Family & Companions
The son of famed pianist and composer Arthur Rubinstein, John Rubinstein has distinguished himself as both a character player and occasional leading man of stage and screen and as a respected film and TV composer.
Thin, with curly hair, Rubinstein has often played staid or intellectual characters, but has proven adept at portraying weak husbands and licentious studio executives. After attending the Juilliard School of Music, he moved to the West Coast where he began his showbiz acting career on stage in a local production of "Camelot" and his feature film debut playing a Confederate soldier in "Journey to Shiloh" (1965). He went on to star in the odd rock 'n' roll Western "Zachariah" (1971), for which he also composed several songs, and landed a substantial supporting role in "The Boys From Brazil" (1978), as a zealous American Jewish Nazi hunter aiding Laurence Olivier's faux Simon Weisenthal in searching for Josef Mengele. The next year, 1979, he played the title role in the docudrama "The Search for Historic Jesus." In 1983, Rubinstein was the adoptive father of Timothy Hutton and Amanda Plummer, the children of the fictional characters based on Julius and Ethel Rosenberg in Sidney Lumet's "Daniel." Rubinstein's subsequent feature roles have often been often sporadic. In the 90s, he co-starred with Richard Dreyfuss and Emilio Estevez in "Another Stakeout" (1993) and appeared opposite his second wife Jane Lanier in the kidnap thriller "Mercy" (1995).
Small screen roles have proven more lasting and diverse. Rubinstein began with an episode of "The Virginian" (1965) and made numerous episodic guest appearances, including the pilot of "The Streets of San Francisco" (1972), before winning a recurring role on the ABC drama series "Family" as Meredith Baxter Birney's estranged and then ex-husband, Jeff Maitland. For the role, he earned an Emmy nomination as Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series in 1978. Rubinstein played the role from 1975-78 and also composed the series' theme song as well as providing the score for many of the episodes. Although he made his first TV-movie in 1967 with "The Psychiatrist: God Bless the Children" (NBC), Rubinstein had meaty role in longforms, including as the ill-equipped lieutenant who commands an all-black brigade in "Roots: The Next Generations" (ABC, 1979), Irving Thalberg in "Moviola" (NBC, 1980), the Jewish ACLU lawyer defending the Nazis' right to march in "Skokie" (CBS, 1981), and Darryl Zanuck negotiating with an increasingly exasperating Marilyn Monroe in "Norma Jean and Marilyn" (HBO, 1996). From 1984-86, he starred with Jack Warden in "Crazy Like a Fox" (CBS), playing Warden's stuff-shirt attorney son.
Although he appeared on stage in the 60s, including the national tour of "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever," Rubinstein did not reach Broadway until 1972 when he created the title role in Stephen Schwartz's "Pippin," directed by Bob Fosse. In 1980, he returned to the Great White Way as the maverick teacher at a school for the hearing-impaired in Mark Medoff's award-winning play "Children of a Lesser God," for which he earned a Best Actor Tony Award. Rubinstein later appeared on Broadway in David Rabe's "Hurlyburly" (1985) and was one of several actors who played the leading role of the European duped by an Asian opera singer in "M. Butterfly." He has also directed for the stage, including the off-Broadway production of "The Rover," with Christopher Reeve and co-directed (as well as starring in) the L.A. production of "Counselor-at-Law."
Rubinstein's composing career has run concurrently with his acting. In 1969, he scored his first feature film, "Paddy," an Irish serio-comedy. He wrote the lovely scores for two 1972 Robert Redford vehicles, "Jeremiah Johnson" and "The Candidate." Rubinstein has worked with increasing frequency in television, scoring the short-lived 1974 ABC series "The New Land" and the dramatic "The Fitzpatricks" (CBS, 1977-78) as well as numerous TV-movies, notably "The Dollmaker" (ABC, 1984), which marked Jane Fonda's TV movie debut. As a composer and keyboard artist, Rubinstein has performed with the jazz/rock group Funzone and released an album with them in 1977. His knowledge of and connection with classical music history led to his hosting the radio series "AT&T Presents Carnegie Hall Tonight" from 1984-86.
Cast (Feature Film)
Music (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Made stage debut in "Camelot" in San Carlos, CA
Made TV debut on an episode of "The Virginian" (NBC)
Made TV-movie debut, "The Psychiatrist: God Bless the Children"
Scored first feature film, "Paddy"
Played first substantial screen role in "The Trouble with Girls," starring Elvis Presley
First leading role, "Zachariah"; also composed songs
Starred on Broadway in the title role of "Pippin," directed by Bob Fosse
With Tim McIntire, wrote music for the Western feature "Jeremiah Johnson"
Scored TV series "The New Land"
Landed recurring role as Jeff, the ex-husband of Nancy (Meredith Baxter Birney), on drama series "Family" (ABC), also composed show's theme
Played title role in documentary "The Search for Historic Jesus"
Appeared in ABC miniseries "Roots: The Next Generations"
Returned to Broadway to co-star with Phyllis Frelich in "Children of a Lesser God"; won Tony Award
Played adoptive father of title character in Sidney Lumet's feature "Daniel"
Co-starred with Jack Warden on "Crazy Like a Fox" (CBS)
Made stage directorial debut with "The Rover," starring Christopher Reeve
Directed three-part story on "ABC Afterschool Specials"
Played featured role of Tateh in Los Angeles production of "Ragtime"; later reprised on Broadway
Appeared opposite Donald Sutherland in the stage play "Enigma Variations"
Guest starred on The WB's "Angel"
Played a gynecologist in "21 Grams"
Played The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz in Los Angeles production of award-winning musical "Wicked"
Cast as Dr. Charles Taylor on "The Young and the Restless" (CBS)
Landed recurring guest role on "Desperate Housewives" (ABC)
Cast in romantic comedy "Hello I Must Be Going," starring Melanie Lynskey and Blythe Danner