Charles Grodin


Actor

About

Birth Place
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
Born
April 21, 1935

Biography

As one of Hollywood's true jack-of-all-trades, actor Charles Grodin amassed a résumé that boasted acting, screenwriting, producing, directing, and television hosting credits over the course of his decades-long career. After beginning his career on Broadway opposite Anthony Quinn, Grodin quickly segued into movies, landing memorable supporting roles in "Rosemary's Baby" (1968) and "Catch-...

Family & Companions

Julia Grodin
Wife
Divorced; died of brain cancer.
Elissa Grodin
Wife
Second wife.

Bibliography

"We're Ready for You, Mr. Grodin"
Charles Grodin, Scribner (1994)
"How I Get Through Life"
Charles Grodin (1992)
"It Would Be So Nice If You Weren't Here"
Charles Grodin, William Morrow (1989)

Notes

Received the Actors' Fund Award of Merit (1975)

"I'm like that dog that bites your leg and doesn't let go," he says. "That doesn't mean that I'll be successful, but I'll never stop. My wife can tell you, I never run out of things to say."---Charles Grodin quoted to Los Angeles Times November 30, 2004.

Biography

As one of Hollywood's true jack-of-all-trades, actor Charles Grodin amassed a résumé that boasted acting, screenwriting, producing, directing, and television hosting credits over the course of his decades-long career. After beginning his career on Broadway opposite Anthony Quinn, Grodin quickly segued into movies, landing memorable supporting roles in "Rosemary's Baby" (1968) and "Catch-22" (1970) before landing his breakout leading role in "The Heartbreak Kid" (1972). His career gradually slowed down throughout the remainder of the decade, though he had villainous supporting parts in "King Kong" (1976) and "Heaven Can Wait" (1978). By the time the 1980s rolled around, Grodin had grown comfortable as a supporting player with roles in hit comedies like "Seems Like Old Times" (1980), "The Great Muppet Caper" (1981) and "The Incredible Shrinking Woman" (1981). But he had his greatest success and most memorable performance as a timorous embezzler in the action comedy "Midnight Run" (1988) opposite Robert De Niro. After scoring another surprise hit with the family friendly "Beethoven" (1992), Grodin shifted gears to become the host of his own news hour, "The Charles Grodin Show" (CNBC, 1995-98), while also delivering political commentary for "60 Minutes II" (CBS, 1999-2005). Mixing both biting wit and comforting wisdom, Grodin's everyman persona earned him the reputation as being one of the country's most respected and trusted public figures.

Born on April 21, 1935 in Pittsburgh, PA, Grodin was raised in an Orthodox Jewish home by his father, Theodore, who sold wholesale supplies, and his mother, Lena, who worked in the family store and volunteered for disabled veterans. Though he attended the University of Miami, where he studied performing arts, he was eager to become an actor and decided to leave after only six month. Grodin instead chose to study acting with Lee Strasberg, Uta Hagen and Mira Rostova in New York, and soon made his debut on Broadway with "Tchin Tchin" (1962), starring opposite Anthony Quinn. His talent and his wry sense of humor caught the attention of Hollywood soon enough, with Grodin making his feature film debut in "Sex and the College Girl" (1964). A few years later, Grodin was the first actor to be cast as Benjamin Braddock, a young man who gets seduced by the lovely Mrs. Robinson in Mike Nichols' classic "The Graduate" (1967). But a disagreement over salary prompted the actor to pull out of the film and the career-defining role went to another up-and-coming star, Dustin Hoffman.

Grodin moved on from the "Graduate" setback to work with Roman Polanski on the famed supernatural thriller, "Rosemary's Baby" (1968), in which he had a small, but chilling role as a devilish obstetrician. Two years later, Grodin had the chance to work with Nichols in the film version of the antiwar satire "Catch-22" (1970), starring Alan Arkin, Jon Voight and Orson Welles. Grodin played the despicable Cpt. Aarfy Aardvark, whose incompetence as a navigator seemingly gets in the way of main character Cpt. Yossarian (Arkin) at the most inconvenient times. Even though he turned down "The Graduate," Grodin eventually found his own breakout role as a man who falls in love with the woman of his dreams (Cybill Shepherd) during his honeymoon with another woman (Jeannie Berlin) in the Neil Simon-penned romantic comedy, "The Heartbreak Kid" (1972). His longtime friend and mentor Elaine May, who was also the film's director, knew Grodin was the perfect star for the movie. His portrayal of Lenny Cantrow opposite Shepherd earned the actor a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy.

Grodin took a short break from films in the mid-1970s - even turning down Steven Spielberg's offer to play the role of Matt Hooper that eventually went to Richard Dreyfuss in "Jaws" (1974) - in order to direct the play "Thieves on Broadway." He reemerged on the big screen to co-star and co-write the heist spoof, "11 Harrowhouse" (1974), before appearing in the blockbuster remake of "King Kong" (1976) as Fred Wilson, a big shot oil magnate looking to strike black gold on a once-deserted island. With that role, Grodin proved that he could play film villains as well as comedic leads. The following year, he had an unintentionally memorable hosting stint on "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ) in 1977, where he and the writers decided to play on an intro about him not having comic material. The overall clumsy and unfunny bit failed to go over well with the audience, leading the show to never ask him to host again. He next had a supporting role as the supplicant personal secretary and lover to the wife (Dyan Cannon) of a millionaire who is poisoned to death, only to have his body occupied by an NFL star (Warren Beatty) not yet slated for death in "Heaven Can Wait" (1978).

Though spending a great deal of his career on the big screen, Grodin had some life on television in the 1970s and 1980s, which in part consisted of guest appearances on variety and late night talk shows. Aside from "SNL," he was a frequent guest on "Late Night with David Letterman" (NBC, 1982-1993), where his appearances were often a play on a faux antagonistic attitude toward the host. The prickly persona became the actor's trademark every time he appeared on other talk shows, including "The Tonight Show" (NBC, 1962- ), where he was one of very few guests under exclusive contract, as he seemingly bristled Johnny Carson with each appearance. Both host and guest were in on the joke, though audiences believed their antagonism to be real. During the early 1980s, Grodin continued receiving praise for his supporting roles in a handful of films, including "Seems Like Old Times" (1980), in which he played the stuffed-shirt husband of a liberal-minded lawyer (Goldie Hawn), whose loser ex-husband (Chevy Chase) invades their lives while trying to hide from bank robbers.

Following a memorable appearance in "The Great Muppet Caper" (1981), Grodin played the husband of "The Incredible Shrinking Woman" (1981), starring Lily Tomlin. After supporting roles in the romantic comedies "The Lonely Guy" (1984), starring Steve Martin, and "The Woman in Red" (1984) with longtime pal Gene Wilder, he reunited with director Elaine May and actor Warren Beatty for "Ishtar" (1987), one of Hollywood's biggest and most derided flops of all time. But he rebounded nicely with his next project, "Midnight Run" (1988), a buddy comedy that paired him opposite Robert De Niro, who played a tough-as-nails bounty hunter tasked with hauling in a weak-willed embezzler (Grodin), only to learn that the criminal has been targeted by the mob for assassination. A masterful blend of action and comedy, "Midnight Run" became one of Grodin's best known films, while also marking the downward trend of his career for the rest of the decade.

Following turns in less-than-inspired comedies like "The Couch Trip" (1988) and "Taking Care of Business" (1990), Grodin made a major comeback with "Beethoven" (1992), a child-friendly comedy about a family and their stray St. Bernard puppy, who matures into a slobbering, over-sized destructive beast. With the film a surprise hit, Grodin starred in the sequel, "Beethoven's 2nd" (1993) and followed with a supporting role in the hit political comedy "Dave" (1993), starring Kevin Kline as an idealistic dead-ringer for the President of the United States. After a supporting role in the dark Mike Myers comedy "So I Married an Axe Murderer" (1993) and a starring role in the critically maligned comedy "Clifford" (1994), Grodin decided to take on politics and current events, switching gears to become host of his own talk show, "The Charles Grodin Show" (CNBC, 1995-98). On the program, he spoke out on a series of issues from the criminal justice system to health and medicine, while also touching upon current topics like the O.J. Simpson trial. The show became the highest-rated program ever in its time period for the cable news network.

In 2000, Grodin became a regular political commentator, delivering Andy Rooney-like remarks for the short-lived spin-off, "60 Minutes II" (CBS, 1999-2005). Grodin was also a human rights activist who fought for two years in order to gain clemency for three women sentenced under New York's notorious Rockefeller drug laws, which he accomplished in 1999. While he delivered radio commentaries for the CBS Radio Network throughout the decade and into the next, Grodin graduated to accomplished playwright with the off-Broadway production "The Right Kind of People" (2004), which took place in the world of Co-op boards in Manhattan. He also became a best-selling author over the years with published works that included How I Get Through Life: A Wise and Witty Guide (1992), We're Ready For You, Mr. Grodin (1994), and "If I Only Knew Then.Learning From Our Mistakes" (2007), a collection of essays written by his celebrity friends. Thirteen years after his last film, Grodin returned to acting in "The Ex" (2007), a romantic comedy that starred Zach Braff, Amanda Peet, and Jason Bateman. Meanwhile, there was talk of Grodin returning for a "Midnight Run" sequel, which generated a fair amount of buzz in mid-2010.

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

The Comedian (2016)
While We're Young (2015)
The Humbling (2014)
The Ex (2007)
It Runs in the Family (1994)
Clifford (1994)
Heart and Souls (1993)
Beethoven's 2nd (1993)
So I Married an Axe Murderer (1993)
Dave (1993)
Beethoven (1992)
Taking Care of Business (1990)
Midnight Run (1988)
The Couch Trip (1988)
You Can't Hurry Love (1988)
Ishtar (1987)
Last Resort (1986)
George Lollar
Movers And Shakers (1985)
Herb Derman
The Lonely Guy (1984)
The Woman in Red (1984)
The Great Muppet Caper (1981)
Nicky Holiday
The Incredible Shrinking Woman (1981)
Seems Like Old Times (1980)
Ira Parks
It's My Turn (1980)
Sunburn (1979)
Real Life (1979)
Just Me and You (1978)
The Grass Is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank (1978)
Thieves (1977)
King Kong (1976)
11 Harrowhouse (1974)
The Heartbreak Kid (1972)
Lenny [Cantrow]
Sex and the College Girl (1970)
Bob
Catch-22 (1970)
Aarfy Aardvark
Rosemary's Baby (1968)
Dr. Hill

Writer (Feature Film)

Movers And Shakers (1985)
Screenwriter
11 Harrowhouse (1974)
Screenplay
11 Harrowhouse (1974)
Writer (Adaptation)

Producer (Feature Film)

Movers And Shakers (1985)
Producer

Director (Special)

Paradise (1974)
Director

Cast (Special)

AFI's 100 Years... 100 Laughs (2000)
Cause Celeb (2000)
50 Years of Television: A Celebration of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Golden Anniversary (1997)
Talk Back America III (1995)
Sesame Street's All-Star 25th Birthday: Stars and Street Forever! (1994)
Lassie Unleashed: 280 Dog Years in TV (1994)
Donahue: The 25th Anniversary (1992)
Jessica Lange: It's Only Make-Believe (1991)
The Muppets at Walt Disney World (1990)
The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson: 28th Anniversary Special (1990)
The 3rd Annual American Comedy Awards (1989)
Performer
King Kong: The Living Legend (1986)
Grown Ups (1985)
Jake
Charley's Aunt (1983)
Love, Sex... And Marriage (1983)
Him
The Paul Simon Special (1977)

Writer (Special)

Love, Sex... And Marriage (1983)
Writer
The Paul Simon Special (1977)
Writer

Producer (Special)

Paradise (1974)
Producer

Special Thanks (Special)

Love, Sex... And Marriage (1983)
Writer
The Paul Simon Special (1977)
Writer

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

Fresno (1986)

Life Events

1962

First acting role was in the Broadway production of "Tchin-Tchin"

1964

Feature acting debut in "Sex and the College Girl" (shot in Puerto Rico in 1964 as "The Fun Lovers"; released in Chicago in 1970 as "Sex and the College Girl")

1965

Began working as assistant to director Gene Saks in New York

1966

Co-wrote (lyrics and libretto) and directed first off-Broadway play, "Hooray! It's a Glorious Day...and All That"

1968

Directed play, "Lovers and Other Strangers" on Broadway

1968

Film debut, "Rosemary's Baby"

1974

Produced first Broadway play, "Thieves" (also director)

1974

Adapted "11 Harrowhouse" to film (also starred)

1975

Starred on Broadway in "Same Time, Next Year"

1977

Co-writer of "The Paul Simon Special"

1977

Produced and directed off-Broadway production, "Unexpected Guests"

1980

Played Goldie Hawn's husband in roles included Neil Simon's "Seems Like Old Times"

1983

Directed Marlo Thomas TV special "Love, Sex and Marriage"

1985

Debut as screenwriter and co-producer of film, "Movers and Shakers"

1988

Played a bounty hunter opposite Robert De Niro in the well-reviewed comedy, "Midnight Run"

1990

Wrote and starred in off-Broadway comedy, "Price of Fame"

1992

Played the nervous family man in the kids' comedy "Beethoven"

1993

Reprised his role in the sequel, "Beethoven's 2nd"

1995

Hosted own talk show on CNBC cable network titled, "The Charles Grodin Show"

1998

Moved to MSNBC as host of weekend talk show; show cancelled in November 1999

2000

Joined CBS' "60 Minutes II" as a commentator

2004

Wrote "The Right Kind of People," an off-Broadway play about Co-op boards in certain buildings in Manhattan

2004

Cast in the play "The Right Kind of People," at the Magic Theatre in San Francisco; play is based on Grodin's experience sitting on the board of the New York co-op he lived in from 1986 to 1992

2007

Returned to acting in the Zach Braff comedy "The Ex"

Videos

Movie Clip

Real Life (1979) - It's Not Degrading! Director and star Albert Brooks assures doctors Cleary and Hill (J.A. Preston and Matthew Tobin) about his documentary as they arrive to meet the Yeagers (Charles Grodin, Frances Lee McCain et al) in Real Life, 1979.
Real Life (1979) - First Supper Charles Grodin (as "Warren") and Frances Lee McCain (as "Jeanette") in their first "at home" episode as the family goes under the microscope in Albert Brooks' 1979 "Mockumentary," Real Life.
Heartbreak Kid, The (1972) - Miami Beach, Here We Come! Joining director Elaine May’s New York Jewish wedding sequence, Charles Grodin as Lenny, the title character and Jeannie Berlin as bride Lila , who has insisted they wait for marriage before having sex, story by Bruce Jay Friedman, script by Neil Simon, early in The Heartbreak Kid, 1972.
Heartbreak Kid, The (1972) - I'm An Egg Salad Nut In a motel restaurant en route from their hurried New York wedding to their Miami Beach honeymoon, Charles Grodin as sporting goods salesman Lenny, who’s beginning to have serious doubts about his new wife Lila (Jeannie Berlin), in director Elaine May’s The Heartbreak Kid, 1972.
Heartbreak Kid, The (1972) - That's My Spot Lenny (Charles Grodin, title character) has given up waiting for neurotic wife Lila (Jeannie Berlin) to make it to the beach on the first day of their Miami Beach honeymoon, and he’s surprised when Kelly (Cybil Shepherd) presents herself, in director Elaine May’s , 1972.
Movers and Shakers - Dinosaur Studio executive Joe Mulholland (Walter Matthau) dedicates a prehistoric memorial to an ailing colleague in Movers and Shakers, 1985.
Heaven Can Wait (1978) - Opening, Lookin' Good! Opening sequence from Heaven Can Wait, 1978, the hit romantic comedy starring Warren Beatty and Julie Christie, directed by Beatty and Buck Henry, written by Henry and Elaine May.
Heaven Can Wait (1978) - I'm Not Leaving! Invisible Jordan (James Mason) is offering Joe (Warren Beatty) the body of Farnsworth, about to be killed by wife (Dyan Cannon) and aide (Charles Grodin) when English Betty (Julie Christie) arrives in Heaven Can Wait, 1978.
Heaven Can Wait (1978) - His Will is Too Strong Farnsworth (Warren Beatty, who is really dead athlete Joe Pendleton) turns down a new body, as his conniving wife (Dyan Cannon) and aide (Charles Grodin) fail again to kill him, in Heaven Can Wait, 1978.
Heaven Can Wait (1978) - Guy Named Porpoise Farnsworth (Warren Beatty, whom we know is really quarterback Joe Pendleton) invites reporters and critics (including Julie Christie) into his board meeting in Heaven Can Wait, 1978.
Heaven Can Wait (1978) - Good Luck Mr. Farnsworth Millionaire Farnsworth (Warren Beatty, who's really deceased quarterback Joe Pendleton) tries out for the team he's just bought in Heaven Can Wait, 1978, directed by Beatty and Buck Henry.
Movers and Shakers - Prostate Writer Herb Derman (Charles Grodin) gets a briefing from his doctor (Sandy Ward) in Movers and Shakers, 1985.

Trailer

Family

Charles Grodin
Grandfather
Rolled cigars at home.
I Theodore Grodin
Father
Store owner. Sold wholesale supplies to clearners, tailors and dressmakers; died c. 1953.
Lena Grodin
Mother
Assisted in husband's store; died March 1996.
Jack Grodin
Brother
Attorney, CPA. Six years older.
Marion Grodin
Daughter
Producer stand-up comic. Mother, Julia Grodin; produced father's CNBC talk show.
Nicky Grodin
Son
Born c. 1988; mother Elissa Grodin.

Companions

Julia Grodin
Wife
Divorced; died of brain cancer.
Elissa Grodin
Wife
Second wife.

Bibliography

"We're Ready for You, Mr. Grodin"
Charles Grodin, Scribner (1994)
"How I Get Through Life"
Charles Grodin (1992)
"It Would Be So Nice If You Weren't Here"
Charles Grodin, William Morrow (1989)

Notes

Received the Actors' Fund Award of Merit (1975)

"I'm like that dog that bites your leg and doesn't let go," he says. "That doesn't mean that I'll be successful, but I'll never stop. My wife can tell you, I never run out of things to say."---Charles Grodin quoted to Los Angeles Times November 30, 2004.

"I'm like that dog that bites your leg and doesn't let go," he says. "That doesn't mean that I'll be successful, but I'll never stop. My wife can tell you, I never run out of things to say."---Charles Grodin quoted to Los Angeles Times November 30, 2004.