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Charles Grodin

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Title: Charles Grodin  
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Subject: 1993 in film, Clifford (film), Fresno (miniseries), The Heartbreak Kid (1972 film), The Lonely Guy
Collection: 1935 Births, 20Th-Century American Male Actors, 21St-Century American Male Actors, Actors Studio Members, American Comedians, American Male Comedians, American Male Film Actors, American Male Stage Actors, American Male Television Actors, American People of Russian-Jewish Descent, American Television Talk Show Hosts, Cnbc People, Jewish American Male Actors, Jewish American Writers, Living People, Male Actors from Pennsylvania, Male Actors from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, People from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, People from Wilton, Connecticut, Primetime Emmy Award Winners, United States Navy Sailors, University of Miami Alumni
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Charles Grodin

Charles Grodin
Grodin at the Book Expo 2007 at the Javits Center
Born (1935-04-21) April 21, 1935
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Occupation Actor, author, comedian
Years active 1954–present
Spouse(s) Julie Ferguson (?–1968; divorced; 1 child)
Elissa Durwood (1985–present; 1 child)

Charles Grodin (born April 21, 1935) is an American actor, comedian, author, and former cable talk show host.

Grodin began his acting career in the 1960s appearing in John Hughes comedy franchise Beethoven.

Grodin has won several acting awards, including American Comedy Award for Funniest Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture for 1993's Dave, Best Actor at the 1988 Valladolid International Film Festival (for Midnight Run). He was nominated for Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for The Heartbreak Kid in 1972. He also shared a 1978 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program for his work on The Paul Simon Special.

In the mid-1990s, Grodin retired from acting to become a talk show host on CNBC and in 2000 a political commentator for 60 Minutes II. He has written several autobiographical and acting related works, including 1990's It Would Be So Nice If You Weren't Here: My Journey Through Show Business and 1994's We're Ready for You, Mr. Grodin. However, he has recently returned to his acting career.


  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
    • Early career-1950s/1960s 2.1
    • 1970s & 1980s film work 2.2
    • 1990s and recent return to acting 2.3
    • Radio talk show host 2.4
    • Author 2.5
  • Personal life 3
  • Awards 4
  • Filmography 5
  • Works or publications 6
    • Plays 6.1
    • Books 6.2
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

Early life

Grodin was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Orthodox Jewish parents,[1][2] Lena (née Singer), who worked in the family store and volunteered for disabled veterans, and Theodore I. Grodin, who sold wholesale supplies.[3] His maternal grandfather was an immigrant from Russia who "came from a long line of rabbis" and moved to Pittsburgh at the turn of the 20th century. Grodin has an older brother, Jack.[4]

Grodin attended the University of Miami but left without graduating to pursue acting.[5]


Early career-1950s/1960s

Grodin's film debut was an uncredited bit part in Disney's 1954 film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A student of Lee Strasberg and Uta Hagen, he made his Broadway debut in a production of Tchin-Tchin, opposite Anthony Quinn.[6] In 1965, he became an assistant to director Gene Saks and appeared on several television series including The Virginian.

Grodin had a small part playing an obstetrician in the 1968 horror film, Rosemary's Baby. In 1964, he played Matt Stevens on the ABC soap opera the Young Marrieds.[7] During the late 1960s, he also co-wrote and directed Hooray! It's a Glorious Day...and All That, a Broadway play, and directed Lovers and Other Strangers and Thieves, also on Broadway.[8] He also directed Simon and Garfunkel's television special Songs of America in 1969. However, he turned down the part of Benjamin Braddock in The Graduate because of the low salary offered by producer Lawrence Turman, although Turman assured him that the part would make him a star, as it ultimately did for Dustin Hoffman.

1970s & 1980s film work

After a supporting role in the 1970 comedy film Catch-22, Grodin gained recognition as a comedy actor when he played the lead role in the 1972 film The Heartbreak Kid. Grodin subsequently appeared in several 1970s films, including 11 Harrowhouse in 1974, the 1976 version of King Kong and the hit 1978 comedy Heaven Can Wait. During this period, he also frequently appeared on Broadway and was involved in producing several plays.

In 1981, he landed in a role in The Great Muppet Caper playing Nicky Holiday, a jewel thief who falls in love with Miss Piggy. He also appeared that same year opposite Lily Tomlin in The Incredible Shrinking Woman. His 1980s roles included Neil Simon's Seems Like Old Times (opposite Chevy Chase and Goldie Hawn) and 1988's well-reviewed comedy Midnight Run, a buddy movie co-starring Robert De Niro. Grodin also appeared in the 1986 CBS mini-series sendup Fresno, playing the evil son of a raisin matriarch (Carol Burnett).

His Hollywood film roles of the 1980s usually saw him cast as uptight, bland and world-weary white collar professionals, such as a psychiatrist having a nervous breakdown (The Couch Trip), a health conscious accountant (Midnight Run), an ineffectual advertising executive (Taking Care of Business), and a lonely, socially awkward nerd (The Lonely Guy). He was cast against this type as a scheming CIA agent in Ishtar.

Commenting on his work with regard to Ishtar, Hal Hinson in the Washington Post observed: "Grodin has a one-of-a-kind quality on the screen, a sort of inspired spinelessness. And with his cat-burglar rhythms – he seems to play all his scenes as if someone were asleep in the next room – he's become a very sly scene-stealer."[9] Sandra Brennan at Rovi noted that: "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 Bob Newhart school of wry comedy that values understatement and subtlety."[6]

Aside from his film work, he was a frequent presence on television. In 1977, Grodin hosted an episode of the Johnny Carson "banned" him from The Tonight Show appearances after taking offense at things Grodin had said. The NBC network would receive angry letters from viewers who didn't understand the joke, that he was playing a persona, trying to be as different from typical talk show guests as possible. His appearances on Late Night With David Letterman would sometimes erupt into shouting and name-calling, but Letterman always enjoyed Grodin's segments.

1990s and recent return to acting

Grodin's career took a turn in 1992, when he played the nervous family man George Newton in the kids' comedy Beethoven opposite Bonnie Hunt. The film was a box-office hit, and he reprised the role in the 1993 sequel. After a supporting role in the acclaimed comedy Dave in 1993, his next film role was in 1994's It Runs in the Family (a.k.a. My Summer Story), which received only a limited release and was a sequel to the film A Christmas Story. Grodin portrayed the frustrated uncle, alongside Martin Short, in the 1994 comedy Clifford. After a 12-year-long hiatus from film, Grodin returned to acting in the Zach Braff comedy The Ex (2006).[10]

Grodin made more frequent acting appearances in the 2010s. After guest starring on television shows such as The Michael J. Fox Show and starring in a recurring role on Louie, Grodin had several supporting roles in films, including Barry Levinson's The Humbling and Noah Baumbach's While We're Young.

Radio talk show host

From 1995 to 1998, Grodin hosted his own issues-oriented talk show, The Charles Grodin Show, on CNBC and, starting in 2000, became a political commentator for 60 Minutes II. In 2004, Grodin wrote The Right Kind of People, an Off-Broadway play about co-op boards in certain buildings in Manhattan. Grodin's commentaries continue to be heard on New York City radio station WCBS and other affiliates of the CBS Radio Network, as well as on the CBS Radio Network's Weekend Roundup.


He is also a best-selling author; his works include It Would Be So Nice If You Weren't Here, Just When I Thought I'd Heard Everything: Humorous Observations on Life in America and How I Get Through Life. His book, If I Only Knew Then...Learning from Our Mistakes was released in November 2007 by Springboard Press. It is a collection of essays from his famous friends (and friends of friends), with all author proceeds going to the Help USA charity. His book How I Got To Be Whoever It Is I Am came out in April 2009.

Personal life

Grodin has two children: daughter Marion (a comedian), from his marriage to Julie Ferguson, and son, Nicholas, from his marriage to Elissa Durwood.[11][12][13] For a period in the 2000s, Grodin gave up show business to be a stay-at-home dad to his children.[14]


Year Award Film / Program Role / credit Won / nominated (W/N)
1972 Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy The Heartbreak Kid Lenny Cantrow N
1978 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program The Paul Simon Special writing credit W
1980 Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actor Seems Like Old Times' Ira Parks N
1988 Valladolid International Film Festival Award for Best Actor Midnight Run Jonathan Mardukas W
1993 Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor Heart and Souls Harrison Winslow N
1993 American Comedy Award for Funniest Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture Dave Murray Blum W
2006 William Kunstler Award for Racial Justice[14] W


Year Film Role Notes
1964 Sex and the College Girl
1968 Rosemary's Baby Dr. C.C. Hill
1970 Catch-22 Capt. Aarfy Aardvark
1972 The Heartbreak Kid Lenny Cantrow Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1974 11 Harrowhouse Howard R. Chesser
1976 King Kong Fred Wilson
1977 Thieves Martin Cramer
1978 Heaven Can Wait Tony Abbott
Just Me and You Michael Lindsay
1979 Sunburn Jake
Real Life Warren Yeager
1980 Seems Like Old Times Dist. Atty. Ira J. Parks Nominated — Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actor
It's My Turn Homer
1981 The Great Muppet Caper Nicky Holiday
The Incredible Shrinking Woman Vance Kramer
1984 The Woman in Red Buddy
The Lonely Guy Warren Evans
1985 Movers & Shakers Herb Derman
1986 Last Resort George Lollar

1986 Fresno (1986 TV-serie) Cane Kensington

1987 Ishtar Jim Harrison
1988 The Couch Trip George Maitlin
You Can't Hurry Love Mr. Glerman
Midnight Run Jonathan Mardukas Valladolid International Film Festival Award for Best Actor
1989 Cranium Command Left Brain
1990 Taking Care of Business Spencer Barnes
1992 Beethoven George Newton
1993 Beethoven's 2nd George Newton
Heart and Souls Harrison Winslow Nominated — Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor
So I Married an Axe Murderer Commandeered Driver
Dave Murray Blum American Comedy Award for Funniest Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture
1994 My Summer Story Mr. Parker (The Old Man)
Clifford Martin Daniels
2006 The Ex Bob Kowalski
2012 Law & Order: SVU Brett Forrester 1 episode
2013 The Michael J. Fox Show Steve Henry 1 episode
2014 The Humbling Jerry
While We're Young Leslie
Louie Dr. Bigelow 4 episodes

Works or publications


  • Grodin, Charles. Price of Fame: A Play. New York: Samuel French, 1991. ISBN 978-0-573-69220-8.
  • Grodin, Charles. One of the All-Time Greats: A Comedy. New York: S. French, 1992. ISBN 978-0-573-69366-3.
  • Grodin, Charles. The Right Kind of People. New York: Samuel French, 2008. ISBN 978-0-573-65107-6.


  • Grodin, Charles. It Would Be so Nice If You Weren't Here: My Journey Through Show Business. New York: Morrow, 1989. ISBN 978-0-679-73134-4.
  • Grodin, Charles. How I Get Through Life: A Wise and Witty Guide. New York: Morrow, 1992. ISBN 978-0-688-11258-5.
  • Grodin, Charles. We're Ready for You, Mr. Grodin: Behind the Scenes at Talk Shows, Movies, and Elsewhere. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1994. ISBN 978-0-025-45795-9.
  • Grodin, Charles. I Like It Better When You're Funny: Working in Television and Other Precarious Adventures. New York: Random House, 2002. ISBN 978-0-375-50784-7.
  • Grodin, Charles. If I Only Knew Then... Learning from Our Mistakes. New York: Springboard Press, 2007. ISBN 978-0-446-58115-8.
  • Grodin, Charles. How I Got to Be Whoever It Is I Am. New York: Springboard Press, 2009. ISBN 978-0-446-51940-3.
  • Grodin, Charles. Just When I Thought I'd Heard Everything: Humorous Observations on Life in America. Santa Monica, Calif: Homina Publishing, 2013. ISBN 978-0-970-44999-3.

See also


  1. ^ Foundas, Scott (2 May 2007). "Don't Call It a Comeback".  
  2. ^ Pine, Dan (26 November 2004). "The heartfelt kid". Jewish News Weekly ( Retrieved 2014-06-13. 
  3. ^ "Charles Grodin Biography (1935–)". Retrieved 2013-05-29. 
  4. ^ Vancheri, Barbara (19 April 2009). "Humanitarian always has been Charles Grodin's main role".  
  5. ^ Grodin, Charls (5 September 1989). "Playhouse provided training ground for Grodin".  
  6. ^ a b Brennan, Sandra. "Charles Grodin Information Biography". All Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  7. ^ TV Guide Guide to TV. Barnes and Noble. 2004. p. 716.  
  8. ^ "Thieves". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 2014-06-13. 
  9. ^ Hinson, Hal (15 May 1987). "Ishtar".  
  10. ^ "The Ex".  
  11. ^ Strauss, Robert (27 January 1997). "Getting Serious Charles Grodin, Veteran Of Many Flaky Film Roles, Is Using His Cable Talk Show To Speak Out About Important Social Issues. ``this Is Thrilling To Me,'' He Says".  
  12. ^ Glassman, Marvin (30 January 2013). "'"Comedienne stars in 'Growing up Grodin.  
  13. ^ Charles Grodin; Gotham Comedy Club. Retrieved 15 April 2012
  14. ^ a b Smith, Liz (24 May 2006). "More to M than meets the eye".  

External links

  • Charles Grodin at the Internet Movie Database
  • Charles Grodin at the Internet Broadway Database
  • Charles Grodin at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
  • The New York ObserverCharles Grodin profile in
  • Charles Grodin's radio commentaries at
  • "The Heartfelt Kid: Actor/Playwright Charles Grodin Premiers New Play in San Francisco", Jewish News Weekly, 26 November 2004.
  • Charles Grodin Urges New Yorkers To Mentor Kids
  • Interview with Charles Grodin
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