Best known as Jack Arnold, the husband and father with one of the world's softest hearts, on the period comedy drama The Wonder Years (1988-1993), burly actor Dan Lauria's accomplishments as an actor far outstripped that single characterization. Lauria sustained an impressive and versatile career that encompassed soap operas, situation comedies, long-form features and miniseries, and theatrical work, to name only a few arenas. As a young man, the Brooklyn-born Lauria attended Southern Connecticut State University, where he played collegiate football, then enlisted in the Marines. He received formal dramatic training under coaches Constance Welch (at Yale) and Davey Marlin-Jones (at the Washington Theatre Club) -- both of whom tutored him with an approach resolutely opposed to that of the classic "Method." Lauria then debuted onscreen in the early '80s largely with telemovies, such as the 1983 Without a Trace and the 1985 Brass, and with occasional appearances on sitcoms such as Growing Pains. The Wonder Years, of course, represented one of Lauria's most significant breaks, and he later reflected that it would remain his chief legacy as an actor.
After Years wrapped in 1993, Lauria continued his small-screen work. He appeared on such programs as ER, Law & Order, Smallville, and Boy Meets World; played legendary network head Fred Silverman in Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of Charlie's Angels; and played Crawford in the Martin Lawrence comedy vehicle Big Momma's House 2 (2006). He also maintained a busy theatrical schedule, with a particularly strong presence at L.A.'s Coronet Theater.