kids encyclopedia robot

Bruce Dern facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
Bruce Dern
Bruce Dern by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Dern in 2015
Bruce MacLeish Dern

(1936-06-04) June 4, 1936 (age 87)
Education New Trier High School
Alma mater University of Pennsylvania
The Actors Studio
Occupation Actor
Years active 1960–present
Marie Dawn Pierce
(m. 1957; div. 1959)
(m. 1960; div. 1969)
Andrea Beckett
(m. 1969)
Children 2, including Laura Dern
Relatives George Dern (grandfather)
Andrew MacLeish (great-grandfather)
Archibald MacLeish (granduncle)

Bruce MacLeish Dern (born June 4, 1936) is an American actor. He has received several accolades, including the Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actor and the Silver Bear for Best Actor. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Coming Home (1978) and the Academy Award for Best Actor for Nebraska (2013). He is also a BAFTA Award, two-time Genie Award, and three-time Golden Globe Award nominee.

A member of The Actors Studio, he rose to prominence during the New Hollywood era, through roles in films such as They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969), The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant (1971), The Cowboys, Silent Running, and The King of Marvin Gardens (all 1972). Other notable films include The Great Gatsby (1974), Posse (1975), Family Plot (1976), Black Sunday (1977), The Driver (1978), Tattoo (1981), That Championship Season (1982), Monster (2003), The Hateful Eight (2015), The Artist's Wife (2019), and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019). He played Frank Harlow in the HBO series Big Love (2006–2011).

Dern is the father of actress Laura Dern, with his ex-wife, actress Diane Ladd.

Early life

Dern was born in Chicago, the son of Jean (née MacLeish; 1908–1972) and John Dern (1903–1958), a utility chief and attorney. He grew up in Kenilworth, Illinois. His paternal grandfather, George Dern, was a Utah governor and Secretary of War (he was serving in the latter position during the time of Bruce's birth). Dern's maternal grandfather was a Vice President of the Carson, Pirie and Scott stores, which were established by his own father, Scottish-born businessman Andrew MacLeish. Dern's maternal granduncle was poet Archibald MacLeish. His godfather was governor and two-time presidential nominee Adlai Stevenson II. Dern attended New Trier High School and the University of Pennsylvania. A lifelong avid runner, he was a track star in high school and sought to qualify for the Olympic Trials in 1956.


Bruce Dern Cannes 2013
Dern at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival

Dern studied at the Actors Studio, alongside Elia Kazan and Lee Strasberg. He starred with Lyle Kessler in the Philadelphia premiere of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot. Dern starred with Paul Newman and Geraldine Page in the original Broadway run of Tennessee Williams' Sweet Bird of Youth.

In the 1960s, Dern played the sailor in a few flashbacks in Marnie and a murdered lover in Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte. He played a murderous rustler in Hang 'Em High, a gunfighter in Support Your Local Sheriff!, and an impoverished farmer in the film adaptation of Horace McCoy's novel They Shoot Horses, Don't They?.

In Mark Rydell's western film The Cowboys, he played a cattle thief who kills a rancher (John Wayne). Dern had a leading role in the ecological science-fiction film Silent Running and co-starred with Jack Nicholson in The King of Marvin Gardens. Dern played Tom Buchanan in the film adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby (1974). In Kirk Douglas' Revisionist Western film Posse, Dern played a train-robber who uses his wiles to turn the tables on his captor, an ambitious, politically minded marshal. Dern starred in the beauty pageant satire film Smile, and in Alfred Hitchcock's final film Family Plot. He played a detective on the trail of a getaway driver (Ryan O'Neal) in the neo-noir film The Driver. In John Frankenheimer's thriller film Black Sunday, Dern played a vengeful Vietnam War veteran and Goodyear Blimp pilot who launches a massive terrorist attack at the Super Bowl.

Dern played another Vietnam veteran and the disturbed husband of a perplexed woman (Jane Fonda) in Hal Ashby's war film Coming Home, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

He won the Silver Bear for Best Actor at the 33rd Berlin International Film Festival for his performance in Jason Miller's That Championship Season (1982).

Over the next few decades, Dern played a Vietnam veteran and neighborhood survivalist in Joe Dante's suburban satire The 'Burbs, a local crime boss in Michael Ritchie's Diggstown, a rival of Wild Bill Hickok in Walter Hill's Wild Bill, and George Spahn in Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Dern's autobiography, Things I've Said, But Probably Shouldn't Have: An Unrepentant Memoir, was published in 2007.

In Alexander Payne's film Nebraska, Dern played a resident believing he has won a million dollars, and undertakes a road trip from Billings, Montana to Lincoln, Nebraska to claim the prize. He won the Best Actor Award at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor.

Directors and craft

In the course of his long and prolific career, Dern collaborated with film directors including Walter Hill (The Driver, Wild Bill and Last Man Standing), Joe Dante (The 'Burbs, Small Soldiers and The Hole), and Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained, The Hateful Eight and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood). In an interview for The A.V. Club, Dern said, "I always say that I feel like I've worked for six geniuses in my career... And the six directors, not in any order, would be Mr. Kazan, Mr. Hitchcock, Douglas Trumbull, Alexander Payne, Quentin Tarantino, and Francis Coppola." In an interview with Josh Olson and Joe Dante for the podcast series The Movies That Made Me, and while discussing his career, Dern cited the films of David Lean (specifically, Lawrence of Arabia, Great Expectations and The Bridge on the River Kwai), as among the films that inspired him.

When asked if he has ever contemplated retirement, Dern has stated, "If you think I'm gonna retire so Jimmy Caan can get another part from me, you're dead wrong. Because I'm gonna go till I'm 100. My goal is to do stuff with older characters that people never got the chance to do, because they never lived long enough... And because I don't have anything else I can do."

Personal life

Dern was married to Marie Dawn Pierce from 1957 to 1959. He married Diane Ladd in 1960. Their first daughter, Diane Elizabeth Dern (born November 29, 1960), died at eighteen months from head injuries after falling into a swimming pool on May 18, 1962. The couple's second daughter, Laura, is also an actress. After his divorce from Ladd in 1969, Dern married Andrea Beckett. Dern, Ladd and Laura received adjoining stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on November 1, 2010.


Not yet released Denotes works that have not yet been released


Year Title Role Notes
1960 Wild River Jack Roper Uncredited
1962 The Crimebusters Joe Krajac
1964 Marnie Sailor
Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte John Mayhew
1966 The Wild Angels Joe "Loser" Kearns
1967 The War Wagon Hammond
The St. Valentine's Day Massacre John May
The Trip John
Waterhole No. 3 Deputy Sam Tippen
Will Penny Rafe Quint
1968 Psych-Out Steve Davis
Hang 'Em High Miller
1969 Support Your Local Sheriff! Joe Danby
Castle Keep Lt. Billy Byron Bix
Number One Richie Fowler
The Cycle Savages Keeg
They Shoot Horses, Don't They? James Bates
1970 Bloody Mama Kevin Dirkman
The Rebel Rousers J.J. Weston
1971 The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant Dr. Roger Girard
Drive, He Said Coach Bullion
1972 The Cowboys Asa Watts (Long Hair)
Silent Running Freeman Lowell
Thumb Tripping Smitty
The King of Marvin Gardens Jason Staebler
1973 Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid Deputy Uncredited
The Laughing Policeman Leo Larsen
1974 The Great Gatsby Tom Buchanan
1975 Posse Jack Strawhorn
Smile Big Bob Freelander
1976 Family Plot George Lumley
Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood Grayson Potchuck
The Twist William Brandels
1977 Black Sunday Michael Lander
1978 Coming Home Captain Bob Hyde
The Driver The Detective
1980 Middle Age Crazy Bobby Lee Burnett
1982 That Championship Season George Sitkowski
Harry Tracy, Desperado Harry Tracy
1986 On the Edge Wes Holman
1987 The Big Town Mr. Edwards
World Gone Wild Ethan
1988 1969 Cliff Denny
1989 The 'Burbs Mark Rumsfield
1990 After Dark, My Sweet Garrett "Uncle Bud" Stoker
1992 Diggstown John Gillon
1995 Wild Bill Will Plummer
1996 Down Periscope Admiral Yancy Graham
Mulholland Falls The Chief Uncredited
Last Man Standing Sheriff Ed Galt
1998 Small Soldiers Link Static (Voice)
1999 The Haunting Mr. Dudley
If... Dog... Rabbit... McGurdy
2000 All the Pretty Horses The Judge
2001 The Glass House Alvin Begleiter
2003 Masked and Anonymous Editor
Milwaukee, Minnesota Sean McNally
Monster Thomas
2005 Madison Harry Volpi
Down in the Valley Charlie
2006 Believe in Me Ellis Brawley
Walker Payne Chester
The Astronaut Farmer Hal
The Hard Easy Gene
2007 The Cake Eaters Easy Kimbrough
2007 The Death and Life of Bobby Z Hippy Narrator Uncredited
2008 Swamp Devil Howard Blame
The Golden Boys Captain Perez Ryder
2009 American Cowslip Cliff
The Hole 3D Creepy Carl
The Lightkeepers Bennie
2010 Trim Dale Banks
2011 Choose Dr. Ronald Pendleton
Inside Out Vic Small
Twixt Bobby LaGrange
2012 From Up on Poppy Hill Yoshio Onodera (voice) English dub
Hitting the Cycle James
Django Unchained Curtis Carrucan
2013 Coffin Baby Vance Henrickson
Northern Borders Austin Kittredge Sr.
Nebraska Woody Grant
Fighting for Freedom Christian Dobbe
2014 Cut Bank Georgie Wits
2015 The Hateful Eight General Sanford Smithers
2017 American Violence Richard Morton
Class Rank Oswald Flannigan
The Lears Davenport Lear
Hickok Doc Rivers O'Roark
Our Souls at Night Dorlan Becker
Chappaquiddick Joseph P. Kennedy Sr.
2018 Nostalgia Ronnie Ashemore
White Boy Rick Ray Wershe
Freaks Alan/Mr. Snowcone
Warning Shot Calvin
American Dresser King
Lez Bomb Grandpa
2019 The Mustang Myles
The Peanut Butter Falcon Carl
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood George Spahn
Remember Me Claude
Swing Low Mallinckroft
Inherit the Viper Clay Carter
QT8: The First Eight Himself Documentary
The Artist's Wife Richard Smythson
Badland Reginald Cooke
2020 Emperor Levi Coffin
Death in Texas Reynolds
2021 Last Call Coach Finnegan
Buck Alamo Death
Overrun Arkadi Dubkova
The Gateway Marcus
Hands that Bind Hank
Christmas vs. the Walters Cliff Walters
Last Shoot Out Blair Callahan
2022 The Hater Frank
Hellblazers Bill Unger
Mid-Century Emil Larson
The Most Dangerous Game Whitney Tyler
2023 The Weapon Doris
Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch Mike Cassidy
Chocolate Lizards Scheermeyer
Butch vs. Sundance Mike Cassidy
Hunting Games Henry
Old Dads Richie Jacobs
TBD Reminisce Not yet released Papa Joe Post-production
The Devil's Trap Not yet released TBA Post-production
Feathered Not yet released Rock Post-production
Bloodline Killer Not yet released TBA Filming


Year Title Role Notes
1960 Route 66 Albert Episode: "The Man on the Monkey Board"
1961 Naked City Hollis / Nicky Uncredited
2 episodes
1961 Sea Hunt FBI Agent John Furillo Episode: "Crime at Sea"
1961 Surfside 6 Johnny Page Episode: "Daphne, Girl Detective"
1961 Thriller Johnny Norton Episode: "The Remarkable Mrs. Hawk"
1961 Ben Casey Billy Harris Episode: "A Dark Night for Billy Harris"
1961 The Detectives Jud Treadwell Episode: "Act of God"
1961–1962 Cain's Hundred Eddie Light / Joe Krajac 2 episodes
1962–1963 Stoney Burke E.J. Stocker 17 episodes
1962–1963 The Dick Powell Show Deering 2 episodes
1963 Kraft Suspense Theatre Maynard Episode: "The Hunt"
1963 The Outer Limits Ben Garth Episode: "The Zanti Misfits"
1963–1965 Wagon Train Wilkins / Jud Fisher / Seth Bancroft 3 episodes
1963–1966 The Fugitive Deputy Martin / Charley / Hutch / Hank / Cody 5 episodes
1964–1965 The Virginian Bert Kramer / Lee Darrow / Pell 3 episodes
1964 77 Sunset Strip Ralph Wheeler Episode: "Lovers' Lane"
1964 The Greatest Show on Earth Vernon Episode: "The Last of the Strongmen"
1964 The Alfred Hitchcock Hour Jesse / Roy Bullock 2 episodes
1964–1965 Twelve O'Clock High TSgt. Frank Jones / Lieutenant Michaels / Lieutenant Danton 4 episodes
1965 Rawhide Ed Rankin Episode: "Walk into Terror"
1965 Laredo Joe Durkee Episode: "Rendezvous at Arillo"
1965 A Man Called Shenandoah Bobby Ballantine Episode: "The Verdict"
1965, 1968 The F.B.I. Virgil Roy Phipps / PFC Byron Landy 2 episodes
Gunsmoke Guerin / Lou Stone / Judd Print / Doyle Phleger 4 episodes
1966 Branded Les Episode: "The Wolfers"
1966 The Loner Merrick Episode: "To Hang a Dead Man"
1966 Disneyland Turk Episode: "Gallegher Goes West: Crusading Reporter"
1966–1967 Run for Your Life Alex Ryder 3 episodes
1966–1968 The Big Valley Jack Follet / Harry Dixon / Clovis / Gabe Skeels / John Weaver 5 episodes
1968–1969 Lancer Tom Nevill / Lucas Thatcher 2 episodes
1968, 1970 Bonanza Bayliss / Cully Maco 2 episodes
1969 Then Came Bronson Bucky O'Neill Episode: "Amid Splinters of the Thunderbolt"
1970 Land of the Giants Thorg Episode: "Wild Journey"
1970 The High Chaparral Wade Episode: "Only the Bad Come to Sonora"
1970 The Immortal Luther Seacombe Episode: "To the Gods Alone"
1985 Space Stanley Mott 5 episodes
1985 Toughlove Rob Charters Television film
1987 Roses Are for the Rich Douglas Osborne Television film
1987 Uncle Tom's Cabin Augustine St. Claire Television film
1989 Trenchcoat in Paradise John Hollander Television film
1990 The Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson Scout Ed Higgins Television film
1991 Into the Badlands T.L. Barston Television film
1991 Carolina Skeletons Junior Stoker Television film
1993 It's Nothing Personal Billy Archer Television film
1994 Dead Man's Revenge Payton McCay Television film
1994 Amelia Earhart: The Final Flight George Putnam Television film
1995 A Mother's Prayer John Walker Television film
1995 Mrs. Munck Patrick Leary Television film
1999 Hard Time: The Premonition Winston Television film
2003 King of the Hill Randy Strickland (voice) Episode: "Boxing Luanne"
2003 Hard Ground Nate Hutchinson Television film
2006–2011 Big Love Frank Harlow 29 episodes
2007 CSI: NY Vet Episode: "Boo"
2013 Pete's Christmas Grandpa Television film
2016 The Cowboy Himself Television series documentary, 2 episodes
2019 Black Monday Rod "The Jammer" Jaminski 2 episodes
2019 Mr. Mercedes John Rothstein 8 episodes
2021 Goliath Frank Zax 8 episodes

Video games

Year Title Role
2020 Shadow Stalkers The Director
2020 MegaRace: DeathMatch Rabies

Awards and nominations

Year Title Award
1972 Drive, He Said National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor
1973 The Cowboys Bronze Wrangler for Best Theatrical Motion Picture
1975 The Great Gatsby Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
1979 Coming Home Nominated – Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
1983 That Championship Season Silver Bear for Best Actor
2009 Swamp Devil Philadelphia Film Festival Jury Prize
2014 Nebraska AARP Annual Movies for Grownups Award for Best Actor
Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Cast
Cannes Film Festival Best Actor Award
Dublin Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
National Board of Review Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Academy Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Alliance of Women Film Journalists Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Alliance of Women Film Journalists Award for Best Ensemble Cast
Nominated – American Comedy Award for Comedy Actor – Film
Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
Nominated – Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Cast
Nominated – Central Ohio Film Critics Association Award for Best Ensemble
Nominated – Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Gold Derby Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Nominated – Guardian Film Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Houston Film Critics Society Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead
Nominated – London Film Critics Circle Award for Actor of the Year
Nominated – San Francisco Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Nominated – St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Satellite Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture
2019 Freaks Best Actor at Horrorant International Film Festival

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Bruce Dern para niños

kids search engine
Bruce Dern Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.