Bruce Dern Biography

Bruce Dern photo

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.

Bruce was one of the stars of Hitchcock’s final film Family Plot, and again showed his talent in Black Sunday, this time playing a psychotic pilot who launches a terrorist attack on the Super Bowl.

It was his next role, however, that earned him the most acclaim, when he played Captain Bob Hyde in the 1978 film Coming Home. For his supporting role in the movie, he earned both an Academy Award nomination and a 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.

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.

Most recently, Bruce appeared in Quentin Tarantino's ensemble drama, The Hateful Eight (2015).


The Hateful Eight(2015)
Cut Bank(2015)
Northern Borders (2013)
Coffin Baby (2013)
Django Unchained(2012)
Hitting the Cycle (2012)
Inside Out(2011)
From Up on Poppy Hill(2011)
Trim (2010)
The Lightkeepers(2009)
The Hole(2009)
American Cowslip(2009)
The Golden Boys (2008)
Swamp Devil (2008)
The Death and Life of Bobby Z (2007)
The Cake Eaters(2007)
The Hard Easy (2006)
The Astronaut Farmer(2006)
Walker Payne (2006)
Believe in Me (2006)
Down in the Valley (2005)
Monster (2003)
Milwaukee, Minnesota (2003)
Masked and Anonymous(2003)
The Glass House(2001)
All the Pretty Horses(2000)
If… Dog… Rabbit (1999)
The Haunting(1999)
Small Soldiers(1998)
Last Man Standing(1996)
Down Periscope (1996)
Mulholland Falls (1995)
Wild Bill (1995)
Mrs. Munck (1995)
Diggstown (1992)
After Dark, My Sweet (1990)
The ‘Burbs (1989)
1969 (1988)
World Gone Wild (1988)
The Big Town (1987)
On the Edge 1986)
Harry Tracy: Dead of Alive (1982)
That Championship Season (1982)
Tattoo (1981)
Middle Age Crazy (1980)
The Driver(1978)
Coming Home(1978)
Black Sunday(1977)
The Twist (1976)
Won Ton Ton: The Dog Who Saved Hollywood (1976)
Family Plot(1976)
Smile (1975)
Posse (1975)
The Great Gastby (1974)
The Laughing Policeman (1973)
Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (1973)
The King of Marvin Gardens(1972)
Thumb Tripping (1972)
Silent Running(1972)
The Cowboys (1972)
Drive, He Said(1981)
The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant (1971)
The Rebel Rousers (1970)
Bloody Mama (1970)
They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1969)
The Cycle Savages (1969)
Number One (1969)
Castle Keep (1969)
Support Your Local Sherriff! (1969)
Hang ‘Em High (1968)
Psycho-Out (1968)
Will Penny (1968)
Waterhole #3 (1967)
The Trip(1967)
The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre (1967)
The War Wagon (1967)
The Wild Angels (1966)
Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964)
Wild River(1960)
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