Paul Gleason

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Paul Gleason
Paul Gleason Breakfast Club.jpg
Gleason as Richard Vernon in The Breakfast Club (1985)
Born Paul Xavier Gleason
(1939-05-04)May 4, 1939
Jersey City, New Jersey, U.S.
Died May 27, 2006(2006-05-27) (aged 67)
Burbank, California, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1965–2006
Spouse(s) Candy Moore
(m. 1971-1978; divorced)
Susan Kehl
(m. 1995-2006; his death)

Paul Xavier Gleason (May 4, 1939 – May 27, 2006) was an American film and television actor, known for his roles on television series such as All My Children and films such as The Breakfast Club, Trading Places and Die Hard.

Early life[edit]

Gleason was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, the son of Eleanor (née Doyle), a registered nurse, and George L. Gleason, a restaurateur, professional boxer, iron worker, and roofing manufacturer.[1] Gleason was raised in Uleta, Florida (which has since been annexed into the City of North Miami Beach).[2] At age 16, he ran away from home and hitchhiked across the east coast, sleeping on beaches and playing baseball.[3][not in citation given] He attended North Miami High School and Florida State University where he played football. He signed a professional baseball contract with the Cleveland Indians, but played just briefly in two minor league seasons between 1959 and 1960.[4]

During that last season, a west coast trip led to an introduction to sitcom icon Ozzie Nelson, which, in turn, led to an appearance on Ozzie and Harriet (as per Nelson's habit of hiring athletes for guest spots on the show). Suddenly, acting was an option, and an increasingly attractive one, given Gleason's stillborn baseball career. He moved to New York City, eventually joining The Actors Studio,[5][6] where he would study for four years before moving to Los Angeles.[7]


Gleason starred in many movies, and became well-known initially as Dr. David Thornton on All My Children, playing the role from 1976 to 1978. He guest-starred in "The Trouble with Harry" and "Fire", two episodes of The A-Team. Gleason was known to Star Wars fans for his role as Jeremitt Towani in the 1985 made-for-TV film Ewoks: The Battle for Endor. He played the villainous Clarence Beeks, the Duke brothers' inside trader, in the 1983 comedy Trading Places starring Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy. He also played Deputy Police Chief Dwayne T. Robinson, the blowhard police official in Die Hard.

He is perhaps best remembered for his role as Richard Vernon, the gruff disciplinarian in the seminal 1985 film The Breakfast Club. He played similar characters several times, including on the television situation comedy Boy Meets World, in the films Johnny Be Good and Not Another Teen Movie, and in an A-Teens music video.

In 2002, he appeared in episodes of Dawson's Creek as Larry Newman, the sex-and-violence obsessed chief of a B movie studio.

He appeared as a nonsensical judge in an episode of Drake and Josh. He also appeared in an episode of George Lopez as the brother of George's boss, a crazy old drunk. His final appearance before his death was in an independent film called The Book of Caleb.

Personal life[edit]

Gleason, in addition to his acting career, participated in many celebrity golf events each year, and was known by hunting experts to mingle with fans and sign autographs during these golf tournaments. He was married to Susan Kehl and is survived by his wife, two daughters, Shannon and Kaitlin, and one granddaughter, Sofia.[citation needed]


Gleason died on May 27, 2006 at a Burbank, California hospital from pleural mesothelioma, a form of lung cancer connected with asbestos, which he is thought to have contracted from asbestos exposure on building sites while working for his father as a teenager. Gleason was 67 years old.[3] He was buried near the southeast corner of the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Westwood, Los Angeles.

Film and television credits[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1962 Panic in Year Zero! Gas Station Owner Acting and Film Debut; Uncredited
1965 Winter A-Go-Go Ski Resort Guest

It's About Time

Man Television Debut; One Episode
The Green Hornet Paul Garrett Television; One Episode
C'mon, Let's Live a Little Frat Boy Uncredited
The Invaders Alien Television; One Episode
1968 The F.B.I. Officer Dan Ryan Television; One Episode
1969 Then Came Bronson Deputy Television; One Episode
1971 Private Duty Nurses Dr. McClintock
Adam-12 Smitty Television; One Episode
1972 Where Does It Hurt? Role Unspecified
Mission: Impossible Blair Television; One Episode
Banacek Border Guard Television; One Episode
Adam-12 Patrolman Arnold Television; One Episode
Hit Man Cop Uncredited
Adam-12 Instructor Chuck Williams Television One Episode
1973 Little Laura and Big John Sheriff
1974 Adam-12 John Suntor Television; One Episode; As Paul Xavier Gleason
1975 Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze Maj. Thomas J. "Long Tom" Roberts
Columbo Parsons Television; One Episode
1976 Vigilante Force Michael J. Loonius As Paul X Gleason
1976-78 All My Children Dr. David Thornton Television
1979 Women at West Point Major James T. Kirk TV Movie
Ike Capt. Ernest "Tex" Lee Television Miniseries
The Great Santini Lt. Sammy
1980 Ike: The War Years Capt. Ernest "Tex" Lee TV Movie
He Knows You're Alone Det. Frank Daley
1981 Fort Apache the Bronx Detective
Arthur Executive
The Pursuit of D.B. Cooper Remson
Another Life Lee Carothers #1 Television
1982 MysteryDisc: Murder, Anyone? Stewart Cavanaugh Direct-to-Video Film
1983 MysteryDisc: Many Roads to Murder Direct-to-Video Film
Tender Mercies Reporter
Trading Places Clarence Beeks
1984 The A-Team Roy Kelsey
Scarecrow and Mrs. King Edson Ballon Television; One Episode
Remington Steele Sheriff Jeff 'Jed' Nebbins Television; One Episode
Cagney & Lacey Detective Crespi Television; One Episode
Call to Glory Marty Colby Television; One Episode
Hardcastle and McCormick Jack Fish Television; One Episode
Riptide Detective Commander Phillip Hallins Everitt Television; Two Episodes
Hill Street Blues Biff Lowe Television; Two Episodes
Magnum, P.I. Ronnie Meeder AKA Jacques Arnot Television; One Episode
1985 Doubletake Howie Henley TV Movie
The Breakfast Club Principal Richard Vernon
Challenge of a Lifetime John Schoonover TV Movie
Dallas Lt. Lee Spaulding Television; Three Episodes
Anything for Love Larry Worth TV Movie
Ewoks: The Battle for Endor Jeremitt TV Movie
1986 Superior Court Attorney Television
Kate & Allie Tom Fitzgerald Television; One Episode
The A-Team Harry Sullivan Television; One Episode
Miami Vice Bunny Berrigan Television; One Episode
Gimme a Break! Mr. Kimball Television; One Episode
The Equalizer Greenleaf Television; One Episode
1987 Hollywood Monster Stan Gordon
Beauty and the Beast Henry Dutton Television; One Episode
Forever, Lulu Robert
Falcon Crest Andy Stryker Television; One Episode
Sidekicks Fargo Television; One Episode
Morgan Stewart's Coming Home Jay Le Soto
1988 Die Hard Deputy Police Chief Dwayne T Robinson
Johnny Be Good Wayne Hisler
1990 Miami Blues Sgt. Frank Lackley
1994 Seinfeld Cushman Television; One Episode
1994-1996 One West Waikiki recurring role
1997 Money Talks Lt. Bobby Pickett
1997 Boy Meets World Dean Borak Television; Two Episodes
2001 Not Another Teen Movie Principal Richard "Dick" Vernon
2002 National Lampoon's Van Wilder Professor McDougal
2006 Drake and Josh Mr. Thompson


  1. ^ Paul Gleason Biography at Film Reference, Accessed November 15, 2010.
  2. ^ Uleta neighborhood of North Miami Beach
  3. ^ a b "Paul Gleason". Telegraph. May 30, 2006.
  4. ^ "Paul Gleason Statistics and History". Retrieved 2010-08-18. 
  5. ^ Anderson, Jack E. (1976-09-10). "One Of 'Children' Takes Off". The St. Petersburg Evening Independent. p. 12-B. Retrieved 2012-12-11. 
  6. ^ Garfield, David (1980). "Appendix: Life Members of The Actors Studio as of January 1980". A Player's Place: The Story of The Actors Studio. New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc. p. 278. ISBN 0-02-542650-8. 
  7. ^ Woods, Sherri (1975-11-28). "Paul Gleason: Miamian Stars as Soaps' Newest Angry Young Man". The Miami News. p. 15. Retrieved 2012-12-11. 

Further reading[edit]

Voisin, Scott, "Character Kings: Hollywood's Familiar Faces Discuss the Art & Business of Acting." BearManor Media, 2009. ISBN 978-1-59393-342-5.

External links[edit]