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Jim Abrahams

Jim Abrahams

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Also Known As: James Abrahams Died:
Born: May 10, 1944 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Shorewood, Wisconsin, USA Profession: screenwriter, director, actor, producer, private investigator

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

With college friends Jerry and David Zucker, Jim Abrahams is co-founder of the Kentucky Fried Theater in Madison, Wisconsin, in 1969. ZAZ (as they came to be known) subsequently moved their satirical group to Los Angeles and set up a theater there. They made their first venture into feature filmmaking with "The Kentucky Fried Movie" (1977). Directed by John Landis, the film was a memorable series of absurd, vulgar and (mostly) wildly funny send-ups of popular culture. Most of their subsequent work has been in a similar vein. "Airplane!" (1980), "Top Secret!" (1984) and "The Naked Gun" (1988) pay satirical homage to, respectively, the disaster film, the spy film and the police film. Trademark features include scattershot pop culture allusions, rapid-fire anything-for-a-laugh gags, and rugged, but notoriously stiff, second echelon actors from the 1950s (e.g., Robert Stack, Leslie Nielsen, Peter Graves).Like his creative partners, Abrahams has ventured into a solo career as a writer-director, making his directing debut with the slightly more restrained and traditional comedy, "Big Business" (1988) which presented Bette Midler and Lily Tomlin as a pair of identical twins. He served as executive producer...

With college friends Jerry and David Zucker, Jim Abrahams is co-founder of the Kentucky Fried Theater in Madison, Wisconsin, in 1969. ZAZ (as they came to be known) subsequently moved their satirical group to Los Angeles and set up a theater there. They made their first venture into feature filmmaking with "The Kentucky Fried Movie" (1977). Directed by John Landis, the film was a memorable series of absurd, vulgar and (mostly) wildly funny send-ups of popular culture. Most of their subsequent work has been in a similar vein. "Airplane!" (1980), "Top Secret!" (1984) and "The Naked Gun" (1988) pay satirical homage to, respectively, the disaster film, the spy film and the police film. Trademark features include scattershot pop culture allusions, rapid-fire anything-for-a-laugh gags, and rugged, but notoriously stiff, second echelon actors from the 1950s (e.g., Robert Stack, Leslie Nielsen, Peter Graves).

Like his creative partners, Abrahams has ventured into a solo career as a writer-director, making his directing debut with the slightly more restrained and traditional comedy, "Big Business" (1988) which presented Bette Midler and Lily Tomlin as a pair of identical twins. He served as executive producer to John Water's "Cry Baby" (1990), a sweet-natured musical comedy homage to 50s juvenile delinquent dramas and the mystique of the teen rebel. His next solo effort, "Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael" (1990), was a darker change-of-pace comedy featuring Winona Ryder as an outcast teen. Abrahams enjoyed his first solo hit with "Hot Shots!" (1991), an inspired spoof of "Top Gun" and other military flyboy movies. He expanded the parody to include "Rambo" and other commando rescue sagas in the sequel, "Hot Shots! Part Deux" (1992).

Abrahams helmed a well-received 1997 TV-movie, ." . . first do no harm" (ABC), which featured Meryl Streep. The telefilm's subject was close to the director's heart: focusing attention on a controversial dietary treatment for epilepsy. Abrahams' son Charlie suffers with the disease and responded well to the diet.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Mafia! (1998) Director
2.
  ... First Do No Harm (1997) Director
3.
  Hot Shots! Part Deux (1993) Director
4.
  Hot Shots! (1991) Director
5.
6.
  Big Business (1988) Director
7.
  Ruthless People (1986) Director
8.
  Top Secret! (1984) Director
9.
  Airplane! (1980) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Coming to America (1988) Face On Cutting Room Floor
2.
 Airplane! (1980) Religious Zealot
3.
 Kentucky Fried Movie, The (1977) 1st Technician (Eyewitness News); Announcer (Courtroom)
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1969:
With David and Jerry Zucker, formed the Kentucky Fried Theater in Madison, Wisconsin
1972:
Moved Kentucky Fried Theater to Los Angeles
1977:
First film as co-writer and actor, "Kentucky Fried Movie"
1980:
First film as co-director and co-executive producer, "Airplane!" (also co-writer)
1982:
TV directing, producing, and writing debut, "Police Squad!"
1988:
Solo directing debut, "Big Business"
1997:
Returned to TV to direct and co-executive produce ". . . first do no harm" (ABC); the telefilm's subject had personal resonance as Abrahams' son Charlie was treated with the controversial diet depicted in the film
1998:
Helmed the spoof "Mafia!"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

University of Wisconsin at Madison: Madison , Wisconsin -

Notes

"'NO ORIGINALITY is our credo,' proudly states Abrahams. 'What we set out to do first of all was to find a genre that takes itself seriously, and that whole genre of 'going in to get the guys' is a genre that takes itself VERY seriously. Then, keeping in mind our motto--NO ORIGINALITY--we had to steal our love stories and our bad guy stories and the rest of our stories from real movies.'"--From publicity material for "Hot Shots! Part Deux"

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Nancy Abrahams.

Family close complete family listing

son:
Joseph Abrahams.
child:
Jamie Abrahams.
son:
Charles Abrahams. Born c. 1992; suffers with epilepsy; on special high-fat diet; family story became the basis for a TV-movie starring Meryl Streep.

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