Jerry Zucker

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Jerry Zucker
Jerry Zucker (cropped).jpg
Zucker on November 4, 2006
Born (1950-03-11) March 11, 1950 (age 70)
OccupationFilm director, film producer, screenwriter
Years active1972–present
Janet Krausz
(m. 1987)
FamilyDavid Zucker (brother)

Jerry G. Zucker (born March 11, 1950) is an American film producer, director, and writer known for his role in directing comedy spoof films such as Airplane! and Top Secret!, and the Best Picture-nominated supernatural drama film Ghost.[1] He and his older brother, David Zucker, collaborated on several films.

Life and career[edit]

Zucker was born to a Jewish family[2] in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the son of Charlotte A. (Lefstein) (d. 2007) and Burton C. Zucker, who was a real estate developer.[3][4] He graduated from Shorewood High School.[5]

Zucker's early career work started with Jim Abrahams and brother David Zucker. The trio performed in Madison, Wisconsin as a sketch and comedy troupe called "Kentucky Fried Theater". From there the three went on and together co-directed Airplane! in 1980 and then went on to do Top Secret! in 1984, and Ruthless People in 1986. In 1990, he lent his directorial skills to the dramatic genre with Ghost, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture. Recent directorial efforts of Zucker's include the 2001 film Rat Race.

Zucker's films have been ranked among the greatest comedies of all time: Airplane! was ranked at the top of Entertainment Weekly's list of best comedy films and AFI listed it as #10; Top Secret! made Entertainment Weekly's Top 100 list.[6]

Like his brother David Zucker, Jerry often cast his mother, Charlotte (who died in 2007), and his sister, Susan Breslau, in small roles in his films. Along with Jim Abrahams, the Zuckers constitute the "ZAZ" team of directors.



Year Title Director Producer Writer
1977 The Kentucky Fried Movie No No Yes
1980 Airplane! Yes Executive Yes
1984 Top Secret! Yes Executive Yes
1986 Ruthless People Yes No No
1988 The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! No Executive Yes
1990 Ghost Yes No No
1995 First Knight Yes Yes No
2001 Rat Race Yes Yes No

Also second unit director in Rock 'n' Roll High School (1979).

Acting roles[edit]

Year Title Role(s) Notes
1977 The Kentucky Fried Movie Technician #3 / Man / Beaver / Hands
1980 Airplane! Ground Crewman #1
1984 Top Secret! German Soldier
1995 Your Studio and You Himself Short film
2014 Asthma Gus' Father


Year Title Director Producer Writer Notes
1982 Police Squad! Yes Executive Yes Creator;
Episode "A Substantial Gift (The Broken Promise)"
1987 Our Planet Tonight No Executive No TV Movie
2013 Dear Dumb Diary No Executive No
2019 Late Night Berlin No Creative No 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


  1. ^ "Jerry Zucker-Biography". Yahoo! Movies.
  2. ^ Desser, David; Friedman, Lester D. American Jewish Filmmakers. p. 166. ISBN 9780252071539.
  3. ^ David Zucker Biography (1947-)
  4. ^
  5. ^ "25 years and still laughing: 'Airplane!' maintains its cruising altitude with a non-stop zany attitude" Archived 2008-04-30 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."
  6. ^ Kaltenbach, Chris (August 22, 2001). "Jerry Zucker Still Flies High on 'Airplane!'". Los Angeles Times.

External links[edit]