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Bruce MacLeish Dern (born June 4, 1936) is an Academy Award nominated American film actor. He also appeared as a guest star in numerous television shows. He frequently takes roles as a character actor, often playing unstable and villainous characters. Dern appeared in more than 80 feature films and made for TV movies.

Personal life

Dern was born in Chicago, Illinoismarker, the son of Jean (née MacLeish) and John Dern. His paternal grandfather was George Henry Dern, a former Utahmarker governor and Secretary of War, and his uncle was poet Archibald MacLeish. His godfather was well-known politician Adlai Stevenson and his godmother was Eleanor Roosevelt. Dern graduated from Choate Rosemary Hall and the University of Pennsylvaniamarker. Dern is the father of actress Laura Dern (1967), whom he had with his ex-wife Diane Ladd; married 1960-1969. He married his current wife, Andrea Beckett, in 1969.


Bruce Dern first appeared on screen, for an uncredited role, in the 1960 film Wild River. He then appeared, as a guest star, in several popular 1960s television shows, including Route 66, Naked City, Sea Hunt, Surfside 6, 77 Sunset Strip, The Outer Limits, and several others. In 1964, Bruce Dern appeared in a major Alfred Hitchcock film, the psychological thriller Marnie, in a short role as the sailor seen in flashbacks about Marnie's mother. Also in 1964, he had a very small film role in flashbacks in Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte as the spectre of the lover of the young Charlotte (a role played by Bette Davis). During the next 5 years, Dern continued appearing in several popular TV war, crime and western shows, but with multiple episodes per show, as different characters, including: Wagon Train (3), The Virginian (3), Rawhide (1), 12 O'Clock High (4), The Fugitive (5), The F.B.I. (2), The Big Valley (5), Gunsmoke (4) and Bonanza (2), among others. During that period, he also appeared in several films, including The Wild Angels (1966), The War Wagon, The Trip (1967), Psych-Out (1967), Will Penny (1968), and the early Clint Eastwood film, Hang 'Em High (1968) as a rustler/murderer.

Among Dern's first 20 film roles was a part in the Sydney Pollack picture They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, in 1969. In 1972, he played in 4 films: as the enemy and killer of John Wayne's character in The Cowboys; then, in the dark sci-fi film Silent Running; next with Jack Nicholson in The King of Marvin Gardens; and also in Thumb Tripping. By 1974, he starred alongside Robert Redford and Karen Black, with a major role in the The Great Gatsby, after having been seen in over 90 TV episodes or films.

Dern is generally regarded as a character actor. He has a reputation of playing unstable and villainous characters, although his best-known role may be that of Freeman Lowell, the caretaker of Earth's last forests in Silent Running (1972). Other memorable roles include Tom Buchanan in Robert Redford's The Great Gatsby; or a psychotic blimp pilot who launches a terrorist attack at the Super Bowl in 1977's Black Sunday, and as Capt. Bob Hyde in 1978's Coming Home, for which he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

His most recent efforts include the independent movies The Astronaut Farmer and Monster, a recurring role on the HBO series Big Love, and the monster movie Swamp Devil for RHI Films New York and the Sci Fi Channel.



  1. Bruce Dern Biography (1936-)

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