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David Zucker

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David Zucker
Zucker in 2016
David Samuel Zucker

(1947-10-16) October 16, 1947 (age 76)
Occupation(s)Film director, film producer, screenwriter
Years active1976–present
Danielle Ardolino
(m. 1997; div. 2019)
FamilyJerry Zucker (brother)

David Samuel Zucker (born October 16, 1947) is an American film director, producer, and screenwriter. Associated mostly with parody comedies, Zucker is recognized for collaborating with Jim Abrahams and his brother Jerry as part of Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker, with whom he wrote and directed the 1980 film Airplane! and created The Naked Gun franchise. As a solo filmmaker, Zucker also directed Scary Movie 3 (2003) and Scary Movie 4 (2006).



Zucker's movies include The Kentucky Fried Movie in 1977, Ruthless People in 1986, The Naked Gun in 1988, The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear in 1991, BASEketball in 1998, Scary Movie 3 in 2003, and its sequel Scary Movie 4 in 2006. Of 18 works with which he is associated, Phone Booth, which he produced in 2002 is the only non-comedic film.

He co-directed several films including Airplane! in 1980 and Top Secret! in 1984; along with his brother, Jerry, and Jim Abrahams, the trio make up the ZAZ team of directors. He has worked with Pat Proft (with whom he first teamed up on the Naked Gun show Police Squad!) and Craig Mazin (writer of three of the five Scary Movies). In 1987, both David and Jerry Zucker through Zucker Brothers Productions signed an agreement with Paramount Pictures for a two-year non-exclusive production agreement and development deal with the studio, and the brothers had anticipated on making four comedies for Paramount Pictures during the life of the pact. The first film was a feature film version of the early 1980s television show Police Squad!, which was originally cancelled after six episodes on the air.[1]

ZAZ and Proft helped develop the parody genre of films, in which jokes are spit out with rapid-fire, using puns, physical humor, wit, and double entendres. Some of the veteran actors of ZAZ's vision of parody include Leslie Nielsen, Lloyd Bridges, Charlie Sheen, Julie Hagerty, and Anna Faris (Faris starred in four of the Scary Movie series).

Looking back on his career in 2009, Leslie Nielsen said the best film he appeared in was The Naked Gun, and that David was his favorite director to work with. Nielsen said of him, "He came to me one time and said, 'Leslie, I'll never make you do anything that is not funny.' ... he kept his word."[2] Most consider his greatest work to be Airplane!, which has brought on many accolades (including preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress).

In his movies, his mother, Charlotte was often cast in a small bit part (like the lady trying to put on make-up in Airplane!, one of the Lucille Ball impersonators in Rat Race, and Vincent Ludwig's secretary, Dominique, in The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!).

David Zucker is an aficionado of Davy Crockett and collects memorabilia. He has said that his dream project is to make a biographical film, which he has spent time developing.[3][4] During the 1990s he regularly hosted a Davy Crockett Rifle Frolic at his ranch in Ojai, California.[5][4] Zucker wrote 11 updated verses to the song "The Ballad of Davy Crockett", which he claimed in 1992 that he had worked harder on those than on any of his scripts.[5] He made a cameo appearance in The Naked Gun 2½ dressed as Crockett.[3]

Zucker began to focus more on politics starting in 2004 when he began working on political ads for the Republican Party.[6] In 2008, he made the political parody movie An American Carol.[7] In 2015, he made a video he called Side Effects attacking President Barack Obama for the Iran nuclear deal in the form of a parody prescription drug ad.[8] In 2017, Zucker said that he was working on a script for a fourth Naked Gun film with Pat Proft. In 2018 he made a cameo appearance on the hidden camera TV series Impractical Jokers, where he was on FaceTime with cast member James Murray in a sketch trying to make the other person laugh.[9]

In 2021, Zucker announced his return to filmmaking with a new spoof film titled The Star of Malta.[10]

Personal life


Zucker was born to a Jewish family[11] in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the son of Charlotte Zucker and Burton C. Zucker, who was a real estate developer.[12][13] He graduated from Shorewood High School.[14] In 1997, David married Danielle Zucker, with whom he has two children, Charles and Sarah.[15] He and Danielle were divorced in 2019, although they had been separated for ten years before that.[16] His younger brother, Jerry, is his filmmaking partner. The Zucker brothers have a sister, Susan Breslau. When asked in a September 2014 interview by the BBC if he believes in God, David replied:

Oh yeah, I believe in God. I think there's much more evidence that there is a God than that there isn't. I don't believe that Mother Teresa and Hitler go to the same place. I believe in justice, maybe not in this life, but there has to be justice. And if there isn't a God, I think it would be very depressing. I'd prefer to believe there is.[17]



David Zucker has been an active supporter of TreePeople since 1988 and is now the longest continuously serving board member (1990) in the organization's history.[18]

He has been an advocate of solar-powered and electric cars since the '90s. "I can't complain about the smog in Los Angeles if I'm contributing to it," Zucker said to the Sun Sentinel in 1990.[19]

Recurring cast members


Among all of his directed and/or produced parody films, Zucker had frequently cast the late Leslie Nielsen.

Actor Airplane!
Ruthless People
Naked Gun: From
the Files of
Police Squad!

The Naked Gun
2½: The
Smell of Fear

My Boss'

Scary Movie 3
Scary Movie 4
An American

Scary Movie 5
Anthony Anderson ☒N ☒N
Carmen Electra ☒N ☒N
Anna Faris ☒N ☒N
Regina Hall ☒N ☒N
Kevin Hart ☒N ☒N
George Kennedy ☒N ☒N
Michael Madsen ☒N ☒N
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar ☒N ☒N
Robert Stack ☒N ☒N
Jenny McCarthy ☒N ☒N
Edward Moss ☒N ☒N
Leslie Nielsen ☒N ☒N ☒N ☒N ☒N ☒N
Priscilla Presley ☒N ☒N
Bill Pullman ☒N ☒N
Simon Rex ☒N ☒N ☒N ☒N
Molly Shannon ☒N ☒N ☒N
Charlie Sheen ☒N ☒N ☒N
O. J. Simpson ☒N ☒N
Ed Williams ☒N ☒N




Year Title Functioned as Notes
Director Writer Producer
1977 The Kentucky Fried Movie No Yes No with Jim Abrahams & Jerry Zucker
1980 Airplane! Yes Yes Executive
1984 Top Secret! Yes Yes Executive
1986 Ruthless People Yes No No
1988 The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! Yes Yes Executive
1991 The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear Yes Yes No
1992 Brain Donors No No Executive
1993 For Goodness Sake Yes Yes Yes Short film
1994 Naked Gun 33+13: The Final Insult No Yes Yes
1995 A Walk in the Clouds No No Yes
1996 High School High No Yes Yes
For Goodness Sake II No No Executive Short film
1998 BASEketball Yes Yes Yes Also executive music producer
2002 Phone Booth No No Yes
2003 My Boss's Daughter Yes No No Also wrote early draft screenplay
Scary Movie 3 Yes No No
2006 Scary Movie 4 Yes No No
2008 An American Carol Yes Yes Yes
The Onion Movie No No Yes
Superhero Movie No No Yes
2013 Scary Movie 5 No Yes Yes Also directed additional scenes
TBA The Star of Malta[20] Yes Yes Yes

Acting roles

Year Title Role Note
1977 The Kentucky Fried Movie Man / Technician #2 / Grunwald
1980 Airplane! Ground Crewman #2
1984 Top Secret! German Soldier in Prop Room
1991 The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear Davy Crockett
1994 Naked Gun 33+13: The Final Insult Teleprompter Guy
1995 Your Studio and You Himself Short film
1998 BASEketball Man with Shooting Hot Dog
2006 Scary Movie 4 Zoltar Voice role
2013 Scary Movie 5 Packer Fan
Other credits
Year Title Role
2019 MOSSAD! Creative consultant



TV series

Year Title Functioned as Notes
Creator Producer Writer
1976 Big John, Little John No No Yes writer of episode "Abracadabra" with Jim Abrahams & Jerry Zucker
1982 Police Squad! Yes Executive Yes director and writer of episode "A Substantial Gift (The Broken Promise)" with Jim Abrahams & Jerry Zucker

Other work

Year Title Functioned as Notes
Director Writer Producer
1987 Our Planet Tonight No No Executive TV movie
2000 H.U.D. Yes Yes Executive Unaired TV series pilot
Absolutely True No No Executive
2019 Late Night Berlin No No Creative Episode "Folge 42"

Acting roles

Year Title Role Note
1972 The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson Performer Part as Kentucky Fried Theater in one episode
1974 The Midnight Special
2018 Impractical Jokers Himself Episode: "Out of Left Field"
2020 Impractical Jokers: Dinner Party Episode: "The Soup's On Episode"




  1. ^ "Zucker Bros. Sign A 2-Year Par Pact". Variety. October 7, 1987. pp. 4, 119.
  2. ^ McEvoy, Colin (March 28, 2009). "Leslie Nielsen here? Surely you jest! MOVIE STAR SITS DOWN with students to kick off DeSales festival. And don't call him Shirley". The Express-Times. p. A1.
  3. ^ a b Marx, Andy (November 17, 1991). "You Mean Leslie Nielsen Won't Play Davy Crockett?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 15, 2021.
  4. ^ a b Holley, Joe (April 28, 2017). "Lighter side of Davy Crockett a serious pursuit to movie producer". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved January 15, 2021.
  5. ^ a b Marx, Andy (December 3, 1992). "Dressing up, getting down at Davy Crockett Rifle Frolic". Daily Variety. p. 19.
  6. ^ Ballon, Marc (October 5, 2006). "Comedy director David Zucker goes to GOP? You can't be serious!". Jewish Journal. Retrieved September 1, 2017.
  7. ^ Corliss, Richard (December 22, 2008). "Top 10 Worst Christmas Movies". Time – via entertainment.time.com.
  8. ^ "Airplane! Director's Attempt to Satirize Iran Deal Is Laughably Bad". www.mediaite.com. September 15, 2015.
  9. ^ Skubish, Jake (March 30, 2017). "Director David Zucker talks "Airplane!", comedy, getting his start on campus". Daily Cardinal. Retrieved June 12, 2017.
  10. ^ Kit, Borys (November 11, 2021). "'Naked Gun' Co-Creator David Zucker to Spoof Noir Movies With 'Star of Malta' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 16, 2021.
  11. ^ Desser, David; Friedman, Lester D. (2004). American Jewish Filmmakers. University of Illinois Press. p. 166. ISBN 9780252071539.
  12. ^ "David Zucker Biography (1947-)". www.filmreference.com.
  13. ^ "Charlotte A. Zucker's Obituary on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
  14. ^ "25 years and still laughing: 'Airplane!' maintains its cruising altitude with a non-stop zany attitude" Archived April 30, 2008, at the Wayback Machine, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, June 11, 2005. Accessed September 17, 2007. "The event is in honor of the volunteer service and philanthropy of Louise Abrahams Yaffe and her son Jim Abrahams, who wrote and directed "Airplane!" with fellow Shorewood High School and University of Wisconsin–Madison graduates David and Jerry Zucker."
  15. ^ Stein, Jeannine (August 27, 1997). "Home Weddings Add a Touch of the Heart". Los Angeles Times.
  16. ^ "Director David Zucker's divorce petition at risk of dismissal". hollywood.com. March 26, 2019.
  17. ^ Hennigan, Adam. "Calling the Shots: No.11: David Zucker". BBC. Retrieved March 23, 2017.
  18. ^ "Board of Directors". treepeople.org. Archived from the original on April 9, 2020. Retrieved January 9, 2020.
  20. ^ "'Naked Gun' Creator David Zucker to Spoof Noir Movies Next With 'The Star of Malta'". Collider. November 12, 2021. Retrieved November 24, 2021.