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James Brolin

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James Brolin
Brolin in 1974
Craig Kenneth Bruderlin

(1940-07-18) July 18, 1940 (age 83)
Other names
  • James M. Brolin
  • Craig J. Brolin
EducationUniversity High School
Alma materSanta Monica City College
University of California, Los Angeles
Years active1960–present
  • Jane Cameron Agee
    (m. 1966; div. 1984)
  • (m. 1986; div. 1995)
  • (m. 1998)
Children3, including Josh
RelativesEden Brolin (granddaughter)
AwardsHollywood Walk of Fame

James Brolin (born Craig Kenneth Bruderlin, July 18, 1940)[1] is an American actor. Brolin has won two Golden Globes and an Emmy. He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on August 27, 1998. Brolin is the father of actor Josh Brolin and the husband of Barbra Streisand.

Brolin is best known for his TV roles such as Steven Kiley on Marcus Welby, M.D.(1969–1976), Peter McDermott on Hotel (1983–1988), John Short on Life in Pieces (2015–2019), and the Narrator on Sweet Tooth and his film roles such as Sgt. Jerome K. Weber in Skyjacked (1972), John Blane in Westworld (1973), General Ralph Landry in Traffic (2000),[2] Jack Barnes in Catch Me If You Can (2002), and Emperor Zurg in the 2022 Toy Story spin-off film Lightyear.

Early life[edit]

Brolin was born Craig Kenneth Bruderlin in Westwood Village, Los Angeles, California.[3][4] The eldest of two brothers and two sisters, he is the son of Helen Sue (née Mansur) (1916–2014), a housewife, and Henry Hurst Bruderlin (1911–2002), a building contractor.[5] As a young child, Brolin was interested in animals and in model airplanes, which he began building and flying when he was 10. As a teenaged filmgoer in the mid-1950s, Brolin was particularly fascinated with actor James Dean, and he began shooting 8 mm films.[3] When his parents invited a director over to his family's house for dinner before auditioning, Brolin met another fellow actor and classmate, Ryan O'Neal, who was about a year younger than Brolin. The two clicked and later enrolled in University High School located in West Los Angeles. However, Brolin's own acting exposed his stifling shyness. His assurance grew when O'Neal invited him to a casting agency. Brolin graduated from high school in 1958, and his family was already encouraging him to become an actor like O'Neal.[citation needed]


Early career[edit]

Brolin attended Santa Monica City College and studied drama at the University of California Los Angeles before signing a contract with 20th Century Fox in 1960. At Fox, he started out as a contract player in Sandra Dee movies.[6] Brolin appeared on an episode of Bus Stop in 1961. The part led to parts in other television productions such as Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea; Margie; Love, American Style; Twelve O'Clock High; and The Long, Hot Summer. He made three guest appearances on the popular 1960s series Batman, alongside Adam West and Burt Ward, as well as roles in The Virginian, and Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law alongside Arthur Hill and Lee Majors. He also had a recurring role on the short-lived television series The Monroes.

At age 20, Brolin changed his surname from "Bruderlin" to "Brolin" to become James Brolin ("Bruder" is the German word for "brother"). While in school struggling to make it big, he met actor Clint Eastwood. Brolin also had small roles in several films including Take Her, She's Mine (1963), Dear Brigitte (1965), Von Ryan's Express (1965), and Fantastic Voyage (1966). The following year, his first big role was in The Cape Town Affair (1967), but it did not receive any success at the box office. Brolin was ultimately fired by 20th Century Fox. In 1969, he co-starred in the TV series Marcus Welby, M.D., portraying a doctor.


In the 1970s, Brolin was 6 feet 4 inches (1.93 m) and began appearing in leading roles in films, including Skyjacked (1972)[7] and Westworld (1973). By the mid-1970s, he was a regular leading man in films, starring in Gable and Lombard (1976), The Car (1977), Capricorn One (1978, in which he costarred with Elliott Gould, Streisand's ex-husband), The Amityville Horror (1979), Night of the Juggler (1980), and High Risk (1981). When Roger Moore expressed his desire to vacate the role of James Bond, Brolin undertook screen tests to replace him in Octopussy (1983). It has been reported that not only were these successful, but Brolin was about to move to London to begin work on the film when the producers persuaded Moore to continue.[8]

In 1985, Brolin parodied his near-hiring as James Bond in the film Pee-wee's Big Adventure. In a film within the film, Brolin merged the characters of Bond and Pee-wee Herman, the "real" version of whom was played by Paul Reubens. He is referred to as "PW" and the role of Pee-wee's girlfriend "Dottie" is played by Morgan Fairchild.


Brolin as Steven Kiley
in Marcus Welby, M.D. (1969)

While contracted to Fox, Brolin had three small roles on the television series Batman, in the episodes "The Cat and the Fiddle", "The Catwoman Goeth", and "Ring Around the Riddler".

In 1968, Brolin transferred to Universal Studios, where he auditioned for a co-starring role opposite seasoned actor Robert Young in the popular medical drama Marcus Welby, M.D. (1969–1976). The series was one of the top-rated television shows of the day. Brolin became widely known for his portrayal of youthful, skilled assistant physician Dr. Steven Kiley. The chemistry between Young & Brolin clicked, and even came to attract young women for its medical interest throughout the show's run. In its first season in 1970, Brolin won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role and was subsequently nominated thrice more. He was also nominated for Golden Globes three times for Best Supporting Actor and won twice between 1971 and 1973. Brolin also starred in the television films Short Walk to Daylight (1972) and Trapped (1973). He and his first wife Jane also appeared on several episodes of the 1970s game show Tattletales.

In 1983, Brolin returned to television to star in another series and teamed with producer Aaron Spelling's prime-time soap opera, Hotel, for ABC.[9] On Hotel, Brolin played Peter McDermott, a hotel manager.[10]

For Hotel, Brolin was nominated twice for Golden Globes between 1983 and 1984 for Best Performance By an Actor in a TV Series but lost both times. He would also eventually serve as a director on the show. On one episode of Hotel, Brolin invited his future wife Jan Smithers to guest-star on the show as the writers suggested that they develop a storyline for them, as Brolin was going through a difficult divorce at the time. By 1988, after five seasons, Hotel was about to close its doors for good and the show was cancelled. That same year, his co-star, Nathan Cook had died of an allergic reaction to penicillin, and Brolin along with the rest of the cast attended Cook's funeral.

Actress Connie Sellecca said of Brolin's on-screen chemistry with her on Hotel, "I remember instantly feeling comfortable with Jim, and that's the thing that Jim has as to women, most women, they need to feel safe, and Jim gets that." Sellecca also said, "To have him in a different role and have that confidence, it was a wonderful experience." After the show's cancellation, Sellecca continues to be good friends with Brolin. In 1992, her mentor was in attendance at her wedding to John Tesh.

As the new decade approached, Brolin starred in both Angel Falls for CBS and Extreme for ABC, although neither matched the popularity of his earlier series.

In 1997, Brolin's luck changed with the syndicated television series Pensacola: Wings of Gold. He played the role of Lt. Col. Bill "Raven" Kelly, whose job was to teach young Marines in a special unit, before being promoted to work with a group of talented Marine fighter pilots. Brolin served as an executive producer and director on the series. However, the show was cancelled in 2000 after 66 episodes due to low ratings.

In 1997, Brolin also hosted Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction, a television series that shows five stories which have to do with the paranormal and supernatural. Jonathan Frakes took his place after the first season of the show. That same year, Brolin guest-starred on Roseanne. In Part 1 ("Lanford's Elite"), Roseanne & Jackie go to a luncheon at the Lanford Country Club, where they meet the son of their old boss Edgar Wellman Jr. (Brolin) of the Wellman Plastics factory. It appears that the factory is in need of financial help and Roseanne's money could save the factory. In Part 2 ("Some Enchanted Merger"), once the Wellman Plastics buyout is completed, Roseanne is at a loss for what to do when a mutual attraction springs between herself and Wellman.

Since 2000[edit]

Brolin has had a number of supporting roles in major cinema releases since 2000. These include (amongst others) the role of General Ralph Landry, outgoing director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy in Steven Soderbergh's Oscar-winning Traffic (2000); as Jack Barnes in Steven Spielberg's Catch Me If You Can (2002); a minor role in the 2003 comedy A Guy Thing; as philandering husband Robert Hatch in the 2006 comedy The Alibi (released in the UK as Lies and Alibis); as Jack Jennings in the 2007 film The American Standards; as TV network anchor Frank Harris in Richard Shepard's The Hunting Party (2007); and as Brian in Joel Hopkins' 2008 film Last Chance Harvey with Emma Thompson and Dustin Hoffman.

In 2002, Brolin played Governor Robert Ritchie of Florida, the Republican opponent of President Jed Bartlet, on the TV series The West Wing.

In late 2003, Brolin portrayed Ronald Reagan in the television film The Reagans. The film was originally meant to air on CBS, but after creative differences, scripts controversies, and rising costs, CBS passed on the film, and it aired on cable channel Showtime, also owned by Viacom. The role earned Brolin his fifth Emmy Award nomination, as well as his fifth Golden Globe nomination.

In 2005, Brolin guest starred on the TV series Monk as casino owner Daniel Thorn. In 2006, Brolin appeared in the A&E Network film Wedding Wars, playing an anti-gay marriage governor. In 2008, Brolin guest starred on Law & Order: SVU as astronaut Col. Dick Finley. The same year, Brolin also starred in the lead role in the Sci-Fi Channel film Lost City Raiders.

Brolin appeared in the 2009 comedy film The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard. He also appeared in a 2009 episode of Psych, titled "High Noon-ish", where Brolin played the sheriff of a tourist-attracting "Wild West" town. The episode was in part a parody of the 1973 film Westworld, in which he had starred.

Brolin has played Richard Castle's mysterious father in two episodes of ABC's Castle, in 2013 and 2014.[11] He appeared in the NBC sitcom Community as William Winger, Jeff Winger's estranged father.

From 2015 until 2019, Brolin played the role of John, the family patriarch, in the CBS comedy Life in Pieces.[12]

In his first role in an animated film, Brolin portrayed Emperor Zurg in the 2022 Toy Story spin-off film Lightyear.

Personal life[edit]

Brolin with Barbra Streisand (2013)

Brolin has been married thrice and has three children.

In 1966, Brolin married Jane Cameron Agee, a wildlife activist and aspiring actress at Twentieth Century Fox, 12 days after they first met.[13] The couple had two children, Josh (b. 1968), and Jess (b. 1972). They were divorced in 1984. Jane died in a car accident on February 13, 1995, a day after Josh's 27th birthday. Josh said on the October 14, 2008, episode of the Late Show with David Letterman that his parents met on the TV series Batman, where his mother was assistant casting director. James Brolin is the grandfather of Trevor (b. 1988) and Eden (b. 1994), from Josh's first marriage, as well as Westlyn (b. 2018) and Chapel (b. 2020) from Josh's third marriage.[citation needed]

In the late 1970s, Brolin started a brief but relatively successful career in sports car racing. After success in several celebrity auto races, he entered the 1979 24 Hours Nürburgring as part of the AMC Spirit team. Brolin's two-car team, which included accomplished racer Lyn St. James, finished both first and second in class.[14][15]

In 1985, Brolin met actress Jan Smithers on the set of Hotel, and they married in 1986. The couple had a daughter, Molly Elizabeth (b. 1987). Smithers filed for divorce from Brolin in 1995.[citation needed]

In 1996, Brolin met Barbra Streisand through a friend, and they got married on July 1, 1998. The couple resides in Malibu, California. Brolin is the stepfather of Streisand's only child, Jason Gould. In the first episode of the eighth season of Friends, character Phoebe Buffay claimed to be pregnant with Brolin's child, to create a diversion from Rachel Green's pregnancy.[citation needed]



Year Title Role Notes
1963 Take Her, She's Mine Mel Uncredited
1965 Dear Brigitte Student
Von Ryan's Express Private Ames
1966 Our Man Flint GALAXY technician Uncredited
Fantastic Voyage Technician
1967 The Cape Town Affair Skip McCoy
1968 The Boston Strangler Detective Sgt. Phil Lisi
1972 Skyjacked Sgt. Jerome K. Weber
1973 Westworld John Blane
1976 Gable and Lombard Clark Gable
1977 The Car Captain Wade Parent
Capricorn One Colonel Charles Brubaker
1979 The Amityville Horror George Lutz
1980 Night of the Juggler Sean Boyd
1981 High Risk Stone
1985 Pee-wee's Big Adventure P.W. Herman Cameo appearance
1987 Deep Dark Secrets Michael Wakefield
1989 Voice of the Heart Victor Mason
1990 Bad Jim B. D. Sweetman
1991 Ted & Venus Max Waters
1992 Gas Food Lodging John Evans
1993 Paper Hearts Henry
1994 The Visual Bible: Acts Simon Peter
1997 My Brother's War John Hall Also director
1998 A Marriage Of Convenience Manson
2000 Traffic General Ralph Landry Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
2002 Catch Me If You Can Jack Barnes
The Master of Disguise Fabbrizio Disguisey
2003 A Guy Thing Ken Cooper
2006 The Alibi Robert Hatch
2007 The American Standards Jack Jennings
The Hunting Party Franklin Harris
Bad Girl Island Terry Bamba
2008 Last Chance Harvey Brian
2009 The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard Ben Selleck
Bitter/Sweet Calvert Jenkins
2010 Burlesque Mr. Anderson
Standing Ovation Also producer
2011 Last Will Det. Sloan
A Fonder Heart Craig
Love, Wedding, Marriage Bradley
2014 Elsa & Fred Max Hayes
2015 Accidental Love Senator Bramen
The Steps Ed
The 33 Jeff Hart
Sisters Bucky Ellis
2019 Being Rose Max
2022 Lightyear Zurg / Old Buzz Lightyear Voice


Year Title Role Notes
1961 Follow the Sun Teenager Episode: "The Highest Wall"
Bus Stop Unknown Episode: "The Resurrection of Annie Ahearn"
1962 Margie Freddie Coates Episode: "Madame President"
1964–1965 Valentine's Day Harry / Charles "Charlie" Falwell Jr. Episodes: "The Seasick Sailor" and "Two Weeks with Pay"
1965 Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea Spencer Episode: "The Saboteur"
The Patty Duke Show Hank Episode: "Patty Meets the Great Outdoors"
Daniel Boone Member of the Lost Colony, Mark Episode: "The Lost Colony"
1966–1967 The Monroes Dalton Wales 4 episodes
Batman Various 3 episodes
1969 The Virginian Ned Trumbull Episode: "Crime Wave in Buffalo Springs"
1969–1976 Marcus Welby, M.D. Steven Kiley 172 episodes
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film (1971, 1973)
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (1970)
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film (1972)
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (1971–1973)
1972 Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law Zack Jamison Episode: "Shine a Light on Me"
1973 Trapped Chuck Brenner Television movie
1974 Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law Steven Kiley Episode: "I've Promised You a Father, Part 2"
1978 Steel Cowboy Clayton Ray Dennis Television movie
1982 The Ambush Murders Paul Marshall
Mae West Jim Timony
1983 White Water Rebels Mike McKay
Cowboy Ward McNally
1983–1988 Hotel Peter McDermott 115 episodes
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama (1984–1985)
1986 -1987 Hold The Dream Ross Nelson TV Mini Series
1989 Finish Line Martin Shrevelow Television movie
1990 Nightmare on the 13th Floor Alan Lanier
The Earth Day Special Doctor Television special
1991 And the Sea Will Tell Mac Graham Television movie
1992 City Boy[16] Tom McLean
1993 Gunsmoke: The Long Ride John Parsley
Visions of Murder Hal
1994 A Perry Mason Mystery: The Case of the Grimacing Governor Governor Ryan Allison
Parallel Lives Nick Dimas
1995 Extreme Reese Wheeler 7 episodes
1996 Hart to Hart: Harts in High Season Elliot Television movie
1997 Roseanne Edgar Wellman, Jr. 2 episodes
Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction Host 6 episodes
1997–2000 Pensacola: Wings of Gold Lt. Colonel Bill Kelly 66 episodes
1998 A Marriage of Convenience Mason Whitney Television movie
2002 The West Wing Governor Robert Ritchie 2 episodes
2003 The Reagans Ronald Reagan Television movie
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie
2005 Monk Daniel Thorn Episode: "Mr. Monk Goes to Vegas"
Widow on the Hill Hank Cavanaugh Television movie
2008 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Colonel Richard Finley Episode: "Lunacy"
Lost City Raiders John Kubiak Television movie
2009 Psych Sheriff Hank Mendel Episode: "High Noon-ish"
2010 Blackout Terrance Danfield 3 episodes
2013–2016 Castle Jackson Hunt 2 episodes
2013 Community William Winger Episode: "Cooperative Escapism in Familial Relations"
Christmas with Tucker Bo McCray Television movie
2014 When Calls the Heart Circuit Judge Jedidiah Black Episode: "Prelude to a Kiss"
2015–2019 Life in Pieces John Short Current series
2016 I'll Be Home For Christmas Jack Foster Television movie (also executive producer & director)
2017 Royal Hearts Hank Pavlik Television movie (also director)
2021–2024 Sweet Tooth Narrator (Older Gus) Voice; Netflix TV Series


  1. ^ Leszczak, Bob (2015). From Small Screen to Vinyl: A Guide to Television Stars Who Made Records, 1950-2000. New York: Rowman & Littlefield. p. 32. ISBN 978-1-4422-4273-9. "James Brolin was born as Craig Kenneth Bruderlin on July 18, 1940, in Los Angeles, California."
  2. ^ "James Brolin". walkoffame.com. October 25, 2019. Retrieved January 2, 2020.
  3. ^ a b "Life In Pieces Cast: James Brolin". CBS. Retrieved April 17, 2017.
  4. ^ Leszczak, Bob (2015). From Small Screen to Vinyl: A Guide to Television Stars Who Made Records, 1950-2000. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 32. ISBN 9781442242746. Retrieved April 17, 2017.
  5. ^ California Birth Index, 1905-1995. Center for Health Statistics, California Department of Health Services, Sacramento, California. At Ancestry.com
  6. ^ "At the Movies". The New York Times. July 21, 1978. Retrieved April 17, 2017.
  7. ^ Soares, Emily. "Skyjacked (1972)". TCM.com. Turner Classic Movies (TCM). Retrieved August 16, 2018.
  8. ^ Jacks, Kelso (April 7, 2020). "Roger Moore Was Almost Replaced As James Bond: Watch James Brolin's Audition". ScreenRant. Retrieved April 9, 2020.
  9. ^ Bedell, Sally (May 5, 1983). "BETTE DAVIS JOINS ABC'S FALL LINEUP". The New York Times. p. C00032.
  10. ^ O'Connor, John J. (September 21, 1983). "TV: ABC OPENS NEW 'HOTEL' SERIES". The New York Times. p. C00026.
  11. ^ Ausiello, Michael (January 22, 2013). "Castle Scoop: Look Who's Playing Rick's Dad!". TVLine. Retrieved August 17, 2016.
  12. ^ "Life in Pieces". CBS.com. Retrieved August 17, 2016.
  13. ^ Stephen Rebello (October 2010). "Playboy Interview: Josh Brolin". Playboy.
  14. ^ Mattar, George (February 2005). "AMC Invades Germany – circa 1979". Hemmings Muscle Machines. Retrieved April 20, 2013.
  15. ^ "When the Americans Conquered the Nurburgring with an AMC Spirit". R&T Magazine. June 19, 2016. Retrieved January 30, 2019.
  16. ^ "City Boy (TV Movie 1992) - IMDb". IMDb.

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