On this day, June 4, 1936, actor Bruce Dern was born. Born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Jean (née MacLeish) and John Dern, his paternal grandfather was George Henry Dern, a former Utah governor and Secretary of War, and his great-uncle was poet Archibald MacLeish; his godfather was well-known politician Adlai Stevenson and his godmother was Eleanor Roosevelt. How’s that for a pedigree?
Early in his career he acted in the Philadelphia premier of Waiting for Godot opposite Lyle Kessler and first appeared on screen, for an uncredited role, in the 1960 film Wild River. He then appeared, as a guest star, in several popular 1960s television shows, including Route 66, Naked City, Sea Hunt, Surfside 6, 77 Sunset Strip, The Outer Limits, and several others.
In 1964, he appeared in a major Alfred Hitchcock film, the psychological thriller Marnie, in a short role as the sailor seen in flashbacks about Marnie’s mother.
Also in 1964, he had a small but crucial film role in Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte as the lover of the young Charlotte (a role played by Bette Davis). During that period, he also appeared in several films, including The Wild Angels (1966), The War Wagon, The Trip (1967), Psych-Out, Will Penny (1968), and the early Clint Eastwood film, Hang ‘Em High (1968) as a rustler/murderer.
Among Dern’s first 20 film roles was a part in the Sydney Pollack picture They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, in 1969.
In 1969, he also co-starred with James Garner and Walter Brennan in the classic film Support Your Local Sheriff! as gunfighter Joe Danby.
In 1972, he played in four films: as the enemy and killer of John Wayne’s character in The Cowboys notable for his character cold-bloodedly shooting Wayne in the back. Wayne warned Dern, “America will hate you for this.” Dern wryly replied, “Yeah, but they’ll love me in Berkeley.”
In 1983, he won the Silver Bear for Best Actor at the 33rd Berlin International Film Festival for his role in That Championship Season.
His most recent efforts include the independent movies The Astronaut Farmer and Monster, a recurring role on the HBO series Big Love, and the monster movie Swamp Devil for RHI Films New York and the Sci Fi Channel.
On November 1, 2010, he was presented the 2,419th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. His daughter Laura Dern and his ex-wife Diane Ladd received stars on the same date. He was honored with a Legend Award at the inaugural Gold Coast International Film Festival on June 1, 2011.
1924 – (Billy) Dennis Weaver (actor: Gunsmoke, McCloud, Gentle Ben, Disaster at Silo 7, Lonesome Dove: The Series; died Feb 24, 2006)
1930 – Morgana King (jazz singer, actress: The Godfather, The Godfather Part 2, A Time to Remember)
1952 – Parker Stevenson (actor: The Hardy Boys Mysteries, Baywatch, Melrose Place, Falcon Crest)
1956 – Keith David (actor: Dead Presidents, The Quick and the Dead, The Last Outlaw, Final Analysis, Men at Work, Always, Bird, Platoon, The Thing, Crash, Agent Cody Banks, Hollywood Homicide, Barbershop, Novocaine, Semper Fi, The Replacements)
1958 – Eddie Velez (actor: Extremities, Bitter Vengeance, Rooftops, Romero, Split Decisions, Women’s Club, Doin’ Time, True Blue, Trial and Error, Charlie & Co., Berrenger’s, The A-Team, Traffic)
1968 – Scott Wolf (actor: Party of Five, The Evening Star, The Naked Dead)
1971 – Noah Wyle (actor: ER, Can’t Stop Dancing, Pirates of Silicon Valley, Scenes of the Crime)
1975 – Angelina Jolie (Voight) (Academy Award-winning supporting actress: Girl, Interrupted; Gia, George Wallace, Cyborg 2, Foxfire, Playing by Heart, Tomb Raider, Original Sin; daughter of actor Jon Voight)