You Don't Mess with the Zohan
"Audiences that go to my movies don't want a message. They don't want my soul exposed or my life view. They just want to laugh." Dennis Dugan
Starting out in the New York theater scene, Dennis Dugan first made his mark in Hollywood in front of the camera starring in the TV series "Richie Brockelman, Private Eye" (1978), "Empire" (1984), and "Shadow Chasers" (1985). He also appeared in reoccurring roles in "Hill Street Blues" and "Moonlighting."
In the early 1990s, Dugan made his directorial debut with the comedy “Problem Child” (1990; starring John Ritter and Amy Yasbeck). He continued to direct such comedy movies as "Brain Donors" (1992), "Happy Gilmore" (1996), "Beverly Hills Ninja" (1997), "Big Daddy" (1999), "Saving Silverman" (2001), "National Security" (2003), "The Benchwarmers" (2006), "I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry" (2007), and "You Don't Mess with the Zohan" (2008).
The filmmaker, who often collaborates with funny man Adam Sandler, also directed episode(s) of the TV series "Hunter," "Moonlighting," "L.A. Law," "Chicago Hope," "Ally McBeal," "NYPD Blue," and "Hope & Faith," and the TV movies "Columbo: Butterfly in Shades of Grey" (1993), "The Shaggy Dog" (1994), "A Screwball Homicide" (2003), and "Karroll's Christmas" (2004).
This actor-turned-filmmaker has been married twice and has one son.
Childhood and Family:
In Wheaton, Illinois, Dennis Dugan was born on September 5, 1946, to Charles Dugan. He graduated from Wheaton Central High School and went to DePaul University, in Chicago, IL, where he graduated in 1969. Also that year, he graduated from Chicago's Goodman Theater School and subsequently relocated to New York City.
Dennis Dugan, nicknamed “The Duge,” was once married to Joyce Van Patten, the sister of actor Dick Van Patten. He is currently married to Sharon O Connor and has one son, Kelly Dugan.
Richie Brockelman, Private Eye
Acting in high school, Dennis Dugan went on to sharpen his craft at Chicago's Goodman Theater School. After he graduated in 1969, the aspiring actor moved to New York City and appeared off-Broadway in productions of "A Man's Man" and "The House of Blue Leaves." He next appeared in an unaccredited role in Arthur Hiller's Oscar-winning dark comedy, "The Hospital" (1971) and was spotted as a guest in an episode of "The Sixth Sense" and "The Mod Squad."
After making his credited feature debut in “Night Call Nurses” (1972), a thriller directed by Jonathan Kaplan, Dugan relocated to Hollywood in 1973 and acted in the ABC TV-movie “The Girl Most Likely to...,” starring Stockard Channing and Edward Asner. He also made episodic TV appearances in series such as "Love, American Style," "The Waltons," "Cannon," "Good Heavens," "Alice," "Police Story," and "Supertrain," and appeared in the ABC miniseries "Rich Man, Poor Man" (1976; playing Nick Nolte's best friend) and the TV movies "Death Race" (1973), "The Girl Who Couldn't Lose" (1975), "Columbo: Last Salute to the Commodore" (1976), "Father O Father" (1976), "The Fatal Weakness" (1976), and "Last of the Good Guys" (1978). On the big screen, he could be seen in the films "The Day of the Locust" (1975), "Night Moves" (1975), "Smile" (1975), "Harry and Walter Go to New York" (1976), "Norman... Is That You?" (1976) and "The Spaceman and King Arthur" (1979).
During this time, Dugan first appeared in the role of Richie Brockelman, a young private detective, in the 1976 NBC movie “Richie Brockelman: The Missing 24 Hours.” He would later reprise the character for several episodes of NBC's detective drama “The Rockford Files” and played the title role on NBC's “Richie Brockelman, Private Eye.”
In the early 1980s, Dugan had the prominent role of Belinda Balaski's boyfriend in Joe Dante's film inspired by a 1977 horror novel by Gary Brandner, “The Howling” (1981). He also played the recurring role of Captain Freedom in NBC's police drama “Hill Street Blues” (1982) and returned as a series regular in CBS' “Empire” (1984), playing Ben Christian.
After playing the role of flamboyant tabloid reporter Edgar "Benny" Benedek in the ABC mystery TV series “Shadow Chasers” (1985), Dugan made his TV directing debut with a 1987 episode of NBC's detective show starring Fred Dryer, “Hunter.” He then returned in front of the camera and played Cybill Shepherd's husband in ABC's “Moonlighting,” in which several episodes he also directed. He then appeared in John Hughes' “She's Having a Baby” (1988), and portrayed David Brodkey in “Parenthood” (1989).
Entering the 1990s, Dugan made his feature directorial debut with the comedy “Problem Child” (1990; starring John Ritter, Amy Yasbeck, Gilbert Gottfried, Jack Warden, Michael Richards, and Michael Oliver), in which he also played a small role. He went on to direct “Brain Donors” (1992; co-starring John Turturro, Mel Smith, and Bob Nelson), a comedy loosely based on the Marx Brothers' "A Night at the Opera."
In 1993, Dugan made his TV-movie directing debut with ABC's "Columbo: Butterfly in Shades of Grey," a mystery starring Peter Falk and William Shatner, and directed the pilot for the UPN adventure series “Marker” in 1995.
1996 saw Dugan score a major box office triumph with the hockey comedy “Happy Gilmore,” which he directed and starred opposite Adam Sandler. He then directed the less-successful Chris Farley vehicle “Beverly Hills Ninja” (1997), and teamed up again with Sandler as the director of the box office hit comedy “Big Daddy” (1999), which unfortunately was nominated for five Razzie Awards, including Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst Supporting Actor for Rob Schneider, and Worst Screenplay, with Sandler winning the award for Worst Actor.
Dugan returned to the director's chair in 2001 for the big screen comedy “Saving Silverman,” starring Steve Zahn, Jack Black, Jason Biggs, and Amanda Peet. Two years later, he directed Martin Lawrence and Steve Zahn in the comedy “National Security” (2003). During this time, Dugan also directed episodes of ABC's cop drama “NYPD Blue” and Fox's series starring Calista Flockhart, “Ally McBeal.”
After directing the comedy “The Benchwarmers” (2006) with Rob Schneider and David Spade, Dugan directed Adam Sandler and Kevin James in the comedy, "I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry" (2007), which received eight Razzie nominations, including one for Worst Picture and Worst Director.
Recently, Dugan once again directed Adam Sandler in the comedy “You Don't Mess with the Zohan” (2008). He is now directing an untitled Adam Sandler's comedy set to be released in 2010. The movie will feature Kevin James, Rob Schneider, David Spade, and Chris Rock.