Born: August 31, 1949
Date Of Birth: August 31, 1949
Richard Gere has become so emblematic of modern male urbanity that it's hard to believe he grew up in a pastoral farm setting in upstate New York. The second of five children in an artistic family, Gere attended the University of Massachusetts on a gymnastic scholarship following his graduation from high school in 1967. After two years of philosophy and drama studies he dropped out to launch an acting career. He acquitted himself well in a number of repertory productions on both coasts over the next couple of years before opting to strike out as a professional trumpet player. After settling in a commune of musicians in Vermont he soon left, finding the musicians more temperamental than actors. His next stop was New York City.
With an unsuccessful stage performance in the Big Apple, Gere crossed the pond to give the London theatrical world a try. There, he stepped into the role of macho gang leader Danny Zuko in Grease. Soon he returned to play the same role in the Broadway production of the musical.
After gaining a reputation in the theatrical world, Gere decided to make the transition to film with a part as a small-time pimp in the mediocre cop-corruption melodrama Report to the Commissioner (1975). Although the film had a lifeless reception, Gere's performance was commendable enough to warrant his casting as a shell-shocked, psychopathic soldier in the World War II drama Baby Blue Marine (1976), but it was his role in American Gigolo (1980) that made him a hot commodity.
Gere followed that success with a starring role with the 1982 military-romance blockbuster An Officer and a Gentleman. During this same year he converted from his Methodist roots to the Tibetan school of Buddhism.
In 1984, Gere was able to draw on his trumpet-playing skills for Francis Ford Coppola's The Cotton Club, but for the most part, the '80s did not do wonders for his movie career, as he blundered through a string of generally critically reviled and ego-deflating bombs like King David (1985), Power (1986) and Miles From Home (1988).
Off screen, Gere busied himself with fact-finding trips to Asia or Central America and was generally preoccupied with the exiled Dalai Lama and the state of Tibetan Buddhism. Over the years, Gere has successfully used his high visibility to promote various causes, the most notable of which has been his call for support for Tibetans oppressed by the Chinese government. To organize and advance his various activist causes, Gere founded the Tibet House in New York, as well as established the Gere Foundation.
In 1990, Gere rode triumphantly back into Hollywood with the $455-million hit Pretty Woman. Soon after the film, he was chosen in People Magazine as one of the most beautiful people in the World. Also in this year he married supermodel Cindy Crawford, but their union went through a flurry of generally unpleasant tabloid skepticism and ended in divorce in 1995.
Through the 90's Richard has had a number of hit-and-miss films. Completing a full circle with Julia Roberts: Pretty Woman to the present, Runaway Bride. In 2002, he took on the role of tap-dancing lawyer Billy Flynn in the hit musical film Chicago and won a Golden Globe for his efforts. Also in 2002, he married actress Carey Lowell, and the couple have a son together. He enjoyed the dancing scenes in Chicago so much that he accepted another role that required dancing skill, starring opposite Jennifer Lopez in Shall We Dance? (2004).
Gere has continued to appear in big-name films, his most recent being the thriller Arbitrage (2012) in which he plays a hedge fund magnate on the brink of losing his entire empire.
In 2006, Gere was named Man of the Year by the Hasting Pudding Theatricals. He has a son with second wife, actress Carey Lowell.