American actor Arliss Howard was born in Missouri, but he became well known to moviegoers of 1987 as a Texan named "Cowboy" in Stanley Kubrick's Vietnam picture Full Metal Jacket. Many viewers assumed that this tall, lithe actor made his film debut in the Kubrick picture, but Howard had in fact been showing up in "hick" roles for several years, notably as the naive vacuum cleaner salesman in Door To Door (84). After his tour of duty with Kubrick, Howard was back to baby-faced roles with his performance as a 24-year-old detective posing as a high schooler in Plain Clothes (88). Howard has developed into something of a George Brent for the 1990s, willing to play second fiddle (albeit a very good one) to some of the more dynamic actresses of the era. He was one of lovelorn Jessica Lange's many "Mr. Perfect" candidates in Men Don't Leave (90); he was second-billed to Goldie Hawn as a disturbed Vietnam vet in Crisscross (92); and in 1991's For the Boys, Howard appeared unbilled as USO performer Bette Midler's doomed GI husband. Arliss Howard's TV movie appearances have included I Know My First Name is Stephen (89) and Iran: Days of Crisis (91).
Biography by Hal Erickson
- Grew up listening to Kansas City Royals games on a radio won by his sister in a beauty pageant. Later appeared in baseball movies The Sandlot and Moneyball.
- Met his wife Debra Winger on the set of 1993's Wilder Napalm.
- Performs on the Night Kitchen Radio Theater, a nonprofit airing on satellite radio, with a cast including son Babe and wife Debra.
- Lives on a farm in upstate New York, in surroundings similar to those in his native Missouri.