Alan Rachins
Birth Date:
October 3, 1942
Birth Place:
Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
Famous for:
His role as Douglas Brackman in LA Law (1986)
Show more

L.A. Law


American character actor Alan Rachins kicked off his career on stage before taking some time off from acting and writing. He made a major comeback in Henry Jaglom's independent film “Always” (1985), but it was his portrayal of Douglas Brackman Jr. in the long running NBC drama “L.A. Law” (1986-1994) that made him famous and earned him Emmy and Golden Globe nominations. He gained additional recognition on the small screen with his role of the radical father of Dharma in the ABC sitcom “Dharma & Greg” (1997-2002). More recently, Rachins voiced Norman Osborn in the cartoon series “The Spectacular Spider-Man” (2008-2009). Rachins has also guest starred in the TV series “Tales from the Crypt,” “Diagnosis Murder,” “In-Laws,” “Just Shoot Me,” “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” “Eli Stone” and “Surviving Suburbia” and acted in many TV films. He picked up a Razzie nomination for his performance in the notoriously bad film “Showgirls” (1995).

Rachins and his actress wife, Joanna Frank, whom he has been married to since 1978, founded a production company called Allofit Productions.

Empire State College

Childhood and Family:

The son of Edward and Ida Rachins, Alan Rachins was born on October 3, 1942, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His father ran the family business of food preparation called Snow Crest.

Alan graduated from Brookline High School in Brookline, Massachusetts, and at his dad's insistence majored in business at the prestigious Wharton School of Finance of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. However, he quit after two years to pursue an acting career in New York. He trained under the acting coaches Harvey Lembeck, Kim Stanley and William Ball, and in 1972, was accepted in the writing and directing programs at the American Film Institute. Rachins graduated from New York’s Empire State College in 1974.

Alan married actress Joanna Frank (born in 1941) on March 11, 1978. They have a son named Robert.

Dharma & Greg


Arriving in New York in 1963, Alan Rachins trained with big names like Kim Stanley and Harvey Lembeck before making his Broadway debut in the short lived “After the Rain” in 1967. He followed it up with roles in the original Broadway production of “Hadrian VII” (1969) and off-Broadway productions of “The Trojan Women” and the controversial “Oh! Calcutta” (also in 1969), among others.

Rachins decided to put his career on the back burner and in 1972 began studying writing and directing at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. As a result of his training, he began writing scripts for episodes of drama series, including “Quincy, M.E.,” “The Fall Guy” and “Knight Rider.” He made his TV directing debut with an episode of the CBS cob drama “Paris.” In addition, Rachins landed guest spots in a string of TV series, such as the political drama “Fear on Trial” (1975), which marked his TV acting debut, the basketball series “The White Shadow” (1978), the detective series “Barnaby Jones” (1979) and the prime time soap opera “Dallas” (1979, all CBS).

Rachins moved on to the big screen in the early 1980s when he appeared in the bit part of a jeweler in the forgettable film “Time Walker” (1982), which was directed by Tom Kennedy and starred Ben Murphy. It was not until he was cast in an important role in the critically acclaimed independent film “Always” (1985), helmed and written by and starring Henry Jaglom, that the Massachusetts native gained real attention.

Thanks to his impressive performance in “Always,” Rachins landed a series regular role on the television legal drama “L.A. Law” (NBC, 1986-1994), which was created by his brother-in-law, Steven Bochco. Portraying insensitive attorney Douglas Brackman Jr., his performance was critically applauded and he was handed Emmy and Golden Globe nominations in the category of Best Supporting Actor.

While working on the show, Rachins also appeared in “Thunder Run” (1986), a thriller directed by Gary Hudson, the TV films “Mistress” (1987, starred Victoria Principal) and “Single Women Married Men” (1989). He also appeared in a 1988 episode of “J.J. Starbuck.” From 1990 to 1994, he could be seen in the films “Heart Condition” (1990), from director/writer James D. Parriott and starring Bob Hopkins and Denzel Washington, “Perry Mason: The Case of the Silenced Singer” (1990, TV), “She Says She's Innocent” (1991, TV), “Jackie Collins' 'Lady Boss’” (1992, TV), Rick Jacobson's “Terminal Voyage” (1994) and “Hart to Hart: Crimes of the Hart” (1994, TV). He also appeared in episodes of “The Golden Girls” and “Tales from the Crypt” (both 1991) and in the pilot “Ferris Bueller” (1990).

After the demise of “L.A. Law,” Rachins supported Elijah Wood, Jason Alexander and Julia Louis-Dreyfus in the Rob Reiner directed comedy “North” (1994), which Alan Zweibel scripted based on his own novel. He then costarred in Paul Verhoeven's disappointing “Showgirls” (1995), opposite Elizabeth Berkley, Kyle MacLachlan, Gina Gershon, and Gina Ravera.

Rachins did not appear in another film until 1997 when he was cast as Judge Randel Williams in Peter Baldwin's comedy “Meet Wally Sparks,” starring Rodney Dangerfield and Debi Mazar. He followed it up with the memorable supporting role of Fred Rutherford in the unsuccessful big screen adaptation of the TV sitcom “Leave It to Beaver” (also 1997), which starred Christopher McDonald as Ward, Janine Turner as June, Erik von Detten as Wally, and Cameron Finley as the Beaver. Rachins also made guest appearances in TV series like “Diagnosis Murder,” “The Outer Limits” and “Stargate SG-1” during 1996 and 1997 and became a regular cast member of the ABC comedy series “Dharma & Greg” (1997-2002).

Rachins appeared in the television films “A Family in Crisis: The Elian Gonzales Story” (2000) and “The Retrievers” (2001) before reprising his role of Douglas Brackman Jr. in the TV movie reunion “L.A. Law: The Movie” (2002). He went on to appear in episodes of “In-Laws” (2002), “Just Shoot Me” (2003), “Justice League” (2005), “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” (2005), “Close to Home” (2006) and “Eli Stone” (2008) and played Paul in the ABC television movie “Enough About Me” (2005).

Still on television, Rachins next provided the voice of Norman Osmond, Harry's father and the head of OsCorp, in the animated series “The Spectacular Spider-Man” (2008-2009). In August 2009, he played Pa in the episode “No Reception” of the ABC comedy series “Surviving Suburbia.”

Rachins has never forgotten his roots. Recent stage credits include “Attacks Of The Heart,” “Inherit The Wind” (as Matthew Harrison Brady), “La Cage Aux Folles” (played the flamboyant Albin), “Love Letters” (with Swoosie Kurtz) and “Promises, Promises” (opposite Jason Alexander, Jean Smart and Alan Thicke).


Show Less