Dennis Quaid

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Dennis Quaid
Quaid at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival.
Dennis William Quaid

(1954-04-09) April 9, 1954 (age 68)
Houston, Texas, U.S.
Alma materUniversity of Houston
Years active1975–present
  • (m. 1978; div. 1983)
  • (m. 1991; div. 2001)
  • Kimberly Buffington
    (m. 2004; div. 2018)
  • Laura Savoie
    (m. 2020)
Children3, including Jack Quaid

Dennis William Quaid (born April 9, 1954)[1] is an American actor known for a wide variety of dramatic and comedic roles. First gaining widespread attention in the late 1970s, some of his notable credits include Breaking Away (1979), The Right Stuff (1983), The Big Easy (1986), Innerspace (1987), Great Balls of Fire! (1989), Dragonheart (1996), The Parent Trap (1998), Frequency (2000), The Rookie (2002), In Good Company (2004), Yours, Mine & Ours (2005), and Vantage Point (2008).

His other film credits include Any Given Sunday (1999), Traffic (2000), The Alamo (2004), The Day After Tomorrow (2004), Flight of the Phoenix (2004), American Dreamz (2006), Battle for Terra (2007), G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009), Footloose (2011), Soul Surfer (2011), Beneath the Darkness (2012), Playing for Keeps (2012), Truth (2015), The Pretenders (2018), Midway (2019), The Intruder (2019), Blue Miracle (2021), and American Underdog (2021). For his role in Far from Heaven (2002), he won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor among other accolades. The Guardian named him one of the best actors never to have received an Academy Award nomination.[2]

Early life[edit]

Dennis William Quaid was born in Houston, Texas, the son of Juanita Bonnie Dale "Nita" (née Jordan), a real estate agent, and William Rudy Quaid (November 21, 1923 – February 8, 1987), an electrician.[citation needed] Quaid has English, Irish, Scots-Irish, and Cajun (French) ancestry.[3] Through his father, Quaid is a first cousin, twice removed, of cowboy performer Gene Autry.[4] He attended Paul W. Horn Elementary School in Bellaire, and Pershing Middle School in Houston. He studied Mandarin and dance at Bellaire High School in Bellaire, Texas, and later in college, at the University of Houston, under drama coach Cecil Pickett, who had previously taught at Bellaire High and whose daughter is actress Cindy Pickett. He was raised in the Baptist faith.[5][6] Dennis is the younger brother of actor Randy Quaid.


Quaid dropped out of the University of Houston before graduating and moved to Hollywood to pursue an acting career.[3] He initially had trouble finding work but began to gain notice when he appeared in Breaking Away (1979) and earned good reviews for his role as astronaut Gordon Cooper in The Right Stuff (1983).[3]

Known for his grin,[7] Quaid has appeared in both comedic and dramatic roles.[3] Quaid had starring roles in the films The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia (1981),[8] Jaws 3-D (1983), Dreamscape (1984), Enemy Mine (1985), Innerspace (1987) and The Big Easy (1987). He also achieved acclaim for his portrayal of Jerry Lee Lewis in Great Balls of Fire! (1989).[3] In 1989, he also appeared throughout the Bonnie Raitt music video for the song "Thing Called Love."[9]

Quaid's career lost steam in the early 1990s, after he fought anorexia nervosa brought on when he lost 40 pounds to play the tuberculosis-afflicted Doc Holliday in Wyatt Earp[10] and recovered from a cocaine addiction.[3] He continued to garner positive reviews in a variety of films, however.[3] Quaid was also the guest star of a season 2 episode of Muppets Tonight (1997). He starred in the lead role in the 1996 adventure film Dragonheart, the remake of The Parent Trap (1998), playing the part of the twins' father, and as an aging pro football quarterback in Oliver Stone's Any Given Sunday (1999). In 1998, he made his debut as a film director with Everything That Rises, a television movie western in which he also starred.[11]

Some of Quaid's film credits include Frequency (2000), Dinner with Friends (2001), The Rookie (2002), Far from Heaven (2002), Cold Creek Manor (2003), Flight of the Phoenix (2004), The Alamo (2004), In Good Company (2004), The Day After Tomorrow (2004), Yours, Mine & Ours (2005), Vantage Point (2008), G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009), and Pandorum (2009).

In 2009, Quaid guest starred in an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants, playing Mr. Krabs' grandfather, Captain Redbeard.

He portrayed U.S. President Bill Clinton, alongside Michael Sheen as Tony Blair and Hope Davis as Hillary Clinton, in the 2010 film The Special Relationship.

In 2012 and 2013, Quaid played Sheriff Ralph Lamb in the CBS TV drama series Vegas.

In 2017, he starred in A Dog's Purpose as Ethan Montgomery, billed as "a celebration of the special connection between humans and their dogs".[12]

In 2018, Quaid starred in I Can Only Imagine, where he played Arthur Millard, the father of singer and songwriter Bart Millard, and Kin, where he plays Hal, the father of the film's two protagonists.

In 2019, he portrayed Vice Admiral William 'Bull' Halsey (He later became Fleet Admiral.) in "Midway."

Quaid with cast from Midway in 2019

In March 2018, it was confirmed by director Sean McNamara that Quaid would portray President Ronald Reagan in an upcoming biopic, titled Reagan,[13] this would be the second time Quaid portrayed a U.S. president.[14] The film was slated to have a summer 2019 release, however it is still in pre-production [13] and was scheduled to begin filming in May 2020, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[15]

Personal life[edit]

Relationships and children[edit]

Quaid has been married four times and has three children.

Quaid met his first wife, actress P. J. Soles, on the set of the film Our Winning Season.[16] They were married in 1978. The couple divorced in 1983.[17]

On February 14, 1991, Quaid married actress Meg Ryan. Quaid and Ryan fell in love during the shooting of their second film together, D.O.A.[18] Quaid and Ryan have a son, Jack Henry Quaid (born April 24, 1992).[19] Quaid and Ryan announced their separation on June 28, 2000, saying they had been separated six weeks by then.[18] Their divorce was finalized in July 2001.[20]

Quaid dated model Shanna Moakler from February 2001 to October 2001.[21][22]

Quaid married Texas real-estate agent Kimberly Buffington, on July 4, 2004, at his ranch in Paradise Valley, Montana.[23] They have fraternal twins who were born via a surrogate on November 8, 2007, in Santa Monica, California.[24][25]

On November 18, 2007, hospital staff mistakenly gave Quaid's ten-day-old twins a dosage of heparin (a blood thinner) that was 1,000 times the common dosage for infants.[26][27] The babies recovered, but Quaid filed a lawsuit against the drug manufacturer, Baxter Healthcare, claiming that packaging for the two doses of heparin are not different enough.[28] In May 2008, the Quaids testified before the United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, asking U.S. Congress not to preempt the right to sue drug manufacturers for negligence under state law.[29] This incident led Quaid to become a patient-safety advocate, producing a series of documentaries on preventable medical errors that aired on the Discovery Channel[30][31] as well as co-authoring a medical journal article addressing the positive influence of patient stories in motivating change in healthcare.[32] The first documentary, Chasing Zero: Winning the War on Healthcare Harm, aired on the Discovery Channel in 2010,[30][31] and the second documentary, Surfing the Healthcare Tsunami: Bring Your Best Board, aired on the Discovery Channel in 2012.[33][34][35][36]

Buffington filed for divorce from Quaid in March 2012.[37] Buffington's attorney then withdrew the divorce papers on April 26, 2012.[38] In the summer of 2012, Quaid and Buffington moved to California.[39] In October 2012, Quaid and Buffington again decided to separate, and Buffington filed for legal separation, seeking joint legal and sole physical custody of the twins.[40] After waiting to establish the required six months of residency in California, Quaid filed for divorce on November 30, 2012, asking for joint legal and physical custody of the children and offering to pay spousal support to Buffington.[39] They then reconciled and the divorce was dismissed by September 2013.[41] On June 28, 2016, the couple announced in a joint statement that they were divorcing, with Buffington asking for full physical custody and joint legal custody.[42] The divorce was finalized on April 27, 2018.

Following his separation from Buffington, Quaid dated model Santa Auzina from July 2016 to 2019.[43][44][45]

On October 21, 2019, Quaid confirmed his engagement to Laura Savoie.[46] After postponing their original wedding date due to the COVID-19 pandemic,[15] they married on June 2, 2020, in Santa Barbara.[47]


Quaid is a Christian, writing the Christian song "On My Way to Heaven" dedicated to his mother and included in the film I Can Only Imagine, in which he starred.[48]


In addition to acting, Quaid is a musician and plays with his band, the Sharks. He wrote and performed the song "Closer to You" in the film The Big Easy (1987). Quaid also has a pilot's license and owned a Cessna Citation.[49] He is also a one-handicap golfer, and in 2005, he was named as the top golfer among the "Hollywood set" by Golf Digest magazine.

Quaid is a fan of the Houston Astros, and after the team's 2005 National League Championship-winning season, he narrated their commemorative DVD release. After the filming of The Express: The Ernie Davis Story, Quaid went to Cleveland Browns Stadium to dedicate Davis's jersey.

Quaid began podcasting during 2020. He started The Pet Show with Dennis Quaid and Jimmy Jellinek. Its first episode premiered on July 10, 2020.[50] During that podcast, he learned of a cat in Lynchburg, Virginia also named Dennis Quaid.[51] He adopted the cat and flew it out to California to live at his recording studio.[52]

Substance use[edit]

There have been extensive stories about Quaid's past abuse of cocaine. In a candid 2002 interview with Larry King on his talk show, after King asked about his motives for using drugs, Quaid responded, "Well, you got to put it in context. Back in the late 1960s, early 1970s. That was back during the time where, you know, drugs were going to expand our minds and everybody was experimenting and everything. We were really getting high, we didn't know it. And cocaine at that time was considered harmless. You know. I remember magazine articles in People Magazine of doctors saying it is not addicting. It is just—alcohol is worse. So I think we all fell into that. But that's not the way it was." When asked if he believed he had ever been addicted to the drugs, he responded, "It was a gradual thing. But it got to the point where I couldn't have any fun unless I had it. Which is a bad place to be." Later in the interview he said, "But I saw myself being dead in about five years if I didn't stop."[53]

Political views[edit]

In a 2018 interview with The New York Post, Quaid stated he was a registered independent and has voted for both Democratic and Republican candidates, saying that he did not consider himself an adherent to any particular ideology; though he did opine that Ronald Reagan was his favorite U.S. president of his lifetime.[54] In April 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Quaid stated that President Donald Trump was handling the pandemic well, calling him "involved".[55] He subsequently recorded an interview with infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci as part of an advertising campaign by the Department of Health and Human Services to "defeat despair" surrounding COVID-19.[56] Quaid later denied the ad was political in nature.[57]



Year Title Role Notes Ref(s)
1975 Crazy Mama Bellhop Uncredited [citation needed]
1977 I Never Promised You a Rose Garden Shark, Baseball Pitcher
September 30, 1955 Frank
1978 Our Winning Season Paul Morelli
The Seniors Alan
1979 Breaking Away Mike
1980 The Long Riders Ed Miller
Gorp Mad Grossman
1981 All Night Long Freddie Dupler
Caveman Lar
The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia Travis Child
Stripes Extra at Graduation Ceremony Uncredited [58]
1983 Tough Enough Art Long
Jaws 3-D Michael "Mike" Brody
The Right Stuff Gordon Cooper
1984 Dreamscape Alex Gardner
1985 Enemy Mine Willis Davidge
1987 The Big Easy Det. Lt. Remy McSwain
Innerspace Lt. Tuck Pendleton
Suspect Eddie Sanger
1988 D.O.A. Dexter Cornell
Everybody's All-American Gavin Grey
1989 Great Balls of Fire! Jerry Lee Lewis
1990 Come See the Paradise Jack McGurn
Postcards from the Edge Jack Faulkner
1993 Wilder Napalm Wallace Foudroyant/Biff the Clown
Undercover Blues Jefferson "Jeff" Blue
Flesh and Bone Arlis Sweeney
1994 A Century of Cinema Himself Documentary
Wyatt Earp Doc Holliday
1995 Something to Talk About Eddie Bichon
1996 Dragonheart Bowen
1997 Gang Related Joe Doe/William
Switchback Frank LaCrosse
1998 The Parent Trap Nicholas "Nick" Parker
Savior Joshua Rose/Guy
Playing by Heart Hugh
1999 Any Given Sunday Jack "Cap" Rooney
2000 Frequency Frank Sullivan
Traffic Arnie Metzger
2002 The Rookie Jim Morris
Far from Heaven Frank Whitaker
2003 Cold Creek Manor Cooper Tilson
2004 The Alamo Sam Houston
The Day After Tomorrow Jack Hall
In Good Company Dan Foreman
Flight of the Phoenix Frank Towns
2005 Yours, Mine & Ours Rear Admiral Frank Beardsley, USCG
2006 American Dreamz President Joseph Staton
2007 Battle for Terra Roven Voice role
2008 Vantage Point Thomas Barnes
Smart People Lawrence Wetherhold
The Express: The Ernie Davis Story Ben Schwartzwalder
2009 Horsemen Aidan Breslin
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra General Clayton M. Abernathy / Hawk
Pandorum Payton
2010 Legion Bob Hanson
2011 Soul Surfer Tom Hamilton
Footloose Rev. Shaw Moore
2012 Beneath the Darkness Vaughn Ely
What to Expect When You're Expecting Ramsey
The Words Clay Hammond
Playing for Keeps Carl King
At Any Price Henry Whipple
2013 Movie 43 Charlie Wessler Segment: "The Pitch"
2015 Truth Col. Roger Charles
2017 A Dog's Purpose Adult Ethan Montgomery
2018 I Can Only Imagine Arthur Millard
Kin Hal Solinski
The Pretenders Joe
2019 The Intruder Charlie Peck
A Dog's Journey Ethan Montgomery [59]
Midway Vice Admiral William "Bull" Halsey
2021 Born a Champion Mason
Blue Miracle Captain Wade Malloy
American Underdog Dick Vermeil
2022 The Tiger Rising Beauchamp
Strange World Jaeger Clade Voice role [60]
2023 On a Wing and a Prayer Doug White Completed [61]
Reagan President Ronald Reagan Post-production [62]


Year Title Role Notes Ref(s)
1977 Baretta Scott Martin Episode: "The Sky Is Falling"
1978 Are You in the House Alone? Phil Lawver Television film
1979 Amateur Night at the Dixie Bar and Grill Roy
1981 Bill Barry Morrow
1982 Johnny Belinda Kyle Hager
1983 Bill: On His Own Barry Morrow
1998 Everything that Rises Jim Clay Television film, also director [11]
2001 Dinner with Friends Gabe Television film
2009 SpongeBob SquarePants Grandpa Redbeard Voice role; Episode: "Grandpappy the Pirate"
2010 The Special Relationship Bill Clinton Television film
Chasing Zero: Winning the War on Healthcare Harm Self/narrator Documentary
2012–2013 Vegas Sheriff Ralph Lamb 21 episodes; also executive producer
2015 Inside Amy Schumer Chief / Judge 2 episodes
Drunk History Lucky Luciano Episode: "Las Vegas"
2015–2016 The Art of More Samuel Brukner 20 episodes
2017 Workaholics Ted Murphy Episode: "Weed the People"
Fortitude Michael Lennox 10 episodes
2019 Goliath Wade Blackwood Amazon original series, Season 3
Merry Happy Whatever Don Quinn Lead role

Home video[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1997 Sesame Street: Kids' Guide to Life video series Uncle Tommy Video: "Telling the Truth"

Viewpoint with Dennis Quaid[edit]

Viewpoint with Dennis Quaid is a series of short films focused on public-interest topics that is hosted by Dennis Quaid. Since 2012 it has been airing through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and other outlets.[63]


For his role in Far from Heaven (2002) he won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor, the Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor, the Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actor and the Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Male. He received nominations for Best Supporting Actor from the Golden Globe Awards, the Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards and the Screen Actors Guild Awards. Quaid was also honored with a Distinguished Alumni Award from his alma mater, the University of Houston, in April 2012.[citation needed]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Association Category Work Result Ref(s)
1987 Valladolid International Film Festival Best Lead Actor The Big Easy Won [citation needed]
1988 Independent Spirit Awards Best Male Lead The Big Easy Won
1989 Jupiter Awards Best International Actor The Big Easy Nominated
2001 Saturn Awards Best Supporting Actor Frequency Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Motion Picture (shared with cast) Traffic Nominated
2002 New York Film Critics Circle Best Supporting Actor Far from Heaven Won [64]
Toronto Film Critics Association Best Supporting Performance – Male Far from Heaven Nominated
2003 Chicago Film Critics Association Best Supporting Actor Far from Heaven Won
Gold Derby Awards Best Supporting Actor Far from Heaven Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture Far from Heaven Nominated
Independent Spirit Awards Best Supporting Male Far from Heaven Won
Online Film Critics Society Best Supporting Actor Far from Heaven Won
Satellite Awards Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama Far from Heaven Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role Far from Heaven Nominated
Vancouver Film Critics Circle Best Supporting Actor Far from Heaven Nominated
2010 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie The Special Relationship Nominated [65]
Satellite Awards Best Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Motion Picture Made for Television The Special Relationship Nominated
2011 Golden Globe Awards Best Lead Actor in a Motion Picture Made for Television The Special Relationship Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries The Special Relationship Nominated
2016 Houston Film Critics Society Lifetime Achievement N/A Won [66]


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Further reading[edit]

  • Silver, Murray (2005). When Elvis Meets the Dalai Lama. Savannah, Georgia: Bonaventure Books. Author describes Quaid's participation in the film Great Balls of Fire.

External links[edit]