Randy Quaid

Active - 1968 - 2009  |   Born - Oct 1, 1950 in Houston, Texas, United States  |   Genres - Comedy, Drama

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Biography by Sandra Brennan

Whether he is playing a clumsy redneck, spoofing an American president, or portraying a quietly psychotic father, Randy Quaid has a screen and stage presence that is difficult to ignore. Part of this is due to his physical appearance. The curly headed Quaid stands a muscular 6'4" tall, and unlike his handsome younger brother, Dennis, he is an ordinary-looking man with a flexible face that enables him to disappear into a wide variety of characters.

An electrician's son, the Houston-born and raised Quaid was majoring in drama at the University of Houston and working as a standup comedian with actor Trey Wilson when he met Peter Bogdanovich. The young director was impressed with Quaid and cast him in a number of his films, beginning with Targets (1968), then The Last Picture Show (1971), Paper Moon (1973), and Texasville (1990). In 1973, Quaid received an Oscar nomination for his moving portrayal of a convicted, bewildered sailor escorted to prison by guards Jack Nicholson and Otis Young in The Last Detail. Other notable Quaid performances can be found in Midnight Express (1978), the National Lampoon Vacation films of the '80s and '90s, The Curse of the Starving Class (1994), and Kingpin (1996). In 1999, he stepped in front of the camera for his wife, Evi Quaid, in High Expectations, her directorial debut. The film premiered at the Toronto Film Festival that year. Moving into the 2000s, the veteran actor continued to appear in a number of high-profile features, including Ang Lee's 2005 Oscar-winner Brokeback Mountain, though his eccentric behavior quickly began to overshadow his impressive film resume. Arrested in 2009 for allegedly defrauding an innkeeper and again the following year on burglary charges, he promptly fled to Canada and sought asylum with wife Evi.

Though successful in feature films, Quaid has had even better luck on television. The burly actor has excelled on the small screen since making his debut in the 1971 movie Getting Away From It All. He has been nominated for an Emmy for playing President Lyndon B. Johnson in the NBC miniseries LBJ: The Early Years (1986), a role that also won him a Golden Globe award. Quaid's television work extends beyond the dramatic: During the 1985-1986 season, he was a regular on NBC's sketch comedy series Saturday Night Live, and starred in the sitcom Davis Rules from 1991 until 1992. In addition to his film and television career, Quaid has also found success on-stage in both New York and Los Angeles.

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  • Once worked as a janitor and considered going into stand-up comedy.
  • Was a student at the University of Houston when Peter Bogdanovich cast him in the 1968 film Targets. He went on to work with the director on The Last Picture Show (1971), What's Up, Doc? (1972) and Paper Moon (1973).
  • Met his wife, a production assistant and former model, while filming the 1989 flick Bloodhounds of Broadway.
  • Received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2003.
  • Provided the voice of the animated Colonel in KFC commercials.
  • Was arrested twice–once in 2009 for allegedly defrauding an innkeeper and again in 2010 on burglary charges–and has sought asylum status in Canada with his wife.