Paul Dooley

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Paul Dooley
Dooley in 2010
Paul Brown

(1928-02-22) February 22, 1928 (age 95)
Alma materWest Virginia University
  • Actor
  • writer
  • comedian
Years active1954–present
  • Donna Lee Wasser (m. 1958–?; divorced)
  • (m. 1984)
Children4, including Savannah Dooley

Paul Dooley (born Paul Brown; February 22, 1928) is an American character actor, writer and comedian. He is known for his roles in Breaking Away, Popeye, Sixteen Candles, Strange Brew and many Christopher Guest mockumentaries. He co-created the PBS show The Electric Company.

Early life[edit]

Dooley was born Paul Brown on February 22, 1928, in Parkersburg, West Virginia, the son of Ruth Irene (née Barringer), a homemaker, and Pete James Brown, a factory worker.[1]

He has said that Parkersburg had few attractions that interested him, as there were not many cultural opportunities. He enjoyed listening to comedians on the radio, especially Jimmy Durante.[2]

Dooley was a cartoonist as a youth and drew a strip for a local paper in Parkersburg. In 1946, he joined the United States Navy and served for 2 years before returning home and graduating from West Virginia University in 1952.[3]


After graduating from West Virginia University, Dooley went to New York City to try his luck in the entertainment industry. He initially found work as a clown for children's birthday parties.[4]

In New York he soon found success as a regular on the stage. In the early 1950s, he made his debut on the New York stage and was discovered by Mike Nichols. The director gave him his first break by casting him in 1965's The Odd Couple on Broadway. Dooley appeared as Oscar's poker crony, Homer "Speed" Deegan and understudied Art Carney, who portrayed Felix Unger; when Carney left the play later on, Dooley assumed the role of Felix. Dooley was represented by the William Morris Agency, thanks to a referral from Walter Matthau, who played Oscar Madison in the play.[3]

Also having an interest in comedy, Dooley was a stand-up comedian for five years, eventually landing on The Tonight Show,[4] and a member of the Compass Players and The Second City troupe in New York City. Fellow members of The Second City at that time were Alan Arkin and Alan Alda.[5]

Dooley also worked as a writer. He created and was one of the head writers on The Electric Company, produced by the Children's Television Workshop for PBS in the United States. Dooley wrote "runners", a series of short sketches with 8 or 10 characters that were broadcast over the course of several weeks. He found out years later that Carl Reiner had recommended him for the job.[2] Some of the characters Dooley created for The Electric Company included Easy Reader (Morgan Freeman) and Fargo North, Decoder (Skip Hinnant), as well as the soap opera spoof Love of Chair.[2]

Dooley formed a company with Andrew Duncan and Lynne Lipton called All Over Creation to create commercials for radio and television. They produced around 500 TV commercials and 1,000 radio spots.[4] A character named Paul the Gorilla that appeared in television commercials was named after him.


Dooley has appeared in such films as Sixteen Candles, Popeye, Raggedy Ann and Andy: A Musical Adventure, Breaking Away, and the voice of Sarge in the Disney/Pixar films Cars, Cars 2 and Cars 3.

He worked with Robert Altman regularly and is known as a prolific journeyman character actor.[3] After Altman saw Dooley in the Jules Feiffer comedy Hold Me, he signed him for a role in his film A Wedding.[4]

He and Altman co-wrote the film Health.[2]

He was also in the director's cut of Little Shop of Horrors, but was replaced by Jim Belushi in the final cut.

Dooley has worked with Christopher Guest on a number of films.[4]


Dooley has also appeared as a variety of recurrent characters on numerous television shows, including My So-Called Life, Dream On, Grace Under Fire, thirtysomething, Curb Your Enthusiasm, ALF (playing Whizzer Deaver), Chicago Hope, and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine where he played the recurring role of Enabran Tain. He guest starred in other primetime shows like Bewitched, The Wonder Years, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, Hot in Cleveland, and Desperate Housewives. With Rita Moreno, he appeared in The Golden Girls episode "Empty Nests" which had been intended to be a backdoor pilot for what would eventually become Empty Nest.[6] Dooley starred in the short-lived comedy about a couple living in an Arizona retirement community, Coming of Age, opposite veteran actors Phyllis Newman, Glynis Johns and Alan Young. In 2000, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for his role as an eccentric judge on The Practice.

In 2010, Dooley played the part of the head chef at Camp Victory, a fictional fat camp, on the short-lived ABC Family original series Huge, which was created and written by his wife and daughter.[7]

In 2014 he appeared in an episode of the NBC series Parenthood as Rocky, a fellow vet and retiree to Craig T. Nelson's Zeek Braverman.[8]

In 2017 he appeared in the episode "22 Steps" of the ABC series The Good Doctor as Glenn, a 72-year-old man with a failing heart who breaks his pacemaker because he wants to die due to the constant pain he is suffering.


Dooley co-wrote the play, Assisted Living, with his wife Winnie Holzman.[5] It was their first theatrical collaboration. The play premiered on April 5, 2013.[9]

Personal life[edit]

Dooley has been married to Winnie Holzman,[10] whom he first met at an improv acting class in New York,[11] since November 18, 1984.[5] The couple have a daughter Savannah[2] and live in Toluca Lake in Los Angeles.[11]

He was previously married to Donna Lee Wasser on September 19, 1958, which ended in divorce.[10] He has three children from his first marriage.[12][10]

In 2022, he published his memoir, titled Movie Dad: Finding Myself and My Family, On Screen and Off.[10][13]



Year Title Role Notes
1964 The Parisienne and the Prudes Ted K. Worrie
1970 The Out-of-Towners Hotel Clerk - Day
1972 Up the Sandbox Statue of Liberty Guard
1974 The Gravy Train Doctor
1974 Death Wish Cop at Hospital Uncredited
1975 Fore Play Salesman
1977 Slap Shot Hyannisport Announcer
1977 Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure Gazooks Voice
1978 A Wedding Snooks Brenner
1979 A Perfect Couple Alex Theodopoulos
1979 Breaking Away Ray Stohler
1979 Rich Kids Simon Peterfreund
1980 Health Dr. Gil Gainey
1980 Popeye J. Wellington Wimpy
1981 Paternity Kurt
1982 Endangered Species Joe Hiatt
1982 Kiss Me Goodbye Kendall
1983 Strange Brew Uncle Claude Elsinore
1983 Going Berserk Dr. Ted
1984 Sixteen Candles Jim Baker
1985 O.C. and Stiggs Randall Schwab
1986 Little Shop of Horrors Patrick Martin Director's cut only
1986 Monster in the Closet Roy
1986 Big Trouble Noozel
1988 Last Rites Father Freddie
1988 Lip Service Gilbert 'Gil' Hutchinson
1990 Flashback Stark
1991 White Hot: The Mysterious Murder of Thelma Todd Hal Roach
1991 Shakes the Clown Owen Cheese
1992 The Player Himself
1993 My Boyfriend's Back Big Chuck
1993 A Dangerous Woman Tupperware Salesman
1995 Evolver Jerry Briggs
1995 Out There Emmett Davis
1995 The Underneath Ed Dutton
1996 God's Lonely Man Polo
1996 Waiting for Guffman UFO Abductee
1997 Loved Leo Amerson
1997 Clockwatchers Bud Chapman
1997 Telling Lies in America Father Norton
1997 Angels in the Endzone Coach Buck
1999 Happy, Texas The Judge
1999 Guinevere Walter
1999 Error in Judgment Jack Albert
1999 Runaway Bride Walter Carpenter
2000 I'll Remember April Earl Schimmel
2001 Recess Christmas: Miracle on Third Street Hank the Janitor, Mall Santa Voice
2001 Stealing Time Hank
2002 Crazy Little Thing Jimmy's Dad
2002 Insomnia Chief Nyback
2003 A Mighty Wind George Menschell
2003 Nobody Knows Anything! Warden
2004 Employee of the Month Reverend Ben Goodwin
2004 Adventures in Homeschooling (Short) Pop Hemple
2005 Come Away Home Grandpa Donald Brooks
2005 Madison Mayor Don Vaughn
2006 Cars Sarge Voice
2006 For Your Consideration Paper Badge Sergeant
2007 Hairspray Mr. Spritzer Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
2008 Sunshine Cleaning Sherm
2008 Chronic Town Eleanor's Father
2008 Bedtime Stories Hot Dog Vendor
2009 Horsemen Father Whiteleather
2010 Ironmen Connors
2011 Thanks Hank
2011 Cars 2 Sarge Voice
2012 Game Night Marvin Garden
2013 Turbo The Foreman Voice
2016 Other People Ronnie
2016 The Holy Man Lou 'The Bull' Devine
2017 Cars 3 Sarge Voice
2020 Selfie Dad Barber


Year Title Role Notes
1963 East Side/West Side Charlie Welty Episode: "No Hiding Place"
1964 The Defenders R.W. Wheeler Episode: "Conflict of Interests"
1966 Get Smart Hanlon Episode: "The Greatest Spy on Earth"
1966 Bewitched TV Man Episode: "Oedipus Hex"
1968 A Punt, a Pass, and a Prayer Photographer Television film
1970 The Night the Animals Talked Voice, Television special
1972 The Corner Bar Unknown character Episode: "Flanagan's Wake"
1974–1975 Sesame Street Parrot Voice, 2 episodes
1977 Simple Gifts Voice, Television special
1980 Captain Kangaroo
1981 Jules Feiffer's Hold Me Man #1 Television film
1981 See China and Die Ames Prescott Television film
1982 American Playhouse Detective Episode: "The Shady Hill Kidnapping"
1982–1983 Faerie Tale Theatre Father / The Miller 2 episodes
1983 The Wilder Summer Camp Cook Television film
1983 Don't Eat the Pictures Museum Security Guard Television special
1985 CBS Schoolbreak Special Dr. Wormer Episode: "The Day the Senior Class Got Married"
1985 Spenser: For Hire Bryce Taylor Episode: "Resurrection"
1986 Tales from the Darkside Chester Caruso Episode: "The Old Soft Shoe"
1986–1987 The Golden Girls George Corliss / Isaac Q. Newton 2 episodes
1987–1989 ALF Whizzer 3 episodes
1988 The Murder of Mary Phagan William J. Burns Miniseries
1988 Superman 50th Anniversary John Buxton, Editor Metropolis Proclaimer Television special
1988–1989 Coming of Age Dick Hale 15 episodes
1989 Guts and Glory: The Rise and Fall of Oliver North John Buxton, Editor Metropolis Proclaimer Television film
1989 When He's Not a Stranger Ben McKenna Television film
1990 Thirtysomething Bob Spano 2 episodes
1990 The Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson Willy Bailey Television film
1990 Guess Who’s Coming For Christmas Doc Television film
1991 Mathnet Casey Bengal Episode: "The Case of the Unnatural"
1991 Evening Shade Rayford Taggart Episode: "The Trials of Wood Newton"
1991 Coach Horace Van Dam Episode: "A Father and Son Reunion"
1991 My Life and Times Jack Miller Episode: "Our Wedding"
1991 Sunday Dinner Jack Episode: "My Dinner with Jack and Delores"
1991 Square One Television Casey Bengal 2 episodes
1991 The Wonder Years Pops Episode: "Soccer"
1991 Pros and Cons Archie Williams Episode: "Ho! Ho! Hold Up!"
1992 Batman: The Animated Series Father Michael Voice, Episode: "It's Never Too Late"
1992 Perry Mason: The Case of the Heartbroken Bride Assistant D.A. Robert Norrell Television film
1992 Mad About You Gus Stemple Episode: "Paul in the Family"
1992 The Ben Stiller Show Mr. Adult / The Professor 2 episodes
1992 Room for Two Wally Episode: "Dog Day Afternoons"
1992–1994 Dream On Mickey Tupper 8 episodes
1993 Cooperstown Sid Wiggins Television film
1993 Mother of the Bride Robert Becker Television film
1993 Tales of the City Herb Tolliver 3 episodes
1993 Tales from the Crypt Randolph Episode: "Forever Ambergris"
1993 Traveler's Rest Andy Milligan Television film
1993 L.A. Law Karl Bullen Episode: "Safe Sex"
1994 The Mommies Frank Kellogg Episode: "The Old Man Cometh"
1994 State of Emergency Jim Anderson Television film
1994 Chicago Hope Walter McTeague Episode: "Over the Rainbow"
1994 Sisters Erin 'The Bargain' Baron Episode: "Bombshell"
1994 My So-Called Life Chuck Wood 2 episodes
1994–1996 Grace Under Fire John Shirley 22 episodes
1994–1997 Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Enabran Tain 4 episodes
1995 The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes Sen. Thatch Television film
1995–1996, 2004 ER Henry Lewis 4 episodes
1996 High Society Mel Episode: "Touching Up Your Roots"
1996 Ellen Thomas Kelsey Episode: "Lobster Diary"
1996 Millennium Joe Bangs Episode: "The Well-Worn Lock"
1997 Early Edition McGinty Episode: "Home"
1997 Sabrina the Teenage Witch Ralphie Episode: "A Doll's Story"
1998 Sleepwalkers Joel Episode: "Passed Imperfect"
1998–1999 Tracey Takes On... Cop / Agent Ivan Hamel 2 episodes
1999 Dharma & Greg Judge Harper Episode: "Dharma & Greg on a Hot Tin Roof"
1999–2002 The Practice Judge Philip Swackheim 8 episodes
2000–2002, 2004–2005 Curb Your Enthusiasm Cheryl's Father 7 episodes
2001 Ally McBeal Nicholas Engblume Episode: "Reasons to Believe"
2001 Providence Bill Ridley Episode: "Saved by the Bell"
2001 The Geena Davis Show Bill Episode: "Photo Finish"
2001 A Woman's a Helluva Thing Hank Luckinbill Television film
2001 Kate Brasher Father Episode: "Jeff"
2001 Jack & Jill Father Conlin Episode: "The Time/Sex Continuum"
2001 The Huntress Dante Cicollo Episode: "Undercover"
2001–2002 Once and Again Les Cresswell 6 episodes
2003 Law & Order: Criminal Intent Stan Coffman Episode: "Cherry Red"
2003 Tracey Ullman in the Trailer Tales Dean Duaney Television special
2003 Becker Mr. Lerner Episode: "What's Love Got to Do with It?"
2003 Comfort and Joy George Television film
2004 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Buddy Ween Episode: "Getting Off"
2005 Hopeless Pictures Bartender Voice
2005 Desperate Housewives Addison Prudy 3 episodes
2006 The Jake Effect Mr. Bernthal Episode: "The Intervention"
2007 7th Heaven Red Episode: "Small Miracles"
2007 Side Order of Life Sam Wainwright Episode: "When Pigs Fly"
2007 Boston Legal Judge Wendel Donahue Episode: "Hope and Gory"
2008 Grey's Anatomy Dr. Walter Tapley Episode: "Losing My Mind"
2009 Scrubs Paul Episode: "Our Histories"
2010 Huge Joe Sosniak 10 episodes
2011 Private Practice Abe Nussbaum Episode: "Heaven Can Wait"
2012 Hot in Cleveland Bearded Man aka Santa Episode: "Claus, Tails & High-Pitched Males: Birthdates 3"
2012 The Client List Earl Hudson Episode: "Past Is Prologue"
2013 Criminal Minds Chip Gordon Episode: "All That Remains"
2013 Major Crimes Larry Murdock Episode: "There's No Place Like Home"
2013 Super Fun Night The Old Man Episode: "Merry Super Fun Christmas"
2013 My Santa Martin Television film
2014 Parenthood Rocky Episode: "Promises"
2015 Comedy Bang! Bang! Rocky Episode: "Dax Shepard Wears a Heather Grey Shirt and Black Blazer"
2016 The Skinny! Grandpa Episode: "Relapse"
2016 Childrens Hospital Grandpa Ben Episode: "Grandparents Day"
2016 Young & Hungry Mr. Fancy 2 episodes
2017 Workaholics Ralph Episode: "Faux Chella"
2017 The Good Doctor Glen Episode: "22 Steps"
2018 Shameless Frank 2 episodes
2018 The Guest Book Uncle Bill Episode: "Killer Party"
2018 Bizaardvark Uncle Morty Episode: "A Capella Problems"
2018–2019 The Kids Are Alright Father Cecil Dunne 6 episodes
2019 Life in Pieces Mort Short 2 episodes
2019 Merry Happy Whatever Grandpa Jack Episode: "Merry Ex-Mas"
2020 Modern Family Murray Episode: "Dead on a Rival"

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role
2006 Cars Sarge
2007 Cars Mater-National Championship
2009 Cars Race-O-Rama
2011 Cars 2: The Video Game


Year Title Role Notes
1954 The Threepenny Opera Walt Dreary [14]
1965 The Odd Couple Felix Ungar [14]

Theme park attractions[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2012 Radiator Springs Racers Sarge Voice


  1. ^ Van Gelder, Lawrence (23 July 1979). "Paul Dooley, a Household Theatrical Face, Gets Used to Being a Name, Too". The New York Times. Retrieved June 1, 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d e Pollak, Kevin (January 17, 2011). "Episode 96 – Paul Dooley and Winnie Holzman!". Kevin Pollak's Chat Show. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
  3. ^ a b c "Paul Dooley". Biography. Archived from the original on 4 January 2014. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Paul Dooley". Film Bug. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
  5. ^ a b c Friedlander, Whitney (March 29, 2013). "Wicked Writer Winnie Holzman and Her Husband Paul Dooley Wrote and Star in a Play Together. It Only Took Them 28 Years". LA Weekly. Retrieved October 29, 2021.
  6. ^ "Recap / The Golden Girls S 02 E 026 Empty Nests". TVTropes. Retrieved 2023-06-15.
  7. ^ Hale, Mike (June 18, 2010). "A Close-Knit Team on a Plus-Size Show". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
  8. ^ Sepinwall, Alan (January 2, 2014). "Review: 'Parenthood' - 'Promises'". Uproxx. Retrieved October 29, 2021.
  9. ^ Gans, Andrew (February 21, 2013). "EXCLUSIVE: Assisted Living, New Play By Wicked's Winnie Holzman and Husband Paul Dooley, Will Debut in April". Playbill. Archived from the original on 3 June 2013. Retrieved October 29, 2021.
  10. ^ a b c d Larsen, Peter (2 February 2023). "Paul Dooley became 'Movie Dad' even as his own children disappeared for a decade". Los Angeles Daily News. Retrieved 2 February 2023.
  11. ^ a b Nichols, David (April 10, 2013). "Review: 'Assisted Living' at the Odyssey Theatre". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 29, 2021.
  12. ^ "Dooley, Paul 1928–". Retrieved June 1, 2022.
  13. ^ Dooley, Paul (2022). Movie Dad: Finding Myself and My Family, On Screen and Off. Applause Books, New York City. ISBN 978-1493063079.
  14. ^ a b "Paul Dooley Theatre Credits, News, Bio and Photos".

External links[edit]