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Charles Grodin Biography

  • Profession: Actor
  • Born: Apr 21, 1935
  • Died: Jan 1, 0001

Supporting and occasional leading
actor Charles Grodin built a successful career playing low-key, uptight, and frequently wholesome comic roles, with occasional turns as an arch-villain. Whereas many funnymen have been popular for their ability to overreact and mug their way around everyday obstacles, Grodin belonged, from the beginning, to the [[Performer~P52389~Bob Newhart~bobnewhart]] school of wry comedy that values understatement and subtlety. Grodin learned to act under the guidance of [[Performer~P68625~Lee Strasberg~leestrasberg]] and [[Performer~P29555~Uta Hagen~utahagen]] before making his 1962 Broadway debut opposite [[Performer~P107297~Anthony Quinn~anthonyquinn]] in Tchin Tchin. Two years later, Grodin made his first film appearance in [[Performer~P79078~Joseph Adler~josephadler]]'s [[Feature~V43918~Sex and the College Girl~sexandthecollegegirl]]. Though offered the leading role in The Graduate (1967), Grodin refused, thereby providing a lucky break for [[Performer~P94585~Dustin Hoffman~dustinhoffman]]. In 1968, he played a small but memorable role as a naive obstetrician in [[Feature~V42138~Rosemary's Baby~rosemarysbaby]], and then tackled another villainous role as heartless navigator Aarfy Aardvark in Mike Nichols's [[Feature~V179876~Catch-22~thecatch]].

Grodin got his big break when director and Nichols's former comedy partner [[Performer~P101817~Elaine May~elainemay]], who had been a longtime friend and mentor of the young actor, cast him in the lead of the [[Performer~P111573~Neil Simon~neilsimon]]-scripted [[Feature~V21913~The Heartbreak Kid~theheartbreakkid]] (1972), in which he played a salesman who falls in love with [[Performer~P65168~Cybill Shepherd~cybillshepherd]] during his honeymoon. Though [[Performer~P112325~Steven Spielberg~stevenspielberg]] wanted him to play the role of shark expert Matt Hooper in [[Feature~V25912~Jaws~jaws]] (1974), Grodin preferred to direct the play Thieves on Broadway instead. In 1977, Grodin signed for the leading role in the film version. He also added spice as the villain in [[Performer~P81105~Warren Beatty~warrenbeatty]] and [[Performer~P94069~Buck Henry~buckhenry]]'s remake of [[Feature~V22212~Here Comes Mr. Jordan~herecomesmrjordan]] (1941), [[Feature~V21978~Heaven Can Wait~heavencanwait]] (1978). Since then, Grodin continued as a supporting actor in such films as The Woman in Red (1984) and [[Feature~V11109~The Couch Trip~thecouchtrip]] (1987).

After receiving rave reviews starring opposite Robert De Niro in the 1988 hit comedy Midnight Run, Grodin's career began to slow down. He played the long-suffering patriarch in the first two Beethoven films and turned in a memorable performance in 1993's Dave, but by 1995 Grodin had decided to switch gears, opting to host a talk show. After The Charles Grodin Show ran for several years on CNBC, Grodin later took a gig doing Andy Rooney-esque commentary on CBS's 60 Minutes II.
~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi