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  • dern-cowboys.jpgBRUCE DERN

    Information from IMDb

    Date of birth
    4 June 1936
    Chicago, Illinois, USA

    Birth name
    Bruce MacLeish Dern

    6' (1.83 m)

    Andrea Beckett (20 October 1969 - present)
    Diane Ladd (1960 - 1969) (divorced) 2 daughters
    Marie Dean (? - ?) (divorced)

    Alumnus of New Trier Township High School East, Winnetka, Illinois. Other New Trier graduates include Ralph Bellamy, Charlton Heston, Rock Hudson, Hugh O'Brien, Ann-Margret, Penelope Milford, Virginia Madsen and Liz Phair.

    Born at 3:11am-CDT

    Father of Laura Dern.

    One of select few to kill actor John Wayne on the silver screen (see the movie The Cowboys (1972)). He even received some death threats out of it.

    He had two daughters by Diane Ladd. His eldest daughter, born in 1961, accidentally drowned at 18 months of age, years before his second child, Laura Dern, was born in 1967.

    His grandfather was George Dern, former Governor of Utah & FDR's first Secretary of War.

    Nephew of poet Archibald Macleish.

    Grandchildren of Ellery Walker Harper & Jaya Harper.

    Father-in-law of (musician) Ben Harper.

    Personal Quotes
    "Because I'm the only actor who ever killed John Wayne in a picture, producers have pegged me for a villain."

    "I've played more psychotics and freaks and dopers than anyone."

    [Talking about his fight scene with John Wayne]: "He walloped me bad."

    Mini Biography
    Bruce Dern had established himself as the movies' premier heavy, playing sociopaths, psychotics and just plain criminals by the time he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Coming Home (1978). Some perceptive critics had noted that Dern was a finer actor than his roles generally allowed one to believe, repelled as one was by the neurotic persona that Dern was able to project and that casting directors capitalized on.

    Jack Nicholson, a close friend, claimed that Dern was the best of the new breed of actors who had been born just before World War II and were coming into their own in the 1970s. Unlike his screen image, Dern had come from a patrician background: his grandfather had been governor of Utah and a secretary of war under Franklin Delano Roosevelt. When allowed to step out of his on-screen persona to assay the millionaire Tom Buchanan in the 1974 remake of The Great Gatsby (1974), he acquitted himself quite well.

    Some critics said that "Gatsby" would have been better if Dern rather than Robert Redford had played the title role. Others pointed to his fine work as Nicholson's brother in The King of Marvin Gardens (1972) to establish a case that he was an underappreciated and underutilized talent. By the time Dern appeared as the cuckolded Marine in "Coming Home," a consensus had emerged that Dern was a fine actor. He won an Oscar nod for the role, then fell victim to the infamous "Oscar curse" that has claimed other winners, most famously in the case of 1969 Best Supporting Actor winner Gig Young, Dern's co-star in They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969).

    Dern, like Young before him, was determined to break out of supporting roles. Like Young, who had been cast repeatedly as a light comedian in his career, Dern had also become typecast, but as a psycho, surpassing even Anthony Perkins in those types of roles. Dern was determined to break out of the ghetto he had found himself in before "Coming Home." He failed, and his career suffered.

    Up through his Oscar nomination, Dern had starred in 26 films in 11 years since graduating to steady employment in A-pictures with Waterhole #3 (1967). After the 1979 Oscar nod, he would appear in only a dozen feature films in the next 11 years, not counting TV movies. None of them brought him stardom or much acclaim, and his attempt at becoming a lead man, Middle Age Crazy (1980), flopped badly (he did received a nomination for Best Performance by a Foreign Actor at the 1981 Genie Awards, the Canadian equivalent of the Oscars, for his work in that picture). It was back to psychos, this time as a lead, in Tattoo (1981). The movie proved to be another flop, and his reputation was further damaged when he bragged that he had actually performed on-screen sexual intercourse with co-star Maud Adams, a boast that Adams heatedly denied. Dern's star was seriously dimmed.

    Although he landed a coveted role in the film adaptation of Jason Miller's Pulitzer Prize-winning play That Championship Season (1982), the film was a disappointment with critics and at the box office. He turned in a fine performance three years later in the TV movie Toughlove (1985) (TV), but overall, his career was floundering.

    Another psycho role, that of Uncle Bud in After Dark, My Sweet (1990), started buzz about another possible Best Supporting Oscar nod for him, but the film proved a box-office bust and the nomination never materialized. A predicted career renaissance for Dern faded, just as the careers of his ex-wife, Diane Ladd, and their daughter, Laura Dern, kicked into high gear.

    Since the 1990 high point of the second wave of his career, Dern has stayed steadily employed, but has never again generated much critical acclaim, nor made any inroads towards reclaiming his crown as the cinema's premier sociopath. A fine actor, who will be remembered most vividly for such psycho/killer roles such as the rustler leader who gunned down John Wayne in The Cowboys (1972), Dern's career serves as a cautionary tale for those actors who try to escape the ghetto of typecasting. While nothing restricts an actor's artistic development as much as typecasting, unless like a Duke Wayne they can turn that type into superstardom, trying to break out of the type can prove to be career suicide.
    IMDb mini-biography by Jon C. Hopwood

    1. The Astronaut Farmer (2007) (post-production)
    2. The Cake Eaters (2007) (post-production) .... Easy Kimbrough
    3. "Big Love" .... Frank Harlow
    - The Ceremony (2006) TV Episode .... Frank Harlow
    - Where There's a Will (2006) TV Episode .... Frank Harlow
    - The Baptism (2006) TV Episode .... Frank Harlow
    - A Barbecue for Betty (2006) TV Episode .... Frank Harlow
    - Easter (2006) TV Episode .... Frank Harlow
    (7 more)
    4. Walker Payne (2006)
    5. Down in the Valley (2005) .... Charlie
    6. Believe in Me (2005) .... Ellis Brawley
    7. The Hard Easy (2005) .... Gene
    8. Monster (2003) .... Thomas
    9. Hard Ground (2003) (TV) .... Nate Hutchinson
    10. "King of the Hill"
    - Boxing Luanne (2003) TV Episode (voice) .... Randy Strickland
    11. Milwaukee, Minnesota (2003) .... Sean McNally
    12. Masked and Anonymous (2003) .... Editor
    13. The Glass House (2001) .... Begleiter
    14. Madison (2001) .... Harry Volpi
    15. All the Pretty Horses (2000) .... Judge
    16. If... Dog... Rabbit... (1999) .... McGurdy
    ... aka One Last Score (USA: DVD title)
    17. The Haunting (1999) .... Mr. Dudley
    ... aka Maldición, La (USA: Spanish title)
    18. Hard Time: The Premonition (1999) (TV) .... Ray Earl Winston
    ... aka The Premonition (USA)
    19. Small Soldiers (1998) (voice) .... Link Static
    20. Perfect Prey (1998) (TV) .... Capt. Swaggert
    ... aka When the Bough Breaks II
    21. Comfort, Texas (1997) (TV)
    22. Last Man Standing (1996/I) .... Sheriff Ed Galt
    23. Mulholland Falls (1996) (uncredited) .... The Chief
    24. Down Periscope (1996) .... RAdm. Yancy Graham
    25. "Lost Drive-In" (1996) TV Series .... Host
    26. Wild Bill (1995) .... Will Plummer
    27. Mrs. Munck (1995) .... Patrick Leary
    28. A Mother's Prayer (1995) (TV) .... John Walker
    29. Amelia Earhart: The Final Flight (1994) (TV) .... George Putnam
    30. Dead Man's Revenge (1994) (TV) .... Payton McCay
    31. It's Nothing Personal (1993) (TV) .... Billy Archer
    32. Diggstown (1992) .... John Gillon
    ... aka Midnight Sting
    33. Carolina Skeletons (1991) (TV) .... Junior Stoker
    34. Into the Badlands (1991) (TV) .... T.L. Barston
    35. The Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson (1990) (TV) .... Scout Ed Higgins
    36. After Dark, My Sweet (1990) .... Garrett "Uncle Bud" Stoker

    37. The `burbs (1989) .... Mark Rumsfield
    38. Trenchcoat in Paradise (1989) (TV) .... John Hollander
    39. 1969 (1988) .... Cliff
    40. World Gone Wild (1988) .... Ethan
    41. The Big Town (1987) .... Mr. Edwards
    42. Uncle Tom's Cabin (1987) (TV) .... Augustine St. Claire
    43. Roses Are for the Rich (1987) (TV) .... Douglas Osborne
    44. Retour (1987)
    45. Toughlove (1985) (TV) .... Rob Charters
    46. "Space" (1985) (mini) TV Series .... Stanley Mott
    ... aka James A. Michener's Space
    47. On the Edge (1985) .... Wes Holman
    48. Harry Tracy, Desperado (1982) .... Harry Tracy
    ... aka Harry Tracy
    ... aka Harry Tracy: Dead or Alive (UK)
    49. That Championship Season (1982) .... George Sitkowski
    50. Tattoo (1981) .... Karl Kinsky
    51. Middle Age Crazy (1980) .... Bobby Lee
    ... aka Heartfarm

    52. The Driver (1978) .... The Detective
    53. Coming Home (1978) .... Capt. Bob Hyde
    ... aka Hemkomsten
    54. Black Sunday (1977) .... Captain Michael J. Lander
    55. Folies bourgeoises (1976) .... William Brandels
    ... aka Pazzi borghesi (Italy)
    ... aka The Twist (USA)
    ... aka Verrückten Reichen, Die (West Germany)
    56. Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood (1976) .... Grayson Potchuck
    ... aka Won Ton Ton (USA: poster title)
    57. Family Plot (1976) .... George
    58. Smile (1975) .... Big Bob Freelander
    59. Posse (1975) .... Jack Strawhorn
    60. The Great Gatsby (1974) .... Tom Buchanan
    61. The Laughing Policeman (1973) .... Insp. Leo Larsen SFPD
    ... aka An Investigation of Murder (UK)
    62. Thumb Tripping (1972) .... Smitty
    63. The King of Marvin Gardens (1972) .... Jason Staebler
    64. Silent Running (1972) .... Freeman Lowell
    65. The Cowboys (1972) .... Long Hair (Asa Watts)
    66. The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant (1971) .... Dr. Roger Gerard
    ... aka The Incredible Transplant
    67. Drive, He Said (1971) .... Coach Bullion
    68. Sam Hill: Who Killed Mr. Foster? (1971) (TV) .... Deputy Doyle Pickett
    ... aka Sam Hill: Who Killed the Mysterious Mr. Foster?
    69. "The Immortal"
    - To the Gods Alone (1970) TV Episode .... Luther Seacombe
    70. "The High Chaparral"
    - Only the Bad Come to Sonora (1970) TV Episode .... Wade
    71. The Rebel Rousers (1970) .... J.J. Weston
    72. Bloody Mama (1970) .... Kevin Dirkman
    73. "Land of the Giants"
    - Wild Journey (1970) TV Episode .... Thorg
    74. "Bonanza"
    ... aka Ponderosa (USA: rerun title)
    - The Gold Mine (1970) TV Episode .... Bayliss
    - The Trackers (1968) TV Episode .... Cully Maco

    75. They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969) .... James
    76. "Lancer"
    - A Person Unknown (1969) TV Episode .... Tom Nevill
    - Julie (1968) TV Episode .... Lucas
    77. "Then Came Bronson"
    - Amid Splinters of the Thunderbolt (1969) TV Episode .... Bucky O'Neill
    78. The Cycle Savages (1969) .... Keeg
    79. Number One (1969) .... Richie Fowler
    80. Castle Keep (1969) .... Lt. Billy Byron Bix
    81. Support Your Local Sheriff! (1969) .... Joe Danby
    82. "Gunsmoke"
    ... aka Gun Law (UK)
    ... aka Marshal Dillon (USA: rerun title)
    - The Long Night (1969) TV Episode .... Guerin
    - The Jailer (1966) TV Episode .... Lou Stone
    - South Wind (1965) TV Episode .... Judd Print
    - Ten Little Indians (1965) TV Episode .... Doyle Phleger
    83. "The Big Valley"
    - The Prize (1968) TV Episode .... John Weaver
    - Four Days to Furnace Hill (1967) TV Episode .... Gabe Skeels
    - Lost Treasure (1966) TV Episode .... Clovis
    - By Force and Violence (1966) TV Episode .... Harry Dixon
    - Under a Dark Star (1966) TV Episode .... Jack Follet
    84. "The F.B.I."
    - The Nightmare (1968) TV Episode .... Virgil Roy Phipps
    - Pound of Flesh (1965) TV Episode .... PFC Byron Landy
    85. Hang 'Em High (1968) .... Miller, One of the 3 rustlers, and murderer
    86. Psych-Out (1968) .... Steve Davis
    87. Will Penny (1968) .... Rafe Quint
    88. "Run for Your Life"
    - At the End of the Rainbow There's Another Rainbow (1967) TV Episode .... Alex Ryder
    - Trip to the Far Side (1967) TV Episode .... Alex Ryder
    - The Treasure Seekers (1966) TV Episode .... Alex Ryder
    89. Waterhole #3 (1967) .... Deputy Samuel P. Tippen
    ... aka Waterhole No. 3
    ... aka Waterhole Three (UK)
    90. The Trip (1967/II) .... John
    91. The St. Valentine's Day Massacre (1967) .... May
    92. The War Wagon (1967) .... Hammond
    93. "The Fugitive"
    - The Devil's Disciples (1966) TV Episode .... Hutch
    - The Good Guys and the Bad Guys (1965) TV Episode .... Hank
    - Corner of Hell (1965) TV Episode .... Cody
    - Come Watch Me Die (1964) TV Episode .... Charley
    - The Other Side of the Mountain (1963) TV Episode .... Deputy Martin
    94. "Disneyland"
    ... aka Disney's Wonderful World (USA: new title)
    ... aka The Disney Sunday Movie (USA: new title)
    ... aka The Magical World of Disney (USA: new title)
    ... aka The Wonderful World of Disney (USA: new title)
    ... aka Walt Disney (USA: new title)
    ... aka Walt Disney Presents (USA: new title)
    ... aka Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color (USA: new title)
    - Gallegher Goes West: The Crusading Reporter (1966) TV Episode .... Turk
    95. The Wild Angels (1966) .... Loser
    96. "The Loner"
    - To Hang a Dead Man (1966) TV Episode .... Merrick
    97. "Branded"
    - The Wolfers (1966) TV Episode .... Les
    98. "Gallegher Goes West"
    - The Crusading Reporter (1966) TV Episode .... Turk, Gunslinger
    99. "Twelve O'Clock High"
    - The Jones Boys (1965) TV Episode .... Tech. Sgt. Jones
    - The Mission (1965) TV Episode .... Lt. Michaels
    - The Lorelei (1965) TV Episode .... Lt. Danton
    - Golden Boy Had Nine Black Sheep (1964) TV Episode .... Lt. Michaels
    100. "A Man Called Shenandoah"
    - The Verdict (1965) TV Episode .... Bobby Ballantine
    101. "Laredo"
    - Rendezvous at Arillo (1965) TV Episode .... Durkee
    102. "Rawhide"
    - Walk into Terror (1965) TV Episode .... Ed Rankin
    103. "The Virginian"
    ... aka The Men from Shiloh (USA: new title)
    - A Little Learning (1965) TV Episode .... Bert Kramer
    - The Payment (1964) TV Episode .... Lee Darrow
    - First to Thine Own Self (1964) TV Episode .... Pell
    104. "Wagon Train"
    ... aka Major Adams, Trail Master
    - The Indian Girl Story (1965) TV Episode .... Wilkins
    - Those Who Stay Behind (1964) TV Episode .... Jud Fisher
    - The Eli Bancroft Story (1963) TV Episode .... Seth Bancroft
    105. Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964) .... John Mayhew
    ... aka What Ever Happened to Cousin Charlotte?
    106. "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour"
    - Lonely Place (1964) TV Episode .... Jesse
    - Night Caller (1964) TV Episode .... Roy Bullock
    107. Marnie (1964) .... Sailor
    108. "The Greatest Show on Earth"
    - The Last of the Strongmen (1964) TV Episode .... Vernon
    109. "77 Sunset Strip"
    - Lover's Lane (1964) TV Episode .... Ralph Wheeler
    110. "The Outer Limits"
    - The Zanti Misfits (1963) TV Episode .... Ben Garth
    111. "Kraft Suspense Theatre"
    - The Hunt (1963) TV Episode .... Maynard
    112. "The Dick Powell Show"
    ... aka The Dick Powell Theatre (USA: new title)
    - The Old Man and the City (1963) TV Episode
    - Squadron (1962) TV Episode .... Deering
    113. "Stoney Burke" (1962) TV Series .... E.J. Stocker (1962-1963)
    114. "Ripcord"
    - Sentence of Death (1962) TV Episode
    115. "The Detectives Starring Robert Taylor"
    ... aka Robert Taylor's Detectives (new title)
    ... aka The Detectives
    ... aka The Detectives, Starring Robert Taylor
    - Act of God (1961) TV Episode .... Jud Treadwell
    116. "Thriller"
    ... aka Boris Karloff's Thriller
    - The Remarkable Mrs. Hawk (1961) TV Episode .... Johnny Norton
    117. "Ben Casey"
    - A Dark Night for Billy Harris (1961) TV Episode .... Billy Harris
    118. "Surfside 6"
    - Daphne, Girl Detective (1961) TV Episode .... Johnny Page
    119. "Cain's Hundred"
    - Crime and Commitment: Part 1 (1961) TV Episode .... Hood
    120. "Sea Hunt"
    - Crime at Sea (1961) TV Episode
    121. "Naked City"
    - The Fault in Our Stars (1961) TV Episode (uncredited) .... Hollis
    - Bullets Cost too Much (1961) TV Episode
    122. The Crimebusters (1961) .... Joe Krajac
    123. Wild River (1960) (uncredited) .... Jack Roper

    Best Wishes
    London- England

    Edited 2 times, last by ethanedwards ().

  • Bruce Dern was perhaps the most un-likely 'Pal',
    but I'm sure they were in real life, maybe!!!!

    Bruce starred in only 2 films with Duke,

    The Cowboys the brilliant character,'Long Hair' (Asa Watts)
    The War Wagon...Hammond

    The Cowboys, boy was that memorable,
    and at the time, Bruce was the most hated man in the world,
    for being one of very few to kill off Duke's character!
    He even received some death threats out of it.



    From IMdb
    He will be remembered most vividly for such psycho/killer roles such as the rustler leader who gunned down John Wayne , Dern's career serves as a cautionary tale for those actors who try to escape the ghetto of typecasting. While nothing restricts an actor's artistic development as much as typecasting, unless like a Duke Wayne they can turn that type into superstardom, trying to break out of the type can prove to be career suicide.

    Best Wishes
    London- England

    Edited once, last by ethanedwards ().

  • Hi Keith

    Bruce was in two movies with the Duke, 'The War Wagon' being the other one in which Kirk Douglas guns him down.

    Incidentally I've read that Dern still has pains from that fight with Duke, can anyone shed some light on this?



  • Hi Robbie,

    Thanks for reminding me, of course he was!!
    in The War Wagon, as he played Hammond
    I got so wrapped up in his demon part
    in The Cowboys, I forgot that one!!!

    Best Wishes
    London- England

  • I admit that I used to dislike Bruce Dern but, over the years, the more I see him every time I watch: The Cowboys, the more I like his acting style. Unfortunately, most of the movies I have seen him in; were pretty lousy.

    Es Ist Verboten Mit Gefangenen In Einzelhaft Zu Sprechen..

  • Played good psychos be it The Cowboys or Black Sunday. As Arthur says his most touching performance was Silent Running.

    Im sure in real life he is a nice guy. When I get the chance I am going to buy in recent book


  • Has Bruce Dern been forgiven yet for murdering Duke ? :cry2:

    As a youngster watching The Cowboys for the 1st time and remember 'hating' him for shooting Duke in the back

    Its a wonder he was not lynched !!

  • Check out "Posse" with Bruce playing the bandit against Kirk Douglas' righteous lawman. He easily steals the show.
    Alfonso Arau, Bo Hopkins and Luke Askew are also featured to great advantage.

    We deal in lead, friend

  • Has to be Bruce Dern in The Cowboys or Yul Brynner in Westworld both roles gave both actors a major boost in their careers.

    I'm not so sure that gave Dern a major boost. I've read several times that he received all kinds of death threats after "killing" the Duke. :fear2:

    De gustibus non est disputandum

  • I'm not so sure that gave Dern a major boost. I've read several times that he received all kinds of death threats after "killing" the Duke. :fear2:

    As a role, although unpopular with JW fans it certainly got Dern noticed by the wide film making community.

    Prior to The Cowboys he played very small supporting roles virtually being an extra with dialogue. After The Cowboys he landed two leading roles in Silent Running & Family Plot amazing when you look at his career before these films. He was unable to build on his raised profile and could not escape the psycho / nut roles that The Cowboys & Black Sunday typecast with as an actor.

  • How would you have liked to be dating Laura Dern and having dear old dad open the door on the first date? It's a wonder that she didn't just enter a convent.

    We deal in lead, friend.

  • How would you have liked to be dating Laura Dern and having dear old dad open the door on the first date? It's a wonder that she didn't just enter a convent.

    Ha ha ha... Hey there, Don't be skeered young man. I won't hurt-cha. Datin' my fine daughter, huh ? Well, I'll just be over here at the kitchen table, busyin myself re-loading a few shells while you jest settle in over there on that comfy sofa...where I can see ya.

  • Bruce Dern remembers acting with Duke on ‘The Cowboys’ in this recent article, published this week:

    “… He gave me carte blanche to just treat him like a turd …”

    And a trailer:

    Bruce Dern still gets hate mail for what he did to John Wayne on The Cowboys
    Bruce Dern says he still gets hate mail for what he did to John Wayne on The Cowboys, with Duke telling him: "Oh how they're gonna hate you for this".

    Edited 3 times, last by Nathan ().