Dennis Dugan

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Dennis Dugan
Dennis Barton Dugan

(1946-09-05) September 5, 1946 (age 74)
EducationArt Institute of Chicago (BFA)
OccupationFilm director, actor, comedian
Years active1968–present
(m. 1973; div. 1987)

Sharon O'Connor (present)
Children1 son

Dennis Barton Dugan (born September 5, 1946) is an American director, actor, writer, artist and comedian. He is known for his partnership with comedic actor Adam Sandler, with whom he directed the films Happy Gilmore (1996), Big Daddy (1999), I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry (2007), You Don't Mess with the Zohan (2008), Grown Ups (2010), Just Go with It (2011), Jack and Jill (2011), and Grown Ups 2 (2013). Dugan is a four-time Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Director nominee, winning once.

Life and career[edit]

Dugan was born in Wheaton, Illinois, the second of four sons of Marion, a housewife, and Charles Dugan, an insurance salesman. He graduated from Goodman School of Drama at the Art Institute of Chicago (now at DePaul University) and started his acting career in 1969 in New York City. He moved to Hollywood in 1972 and appeared in his first TV show, The Sixth Sense. Later, he played in the 1973 TV movie The Girl Most Likely to.... Other early film appearances include Night Call Nurses (1972), Night Moves (1975), Smile (1975), Harry and Walter Go to New York (1976) and Norman... Is That You? (1976). In 1979, he was cast as the time-displaced hero in Unidentified Flying Oddball, Disney's very loose adaptation of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. In 1981, he appeared in Joe Dante's adaptation of The Howling.

Dugan made guest appearances on several TV series during the 1970s including The Mod Squad, The Waltons, Cannon, Columbo, The Rockford Files, and Alice. He also appeared in the mini-series Rich Man, Poor Man, as well as two episodes of M*A*S*H and in 1978 starred in the short-lived series Richie Brockelman, Private Eye, a spin-off from The Rockford Files.

He took on a recurring role as an aspiring caped crusader who called himself "Captain Freedom" on Hill Street Blues.[1] He also appeared on Empire (1984) and Shadow Chasers (1984). He played Walter Bishop, briefly the husband of Maddie Hayes (Cybill Shepherd) on Moonlighting.[2] Dugan's other film credits of the 1980s include Water (1985), Can't Buy Me Love (1987), The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking (1988) and Ron Howard's Parenthood (1989).

Dugan launched a career as a television and film director, making cameo appearances in many of his films. Ones he directed include the comedy Problem Child (1990), Brain Donors (1992),[3] the comedy Saving Silverman (2001) (in which Dugan plays a football referee), the comedy National Security (2003), and the Adam Sandler comedies Happy Gilmore (1996) (in which Dugan plays Doug Thompson, the golf tour supervisor) and Big Daddy (1999) (with Dugan as a man who reluctantly gives candy to a trick-or-treating Julian). Dugan has directed episodes of such television series as Moonlighting (was also a guest star in some episodes), Ally McBeal, and NYPD Blue.

Dugan directed The Benchwarmers (2006), a comedy co-produced by Sandler, about a trio of men who try to make up for missed opportunities in childhood by forming a three-player baseball team to compete against Little League squads. Dugan himself has a bit part as Coach Bellows. He then directed two more Sandler vehicles, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry (2007) and You Don't Mess with the Zohan (2008).

Dugan directed Grown Ups (2010), which follows a group of high school friends who are reunited after thirty years for the Fourth of July. The film again stars Sandler, along with Kevin James, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider, and David Spade; it was released in the summer of 2010 with major box office success.

Dugan's Just Go with It (2011) was his sixth film with Sandler; it also starred Jennifer Aniston and Brooklyn Decker. Dugan directed Jack and Jill (2011), again with Sandler, and Grown Ups 2 (2013), with Sandler, James, Rock and Spade, all reprising their roles. Schneider was unable to do so due to scheduling conflicts.

To date, Dugan's films have grossed over $1.8 billion worldwide.[4]

Personal life[edit]

Dugan's first marriage was to actress Joyce Van Patten in 1973. They divorced in 1987, and he later wed Sharon O'Connor, to whom he is still married.

In June 2009, Dugan's son, Kelly, was drafted with the 75th overall selection by the Philadelphia Phillies in the Major League Baseball Draft. A graduate of Notre Dame High School of Sherman Oaks, California, he has played for four of the club's minor league teams, including the Gulf Coast League Phillies, Reading Fightin' Phils, Williamsport Crosscutters, and Lakewood BlueClaws.[5]



As actor
Title Year Notes
Norman... Is That You? 1976 as Garson Hobart
Unidentified Flying Oddball 1979 as Tom Trimble
The Howling 1981 as Chris Halloran
Can't Buy Me Love 1987 as David Miller
She's Having a Baby 1988 as Bill
The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking 1988 as Mr. Settigren
Parenthood 1989 as David Brodsky
As director
Title Year Notes
Problem Child 1990
Brain Donors 1992
Happy Gilmore 1996 as Doug Thompson
Beverly Hills Ninja 1997
Big Daddy 1999 Nominated—Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Director
Saving Silverman 2001 Also known as Evil Woman
National Security 2003
The Benchwarmers 2006 as Coach Bellows
I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry 2007 Nominated—Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Director
You Don't Mess with the Zohan 2008
Grown Ups 2010 as Basketball Referee
Just Go with It 2011 Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Director
Jack and Jill
Grown Ups 2 2013 Nominated—Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Director
Love, Weddings & Other Disasters 2020


Title Year Notes
Cannon 1974 Episode: "The Deadly Trail"
Columbo 1976 Episode: "Last Salute to the Commodore"
The Rockford Files 1978/79 3 episodes
Richie Brockelman, Private Eye 1978 5 episodes
Hill Street Blues 1982 4 episodes
Hunter 1987 2 episodes
Wiseguy 1988 Episode: "Phantom Pain"
Moonlighting 1988–1989 5 episodes
Shadow Chasers 1985-1986 14 episodios
M*A*S*H 1975, 1983 2 episodes
Doogie Howser, M.D. 1993 Episode: "What Makes Doogie Run"
Columbo 1993 Episode: "Butterfly in Shades of Grey"
Burke's Law 1994 Episode: "Who Killed Nick Hazard?"
L.A. Law 1993–1994 2 episodes
Traps 1994
The Byrds of Paradise 1994 2 episodes
The Shaggy Dog 1994 TV movie
Marker 1995 Episode: "The Pilot"
Picket Fences 1994–1995 2 episodes
Chicago Hope 1995 Episode: "Freeze Outs"
Love Boat: The Next Wave 1998 Episode: "Smooth Sailing"
Ally McBeal 1998 Episode: "Alone Again"
Shasta McNasty 1999 Episode: "Pilot"
A Screwball Homicide 2003 TV movie
NYPD Blue 1993–2004
The Mullets 2004 Episode: "Silent But Deadly"
Karroll's Christmas 2004 TV movie
Hope & Faith 2005 Episode: "Wife Swap" (Parts 1 and 2)


  1. ^ Weisman, Jon (December 3, 2010). "Remembering Dennis Dugan and Captain Freedom on 'Hill Street Blues'". Variety. Retrieved May 22, 2020.
  2. ^ Kaufman, Joanne; Sheff, Viki (March 28, 1988). "Moonlighting's New Groom, Dennis Dugan, May Be Tv's Most Hated Hubby". People.
  3. ^ Maslin, Janet (April 18, 1992). "A Night At the Ballet Run Amok". The New York Times.
  4. ^ Heisler, Steve (3 December 2010). "Dennis Dugan: A quiet hitmaker". Variety. Retrieved 17 September 2017.
  5. ^ "Kelly Dugan Minor League Statistics & History". Retrieved 31 August 2018.

External links[edit]