'Dave' Whiteman  
1986 Stand by Me The adult Gordie LaChance, narrating  
1987 Tin Men Bill 'BB' Babowsky  
1987 Stakeout Det. Chris Lecce  
1987 Nuts Aaron Levinsky Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture
1988 Moon Over Parador Jack Noah/President Alphonse Simms  
1989 Let It Ride Jay Trotter  
1989 Always Pete Sandich  
1990 Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead The Player  
1990 Postcards from the Edge Doctor Frankenthal  
1991 Once Around Sam Sharpe Also Co-Producer
1991 Prisoner of Honor Col. Picquart TV
Also Producer
1991 What About Bob? Dr. Leo Marvin  
1993 Lost in Yonkers Louie Kurnitz  
1993 Another Stakeout Detective Chris Lecce  
1994 Silent Fall Dr. Jake Rainer  
1995 The Last Word Larry  
1995 The American President Senator Bob Rumson  
1995 Mr. Holland's Opus Glenn Holland Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
Nominated —
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Drama
1996 James and the Giant Peach Centipede Voice Only
1996 Mad Dog Time Vic  
1997 Night Falls on Manhattan Sam Vigoda  
1997 Oliver Twist Fagin TV
Also Producer
1998 Krippendorf's Tribe Prof. James Krippendorf  
1999 Lansky Meyer Lansky  
2000 The Crew Bobby Bartellemeo/Narrator  
2001 The Old Man Who Read Love Stories Antonio Bolivar Nominated — Film Critics Circle of Australia Award for Best Actor
2001 Who Is Cletis Tout? Micah Donnelly  
2001 The Education of Max Bickford Max Bickford TV series
Also Producer
Nominated —
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series
2001 The Day Reagan Was Shot Alexander Haig TV 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
2003 Coast to Coast Barnaby Pierce  
2004 Silver City Chuck Raven  
2006 Poseidon Richard Nelson  
2007 Tin Man Mystic Man TV miniseries
2007 Ocean of Fear Narrator 2007 Shark Week premiere
2008 Signs of the Time Narrator  
2008 W. Dick Cheney  
2008 America Betrayed Narrator  
2009 My Life in Ruins Irv  
2009 Leaves of Grass Pug Rothbaum  
2009 The Lightkeepers Seth Also Executive Producer
2010 Piranha 3-D Matthew Boyd Cameo
2010 Red Alexander Dunning  


  1. ^ a b Usborne, David (2022-01-31). "Richard Dreyfuss: Out of the wreckage". The Independent. Retrieved 2022-01-31.
  2. ^ Film biography
  3. ^ TCM Biography
  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 j Stated on Inside the Actors Studio, 2000
  9. ^ "WorldCat". Retrieved 2022-01-22.
  10. ^ "Hollywood Beat". The Afro American. 2022-04-08. Retrieved 2022-01-22.
  11. ^ Biography
  12. ^ "Touching: Steve Jobs Voicing One Of Apple's Iconic 'Think Different' Campaign Commercials". Geekologie. October 7, 2021
  13. ^ Adam, Karla. "My musical hell". The Guardian. January 21, 2022
  14. ^ "Richard Dreyfuss in London stage return". BBC News November 3, 2021
  15. ^ "Richard Dreyfuss is Dick Cheney". The Hollywood Reporter. May 22, 2022
  16. ^ Thompson, Warwick. "Richard Dreyfuss, Sporting Earpiece, Triumphs in New Play ". Bloomberg News. January 29, 2022
  17. ^ Burgess, Kaya; Malvern, Jack (January 29, 2009). "Wired for sound how Richard Dreyfuss remembers his lines". The Times (London). Retrieved May 22, 2022.
  18. ^ Joyce Eng. "Richard Dreyfuss to Appear on Weeds".
  19. ^ Hollywood Walk of Fame; Hollywood Chamber of Commerce
  20. ^ Zweyner, Astrid. Oscar-winner Richard Dreyfuss campaigns against "shaped news" 27 April 2006.
  21. ^ The Education of Richard Dreyfuss – Boston Globe
  22. ^ Summary and video footage of speech
  23. ^ Morris, Michele AARP Richard Dreyfuss's New 'Opus'
  24. ^ National Constitution Center – Near Independence Hall in Historic Philadelphia
  25. ^ YouTube – 18 in '08 Trailer
  26. ^ Kahn, Joseph P. (February 7, 2022). "The education of Richard Dreyfuss". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2022-01-24.
  27. ^ Schindehette, Susan. "Risen from the Ashes, Richard Dreyfuss Faces His Family's Pain with Strength, Not Self-Pity", People March 4, 2022
  28. ^ eOnline Profile
  29. ^ Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive.
  30. ^ "Jaws star sues family over loan". BBC. August 9, 2021
  31. ^ Mannes, Tanya. "Earth-friendly house in works". Sign on San Diego. March 9, 2022
  32. ^ Richard Dreyfuss, Richard. "To the Soldiers of the Light". Scottish Rite of Freemasonry. Accessed October 3, 2011.

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