Paul Gleason

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For people with a similar name, see Paul Gleeson.
Paul Gleason
Paul Gleason Breakfast Club.jpg
Gleason as Assistant Principal Richard Vernon in The Breakfast Club (1985)
Born Paul Xavier Gleason
(1939-05-04)May 4, 1939
Jersey City, New Jersey, U.S.[1]
Died May 27, 2006(2006-05-27) (aged 67)
Burbank, California, U.S.
Cause of death Lung cancer (Mesothelioma)[2]
Nationality American[1]
Occupation Actor
Years active 1965–2006
Spouse(s) Candy Moore
(m. 1971–1978; divorced)
Susan Kehl
(m. 1995–2006; his death)

Paul Xavier Gleason (May 4, 1939 – May 27, 2006) was an American film and television actor, known for his roles on television series such as All My Children and films such as The Breakfast Club, Trading Places, and Die Hard.

Early life[edit]

Gleason was born on May 4, 1939 in Jersey City, New Jersey, the son of Eleanor (née Doyle), a registered nurse, and George L. Gleason, a restaurateur, professional boxer, iron worker, and roofing manufacturer.[1] Gleason was raised in Miami Beach, Florida. At age 16, he ran away from home and hitchhiked across the east coast, sleeping on beaches and playing baseball.[2] He attended North Miami Beach High School and Florida State University where he played football. He signed a professional baseball contract with the Cleveland Indians, but played just briefly in two minor league seasons between 1959 and 1960.[3]

During that last season, a west coast trip led to an introduction to sitcom icon Ozzie Nelson, which, in turn, led to an appearance on Ozzie and Harriet (as per Nelson's habit of hiring athletes for guest spots on the show). Suddenly, acting was an option, and an increasingly attractive one, given Gleason's stillborn baseball career. He moved to New York City, eventually joining The Actors Studio,[4][5] where he would study for four years before moving to Los Angeles.[6]


Gleason starred in many movies, and became well-known initially as Dr. David Thornton on All My Children, playing the role from 1976 to 1978. He guest-starred in "The Trouble with Harry" and "Fire", two episodes of The A-Team. Gleason was known to Star Wars fans for his role as Jeremitt Towani in the 1985 made-for-TV film Ewoks: The Battle for Endor. He played the villainous Clarence Beeks, the Duke brothers' inside trader, in the 1983 comedy Trading Places starring Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy. He also played Deputy Police Chief Dwayne T. Robinson, the blowhard police official, in Die Hard.

He is perhaps best remembered for his role as Richard Vernon, the gruff disciplinarian in the seminal 1985 film The Breakfast Club. He played similar characters in the 1988 film Johnny Be Good (as a high school football coach) and on several episodes of the TV sitcom Boy Meets World (as a university dean). He directly parodied his Breakfast Club role in the 2000 A-Teens music video for "Dancing Queen" and in the 2001 comedy film Not Another Teen Movie.

In 2002, he appeared in episodes of Dawson's Creek as Larry Newman, the sex-and-violence obsessed chief of a B movie studio. He appeared as a nonsensical judge in an episode of Drake & Josh. He also appeared in an episode of George Lopez as the brother of George's boss, a crazy old drunk. In 2005, he appeared as the Sheriff in the horror film Abominable. His final appearance before his death was in an independent film called The Book of Caleb.

Personal life[edit]

Gleason, in addition to his acting career, participated in many celebrity golf events each year, and was known to mingle with fans and sign autographs during these golf tournaments.

From 1971 to 1978, he was married to actress Candy Moore; they had one daughter, Shannon. From 1995 until his death, he was married to Susan Kehl.


Gleason died on May 27, 2006 at a Burbank, California hospital from pleural mesothelioma, a form of lung cancer connected with asbestos, which he is thought to have contracted from asbestos exposure on building sites while working for his father as a teenager. Gleason was 67 years old.[2] He was buried near the southeast corner of the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Westwood, Los Angeles. He is survived by his wife, two daughters, and one granddaughter, Sofia.[citation needed]

Film and television credits[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1962 Panic in Year Zero! Gas Station Owner Acting and Film Debut; Uncredited
1965 Winter A-Go-Go Ski Resort Guest

It's About Time

Man Television Debut; One Episode
The Green Hornet Paul Garrett Television; One Episode
C'mon, Let's Live a Little Frat Boy Uncredited
The Invaders Alien Television; One Episode
1968 The F.B.I. Officer Dan Ryan Television; One Episode
"The Secret War of Harry Frigg" Prisoner (uncredited)
1969 Then Came Bronson Deputy Television; One Episode
1971 Private Duty Nurses Dr. McClintock
Adam-12 Smitty Television; One Episode
1972 Where Does It Hurt? Role Unspecified
Mission: Impossible Blair Television; One Episode
Banacek Border Guard Television; One Episode
Adam-12 Patrolman Arnold Television; One Episode
Hit Man Cop Uncredited
Adam-12 Instructor Chuck Williams Television One Episode
1973 Little Laura and Big John Sheriff
1974 Adam-12 John Suntor Television; One Episode; As Paul Xavier Gleason
1975 Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze Maj. Thomas J. "Long Tom" Roberts
Columbo Parsons Television; One Episode
1976 Vigilante Force Michael J. Loonius As Paul X Gleason
1976-78 All My Children Dr. David Thornton Television
1979 Women at West Point Major James T. Kirk TV Movie
Ike Capt. Ernest "Tex" Lee Television Miniseries
The Great Santini Lt. Sammy
1980 Ike: The War Years Capt. Ernest "Tex" Lee TV Movie
He Knows You're Alone Det. Frank Daley
1981 Fort Apache the Bronx Detective
Arthur Executive
The Pursuit of D.B. Cooper Remson
Another Life Lee Carothers #1 Television
1982 MysteryDisc: Murder, Anyone? Stewart Cavanaugh Direct-to-Video Film
1983 MysteryDisc: Many Roads to Murder Direct-to-Video Film
Tender Mercies Reporter
Trading Places Clarence Beeks
1984 The A-Team Roy Kelsey
Scarecrow and Mrs. King Edson Ballon Television; One Episode
Remington Steele Sheriff Jeff 'Jed' Nebbins Television; One Episode
Cagney & Lacey Detective Crespi Television; One Episode
Call to Glory Marty Colby Television; One Episode
Hardcastle and McCormick Jack Fish Television; One Episode
Riptide Detective Commander Phillip Hallins Everitt Television; Two Episodes
Hill Street Blues Biff Lowe Television; Two Episodes
Magnum, P.I. Ronnie Meeder AKA Jacques Arnot Television; One Episode
1985 The Breakfast Club Asst. Principal Richard Vernon
Challenge of a Lifetime John Schoonover TV Movie
Dallas Lt. Lee Spaulding Television; Three Episodes
Anything for Love Larry Worth TV Movie
Ewoks: The Battle for Endor Jeremitt TV Movie
1986 Superior Court Attorney Television
Kate & Allie Tom Fitzgerald Television; One Episode
The A-Team Harry Sullivan Television; One Episode
Miami Vice Bunny Berrigan Television; One Episode
Gimme a Break! Mr. Kimball Television; One Episode
The Equalizer Greenleaf Television; One Episode
1987 Hollywood-Monster Stan Gordon
Beauty and the Beast Henry Dutton Television; One Episode
Forever, Lulu Robert
Falcon Crest Andy Stryker Television; One Episode
Sidekicks Fargo Television; One Episode
Morgan Stewart's Coming Home Jay Le Soto
1988 Die Hard Deputy Police Chief Dwayne T. Robinson
Doubletake Howie Henley TV Movie
Johnny Be Good Wayne Hisler
She's Having a Baby Howard
1989 21 Jump Street Phil Daniels Television; One Episode
1990 Miami Blues Sgt. Frank Lackley
1991 Rich Girl Marvin Wells
1994 I Love Trouble Kenny Bacon
Seinfeld Cushman Television; One Episode: "The Opposite"
1994-1996 One West Waikiki recurring role
1997 Money Talks Detective Bobby Pickett
1997 NewsRadio Steve Johnson Television; One Episode (4x03, The Public Domain)
1997 Boy Meets World Dean Borak Television; Two Episodes
1999 Nash Bridges Micky Tripp (Radio DJ) Television; One Episode (4x10, Hardball)
2001 Not Another Teen Movie Principal Richard "Dick" Vernon
2002 National Lampoon's Van Wilder Professor McDougal
2004 Drake & Josh Mr. Thompson
2005 Abominable Sheriff Halderman
2008 The Book of Caleb James Paddington


  1. ^ a b c "Paul Gleason Biography (1939-)". Film Reference. Advameg, Inc. Retrieved 15 June 2014. Full name, Paul Xavier Gleason; born May 4, 1939, in Jersey City, NJ; died May 27, 2006, in Burbank, CA; son of George L. (a professional boxer, iron worker, restaurateur, and roofing manufacturer) and Eleanor (a registered nurse;maiden name, Doyle) Gleason; married Candy Moore, March 15, 1971 (divorced, 1978); married Joanna Hall (an actress; divorced); children: (first marriage)Shannon, Kaitlin; (second marriage) one son. 
  2. ^ a b c "Paul Gleason". The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group Limited. 30 May 2006. Retrieved 15 June 2014. Paul Gleason, who died on Saturday aged 67, was an actor best known for his roles as a corrupt FBI agent in the comedy Trading Places, as a bumptious high school principal in the "brat pack" movie The Breakfast Club and as a pompous police chief in the action picture Die Hard. Although he trained as an actor with Lee Strasberg, the father of the Method school, most of Gleason's roles were in such lightweight fare. He was a fixture on the American soap opera All My Children, and popped up regularly on popular comedies such as Malcolm in the Middle, Friends and Seinfeld. Gleason's forte was playing pompous authority figures, usually those who insist on a course of action later proved spectacularly wrong-headed. 
  3. ^ "Paul Gleason Statistics and History". Retrieved 2010-08-18. 
  4. ^ Anderson, Jack E. (10 September 1976). "One Of 'Children' Takes Off". The St. Petersburg Evening Independent. Miami: Knight Newspapers. p. 12-B. Retrieved 15 June 2014. At least one of “All My Children,” the much followed ABC soap opera, drifted away from the dramatic fold last week. Paul Gleason, who plays the embittered and introspective David Thronton on the series, stole away for a long delayed holiday in Miami Beach. It was also a homecoming for Paul because he was born and reared in North Miami Beach — and an actor can emote just so long in a role as demanding as Thornton’s before he has to take a break. “I thought it would be good for me to lie in the sun and see my family.” As AMC fans know, Thornton has been through the mill lately. It’s not bad enough he’s haunted by his experiences as a doctor in Vietnam where his brother died on the operating table because there were not enough medical supplies, but now he has fallen in love wilth[sic] a married woman, Ruth what’s-her-name (Mary Fickett), the only character in the story who knows Thornton, working as a medical aide in Pinewood hospital, was once a doctor. That kind of complication (puff, puff) can get on an actor’s nerves. 
  5. ^ Garfield, David (1980). "Appendix: Life Members of The Actors Studio as of January 1980". A Player's Place: The Story of The Actors Studio. New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc. p. 278. ISBN 0-02-542650-8. 
  6. ^ Woods, Sherri (29 November 1975). "Paul Gleason: Miamian Stars as Soaps' Newest Angry Young Man". The Miami News. p. 15. Retrieved 15 June 2014. 

Further reading[edit]

Voisin, Scott, "Character Kings: Hollywood's Familiar Faces Discuss the Art & Business of Acting." BearManor Media, 2009. ISBN 978-1-59393-342-5.

External links[edit]