Jerry Zucker

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Jerry Zucker
Zucker on November 4, 2006
Jerry Gordon Zucker

(1950-03-11) March 11, 1950 (age 74)
Occupation(s)Film director, producer, screenwriter
Years active1976–present
Janet Krausz
(m. 1987)
FamilyDavid Zucker (brother)

Jerry Gordon 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] His paternal grandfather was Leonard Zucker who emigrated from Russia to the United States and became a naturalized citizen.

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 1987, both Jerry and David Zucker through Zucker Brothers Productions had inked an agreement with Paramount Pictures for a two-year non-exclusive production agreement and development deal with the studio. The brothers had anticipated cranking out four comedies for Paramount Pictures during the life of the pact; the first film was a feature film version of the early 1980s television show Police Squad!, which was originally cancelled after six episodes on the air.[6] In 1990, he lent his directorial skills to the dramatic genre with Ghost, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture. Zucker's most recent directorial effort is 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.[7]

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 Writer Producer Notes
1977 The Kentucky Fried Movie No Yes No
1980 Airplane! Yes Yes Executive Co-directed with Jim Abrahams & David Zucker
1984 Top Secret! Yes Yes Executive
1986 Ruthless People Yes No No
1988 The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! No Yes Executive
1990 Ghost Yes No No
1995 First Knight Yes No Yes
2001 Rat Race Yes No Yes

As producer

As executive producer

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


TV series[edit]

Year Title Director Producer Writer Notes
1976 Big John, Little John No No Yes writer of episode "Abracadabra" with Jim Abrahams & David Zucker
1982 Police Squad! Yes Executive Yes director and writer of episode "A Substantial Gift (The Broken Promise)" with Jim Abrahams & David Zucker
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 Theater in one episode
1974 The Midnight Special


  1. ^ "Jerry Zucker-Biography". Yahoo! Movies.
  2. ^ Desser, David; Friedman, Lester D. (2004). American Jewish Filmmakers. University of Illinois Press. p. 166. ISBN 9780252071539.
  3. ^ David Zucker Biography (1947-)
  4. ^ "Charlotte Zucker Obituary (2007) - Mequon, WI - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel".
  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. ^ "Zucker Bros. Sign A 2-Year Par Pact". Variety. 1987-10-07. pp. 4, 119.
  7. ^ Kaltenbach, Chris (August 22, 2001). "Jerry Zucker Still Flies High on 'Airplane!'". Los Angeles Times.

External links[edit]