David Zucker

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David Zucker
Born
David Lee Zucker

(1947-10-16) October 16, 1947 (age 73)
OccupationFilm director, film producer, screenwriter
Years active1976–present
Spouse(s)Danielle Ardolino (1997–2019; 2 children)
FamilyJerry Zucker (brother)

David S. Zucker (born October 16, 1947) is an American film director, producer, and screenwriter. Associated mostly with parody comedies, Zucker is recognized as the director and writer of the critically successful 1980 film Airplane! as well as being the creator of The Naked Gun franchise and for directing Scary Movie 3 and Scary Movie 4.

Personal life[edit]

Zucker was born to a Jewish family[1] in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the son of Charlotte A. (Lefstein) and Burton C. Zucker, who was a real estate developer.[2][3] He graduated from Shorewood High School.[4] In 1997, Zucker married Dr. Danielle (Ardolino) Zucker, with whom he has two children, Charles and Sarah.[5] He and Danielle were divorced in 2019, though they had been separated for ten years before that.[6] 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, Zucker 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.[7]

Career[edit]

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. Out of 18 works he is associated with, 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 also 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).

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 Zucker 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.' And he kept his word."[8] 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!).

Zucker has stated that his dream project is a Davy Crockett biographical film. He mentioned his enthusiasm for the Davy Crockett project during an interview in 2006 for the feature-length documentary, That Guy: The Legacy of Dub Taylor,[9] on the life of Dub Taylor, which has received support from the Taylor Family and many of Dub's previous co-workers, including Bill Cosby, Peter Fonda, Dixie Carter, Don Collier, Cheryl Rogers-Barnett, as well as others. The project had its World Premiere at Taylor's Childhood Hometown of Augusta, Georgia on April 14, 2007. The project is from Executive Producers Stokes and James Kicklighter from JamesWorks Entertainment and Professor Pauper Productions. Part of his interview is on YouTube.[10]

Zucker began to focus more on politics starting in 2004 when he began working on political ads for the Republican Party.[11] In 2008, he made the political parody movie An American Carol.[12] 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.[13][14] 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 show Impractical Jokers. He was on FaceTime with James Murray for a sketch to make the other person laugh.[15]

Environmental work[edit]

Zucker has been an active supporter of Tree People since 1988 and is now the longest continuously serving board member (1990) in the organization's history.[16]

Zucker 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.[17]

Recurring cast members[edit]

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

BASEketball
My Boss'
Daughter

Scary Movie 3
Scary Movie 4
An American
Carol

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
Jenny McCarthy ☒N ☒N
Edward Moss ☒N ☒N ☒N
Leslie Nielsen ☒N ☒N ☒N ☒N ☒N ☒N
Priscilla Presley ☒N ☒N
Bill Pullman ☒N ☒N
Simon Rex ☒N ☒N ☒N
Molly Shannon ☒N ☒N
Charlie Sheen ☒N ☒N
O. J. Simpson ☒N ☒N
Ed Williams ☒N ☒N

Filmography[edit]

Films[edit]

Year Title Functioned as Notes
Director Writer Producer
1977 The Kentucky Fried Movie No Yes No
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
1993 For Goodness Sake Yes Yes Yes Short film
1994 Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final Insult No Yes Yes
1996 High School High No Yes Yes
1998 BASEketball Yes Yes Yes Also executive music producer
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
2013 Scary Movie 5 No Yes Yes Also assistant director / reshoots
TBA Spaghetti Versus Noodle No Yes No

Acting Roles[edit]

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 33⅓: 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

Television[edit]

Year Title Functioned as Notes
Director Writer Producer
1982 Police Squad! Yes Yes Executive Creator;
Episode "A Substantial Gift (The Broken Promise)"
1987 Our Planet Tonight No No Executive TV Movie
2000 H.U.D. Yes Yes Executive
Absolutely True No No Executive
2019 Late Night Berlin No No Creative Episode "Folge 42"

Acting Roles[edit]

Year Title Role Note
1972 The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson Performer Part as Kentucky Fried Theatre in one episode
1974 The Midnight Special

Songwriter[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Desser, David; Friedman, Lester D. American Jewish Filmmakers. p. 166. ISBN 9780252071539. Cite has empty unknown parameter: |1= (help)
  2. ^ "David Zucker Biography (1947-)". www.filmreference.com.
  3. ^ "Charlotte A. Zucker's Obituary on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
  4. ^ "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."
  5. ^ Stein, Jeannine (August 27, 1997). "Home Weddings Add a Touch of the Heart". Los Angeles Times.
  6. ^ "Director David Zucker's divorce petition at risk of dismissal". hollywood.com.
  7. ^ Hennigan, Adam. "Calling the Shots: No.11: David Zucker". BBC. Retrieved March 23, 2017.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ "That Guy: The Legacy of Dub Taylor". Archived from the original on September 29, 2007.
  10. ^ Behind the Scenes of "That Guy: The Legacy of Dub Taylor" on YouTube
  11. ^ Ballon, Marc (October 5, 2006). "Comedy director David Zucker goes to GOP? You can't be serious!". Jewish Journal. Retrieved September 1, 2017.
  12. ^ Corliss, Richard. "Top 10 Worst Christmas Movies" – via entertainment.time.com.
  13. ^ "Airplane! Director's Attempt to Satirize Iran Deal Is Laughably Bad". www.mediaite.com.
  14. ^ "Director David Zucker Targets 'Idiotic' Iran Deal With Satire". September 18, 2015.
  15. ^ Skubish, Jake (March 30, 2017). "Director David Zucker talks "Airplane!", comedy, getting his start on campus". Daily Cardinal. Retrieved June 12, 2017.
  16. ^ "Board of Directors". treepeople.org. Retrieved January 9, 2020.
  17. ^ "INTEREST IN ELECTRIC CARS SURGES SPIRALING GAS PRICES, AIR POLLUTION SPARK PRODUCTION, PROTOTYPES". sunsentinel.com. October 7, 1990. Retrieved January 9, 2020.

External links[edit]