Born: June 04, 1936
Date of Birth: June 4, 1936
Bruce Dern was born in Chicago, Illinois to parents Jean and John Dern. He attended the New Trier Township High School East and went on to study at the University of Pennsylvania.
Bruce had his start in theater when he starred in a 1959 production and caught the eye of famed director Elia Kazan. The actor was invited to train at the Actors Studio in New York and it was there that he fell in love with his co-star, Diane Ladd. They married in 1960 and had one child, Laura, before divorcing in 1969.
Bruce’s first film was an uncredited role in Elia Kazan’s movie Wild River in 1960. After a number of guest appearances on popular TV series of the day, such as Route 66 and Sea Hunt, he landed a regular role on the series Stoney Burke, which lasted one season. In 1964, Bruce played a small role in Alfred Hitchcock’s film Marnie and a supporting role in Robert Aldrich’s Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte. He went on to star in a variety of films and TV shows throughout the decade, including many westerns such as Wagon Train, Bonanza, Rawhide and The Virginian. He also guest-starred numerous time on the series The Fugitive.
In 1969, Bruce took on a different type of role, starring in the Depression-set drama They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? but returned to western films, starring in Support Your Local Sheriff! alongside James Garner and Walter Brennan. Bruce teamed up with Jack Nicholson in the 1971 drama Drive, He Said, for which he earned a National Society of Film Critics Best Supporting Actor award. He went on to play the role of enemy and killer of John Wayne’s character in The Cowboys. Due to that role, Bruce received death threats from John Wayne fans, but his talent was appreciated by film critics. He shared a Bronze Wrangler award with his co-stars from the Western Heritage Awards.
By this point in time, Bruce was well-established as a talented character actor. In 1972, he once again joined forces with Jack Nicholson to play a con man in The King of Marvin Gardens. In 1974, Bruce played Tom Buchanan in the film adaptation of The Great Gatsby, for which he received his first Golden Globe nomination.
In the early 1980s, Bruce starred in movies such as Middle Age Crazy, Tattoo and That Championship Season, which were all disappointments at the box office. In 1983, his career had a boost when he won the Silver Bear for Best Actor at the 33rd Berlin International Film Festival for his role in That Championship Season. During this time, he also received two Genie Award nominations for his work in Middle Age Crazy and Harry Tracy, Desperado.
Over the years, Bruce has had a steady film career and continues to win nominations and awards, including a 2011 Emmy nomination as Guest Actor in a Drama Series for Big Love, and Best Actor at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival and an Academy Award nomination for his performance in Nebraska.
Bruce then appeared in Quentin Tarantino's ensemble drama, The Hateful Eight (2015) and Nostalgia (2018). He also played patriarch Joe Kennedy in tje biopic Chappaquiddick (2018), about the tragic accident in which senator Ted Kennedy drove a car off a bridge, leaving a woman to drown as he escaped.
In 2010, Bruce was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6270 Hollywood Boulevard. His daughter, Golden Globe-winning actress Laura Dern and ex-wife Diane Ladd, also a Golden Globe winner as well as being a three-time Oscar nominee, received stars on the same day.