Today is the 80th birthday of the actor Paul Gleason. You know him from The Breakfast Club. He has some of the most-quoted lines in the film. The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.
NAME: Paul Gleason
DATE OF BIRTH: May 4, 1939
PLACE OF BIRTH: Jersey City, NJ
DATE OF DEATH: May 27, 2006
PLACE OF DEATH: Burbank, CA
CAUSE OF DEATH: Mesothelioma
REMAINS: Buried, Westwood Memorial Park, Los Angeles, CA
BEST KNOWN FOR: American film and television actor, known for his roles on television series such as All My Children and films such as The Breakfast Club, Trading Places, and Die Hard.
Gleason was born on May 4, 1939 in Jersey City, New Jersey, the son of Eleanor (née Doyle), a registered nurse, and George L. Gleason, a restaurateur, professional boxer, iron worker, and roofing manufacturer. Gleason was raised in Miami Beach, Florida. At age 16, he ran away from home and hitchhiked across the east coast, sleeping on beaches and playing baseball. He attended North Miami High School and Florida State University where he played football. He signed a professional baseball contract with the Cleveland Indians, but played just briefly in two minor league seasons between 1959 and 1960.
During that last season, a west coast trip led to an introduction to sitcom icon Ozzie Nelson, which, in turn, led to an appearance on Ozzie and Harriet (as per Nelson’s habit of hiring athletes for guest spots on the show). Suddenly, acting was an option, and an increasingly attractive one, given Gleason’s stillborn baseball career. He moved to New York City, eventually joining The Actors Studio, where he would study for four years before moving to Los Angeles.
Gleason starred in many movies, and became well-known initially as Dr. David Thornton on All My Children, playing the role from 1976 to 1978. He guest-starred in “The Trouble with Harry” and “Fire”, two episodes of The A-Team. Gleason was known to Star Wars fans for his role as Jeremitt Towani in the 1985 made-for-TV film Ewoks: The Battle for Endor. He played the villainous Clarence Beeks, the Duke brothers’ inside trader, in the 1983 comedy Trading Places starring Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy. He also played Deputy Police Chief Dwayne T. Robinson, the blowhard police official, in Die Hard.
At 44, Gleason played Richard Vernon, the disciplinarian school assistant principal, in the seminal 1985 film The Breakfast Club. He played similar characters in the 1988 film Johnny Be Good (as a high school football coach) and on several episodes of the TV sitcom Boy Meets World (as a university dean). He directly parodied his Breakfast Club role in the 2000 A-Teens music video for “Dancing Queen” and in the 2001 comedy film Not Another Teen Movie.
Vernon: My office is right across that hall. Any monkey business is ill-advised. Any questions?
John: Yeah, I got a question. Does Barry Manilow know you raid his wardrobe?
Vernon: I’ll give you the answer to that question, Mr. Bender, next Saturday. Don’t mess with the bull, young man or you’ll get the horns.
In 2002, he appeared in episodes of Dawson’s Creek as Larry Newman, the sex-and-violence obsessed chief of a B movie studio. He appeared as a nonsensical judge in an episode of Drake & Josh. He also appeared in an episode of George Lopez as the brother of George’s boss, a crazy old drunk. In 2005, he appeared as the Sheriff in the horror film Abominable. His final appearance before his death was in an independent film called The Book of Caleb.
Gleason, in addition to his acting career, participated in many celebrity golf events each year, and was known to mingle with fans and sign autographs during these golf tournaments.
From 1971 to 1978, he was married to actress Candy Moore; they had one daughter, Shannon. From 1995 until his death, he was married to Susan Kehl; they had one daughter, Kaitlin.
Gleason died on May 27, 2006 at a Burbank, California hospital from pleural mesothelioma, a form of lung cancer connected with asbestos, which he is thought to have contracted from asbestos exposure on building sites while working for his father as a teenager. Gleason was 67 years old. He was buried near the southeast corner of the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Westwood, Los Angeles.
One West Waikiki Capt. Herzog (1996-96)
Dallas Lt. Lee Spaulding (1985)
All My Children Dr. David Thornton (1976-78)
FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
Van Wilder (4-Apr-2002)
Not Another Teen Movie (7-Dec-2001) · Richard Vernon
Red Letters (9-Jun-2000)
The Giving Tree (7-Mar-2000)
No Code of Conduct (Dec-1998) · Bagwell
Best of the Best 4: Without Warning (20-Oct-1998) · Fr. Gil
Money Talks (22-Aug-1997)
Shadow Conspiracy (25-Jan-1997)
Looking for Richard (5-Jul-1996) · Himself
There Goes My Baby (2-Sep-1994)
I Love Trouble (29-Jun-1994)
Revenge of the Nerds IV: Nerds in Love (9-May-1994) · Special Appearance
Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence (7-Jul-1993) · Hank Cooney
Boiling Point (16-Apr-1993) · Transaction Man
Wild Cactus (24-Mar-1993)
Loaded Weapon 1 (5-Feb-1993)
Running Cool (1993)
Rich Girl (3-May-1991)
Fourth Story (19-Jan-1991)
Miami Blues (20-Apr-1990)
Night Game (25-Sep-1989)
Die Hard (15-Jul-1988) · Dwayne T. Robinson
Johnny Be Good (25-Mar-1988) · Wayne Hisler
She’s Having a Baby (5-Feb-1988) · Howard
Ghost Chase (25-Jun-1987)
Forever Lulu (24-Apr-1987)
Morgan Stewart’s Coming Home (20-Feb-1987)
Ewoks: The Battle for Endor (24-Nov-1985)
The Breakfast Club (15-Feb-1985) · Richard Vernon
Trading Places (8-Jun-1983) · Clarence Beeks
Tender Mercies (4-Mar-1983) · Reporter
The Pursuit of D.B. Cooper (13-Nov-1981)
Arthur (17-Jul-1981) · Executive
Fort Apache the Bronx (6-Feb-1981)
He Knows You’re Alone (12-Sep-1980)
The Great Santini (26-Oct-1979)
Vigilante Force (9-Sep-1976) · Michael J. Loonius
Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze (7-Jul-1975)
Little Laura & Big John (May-1973)
Where Does It Hurt? (4-Jul-1972)
Private Duty Nurses (1-Sep-1971)
Winter A-Go-Go (28-Oct-1965)