Randy Quaid
Birth Date:
October 1, 1950
Birth Place:
Houston, Texas, USA
6' 4½" (1.94 m)
Famous for:
His role as Cousin Eddie in 'Vacation' (1983)
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The Last Detail


“I love playing characters that are bigger than life and maybe have a darker side they present to the world. Those are good characters.” Randy Quaid

A former janitor on Hollywood Boulevard, American actor and comedian Randy Quaid, the older brother of Dennis Quaid, earned an Academy Award nomination thanks to his work with Jack Nicholson in Hal Ashby's “The Last Detail” (1973), where he also picked up Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations for his performance. He received a Fantafestival Award and an Independent Spirit nomination for “Parents” (1989) and a Vancouver Film Critics Circle Award for “Real Time” (2008). Other noteworthy film credits include “The Long Riders” (1980), “The Wraith” (1986), “Days of Hunter” (1990), “The Paper” (1994), “Independence Day” (1996), “Kingpin” (1996), “Not Another Teen Movie” (2001), “The Adventures of Pluto Nash” (2002), “Home on the Range” (2004, voiced Alameda Slim), “The Ice Harvest” (2005) and “Goya's Ghosts” (2006). He is also known for his work with director Peter Bogdanovich in such films as “The Last Picture Show” (1971), “What's Up, Doc” (1972), “Paper Moon” (1973) and “Texasville” (1990) and for playing Cousin Eddie in the National Lampoon’s “Vacation” (1983), “Christmas Vacation” (1989), “Vegas Vacation” (1997) and “Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie's Island Adventure” (2003, TV). On the small screen, Quaid won a Golden Globe Award and an Emmy nomination after starring as Lyndon Johnson in the TV film “LBJ: The Early Years” (1987). He earned a Satellite Award and Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for his supporting role in the TV miniseries “Elvis” (2005). He was also a regular performer on “Saturday Night Live” from 1985 to 1986.

Quaid has been married twice. He has one biological daughter with his first wife Ella Jolly (together from 1980 to 1985) and two adopted children (a daughter and a son) with his current wife Evi Quaid (married since 1989).

Aspiring Golfer

Childhood and Family:

Randy Quaid was born Randall Rudy Quaid on October 1, 1950, in Houston, Texas, to William Quaid (electrician) and Nita Quaid (real estate agent). His parents later divorced and his father died of a heart attack in 1987. Randy is the older brother of actor Dennis Quaid (born April 9, 1954). He also has a younger half brother named Buddy Quaid (born November 26, 1974). Randy was educated at Pershing Middle School and Bellaire High School in Houston. He went on to study drama at the University of Houston, but quit to pursue an acting career. He once considered becoming a professional golfer.

“I liked the challenge of it more than anything else. There's always room to improve. It never gets old. I also like being outside in the sunshine and the people who play golf seem to have a real sense of decency about them.” Randy Quaid (on playing golf)

On May 11, 1980, Randy married Ella Jolly. They welcomed a daughter named Amanda Marie Quaid on born May 29, 1983, but divorced on June 20, 1985. He married Evi Motolaner in October 1989. The couple has since adopted two children, daughter Charlotte Quaid and son Kaki Quaid.

LBJ: The Early Years


Randy Quaid was spotted by director Peter Bogdanovich while working as a standup comedian with actor Trey Wilson and a drama major at the University of Houston. After giving Quaid an unaccredited part in his directorial debut “Targets” (1968), the impressed young filmmaker cast Quaid as Lester Marlowe, one of Cybill Shepherd's suitors, in “The Last Picture Show” (1971), a critically acclaimed adaptation of Larry McMurtry’s semi-autobiographical 1966 novel of the same name.

Quaid made his television acting debut in 1972 alongside Larry Hagman, Barbara Feldon and Gary Collins in the ABC movie “Getting Away from It All,” for director Lee Philips. Also that year, he was reunited with Bogdanovich for the screwball comedy “What's Up, Doc” and appeared in an episode of “Rod Serling's Night Gallery.” He went on to play Leroy in Bogdanovich's “Paper Moon” (1973), which reunited him with “What's Up, Doc” stars Ryan O'Neal and Tatum O'Neal, and Finch Feather on “Lolly-Madonna XXX” (1973), a drama directed by Richard C. Sarafian and written for the screen by Rodney Carr-Smith and Sue Grafton based on Graffon's novel “The Lolly-Madonna War.” He then earned an Academy Award nomination for his scene stealing role of young sailor Larry Meadows in an adaptation of Darryl Ponicsan's “The Last Detail” (1973), which was directed by Hal Ashby, scripted by Robert Towne and starred Jack Nicholson as Buddusky. The role also brought Quaid nominations at the Golden Globes and BAFTA Awards.

Next up, Quaid supported Richard Dreyfuss and Jack Warden in director Ted Kotcheff's “The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz” (1974), based on Mordecai Richler's 1959 novel of the same title. He then worked with Charles Bronson and Robert Duvall in Tom Gries' drama “Breakout” (1975), rejoined Jack Nicholson in the Arthur Penn western “The Missouri Breaks” (1976), played Luther Johnson in Hal Ashby's “Bound for Glory” (1976), and costarred with Christopher Lloyd in the independent film “Three Warriors” (1977), for director Kieth Merrill. He also joined the cast, which included James Wood, Charles Durning, Louis Gossett Jr. and Perry King, in the Robert Aldrich directed crime drama “The Choirboys” (1977) and offered a fine supporting performance as Jimmy Booth in director Alan Parker's “Midnight Express” (1978), from a screenplay by Oliver Stone that was based on Billy Hayes' book of the same name. Quaid returned to the small screen with performances in the television movies “The Great Niagara” (1974), opposite Richard Boone, and “The Last Ride of the Dalton Gang” (1979), where he portrayed Grat Dalton, opposite Cliff Potts as Bob Dalton.

Quaid made his television miniseries debut in CBS' “Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones” (1980). Based on Charles A. Krause's book “Guyana Massacre: The Eyewitness Account,” the show was nominated for four Emmys and won the award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or a Special (Powers Boothe). In the miniseries, Quaid played Clayton Ritchie. 1980 also saw the actor in Adrian Lyne's film “Foxes,” starring Jodie Foster and Cherie Currie, the Walter Hill Western picture “The Long Riders,” where he acted alongside his younger brother Dennis Quaid, and supporting Steve Guttenberg in the CBS television biopic film “To Race the Wind.” Quaid then starred as Lenny Small, opposite Robert Blake as George Milton, in a TV film adaptation of Nobel Prize winning author John Steinbeck's novel “Of Mice and Men” (NBC, 1981), supported Andy Kaufman and Bernadette Peters in Allan Arkush's movie “Heartbeeps” (1981) and played Putzi Hanfstaengel in the ABC television movie “Inside the Third Reich” (1982). He then delivered a notable comic turn as the cousin of Chevy Chase, Eddie, in the box office hit “National Lampoon's Vacation” (1983), which was directed by Harold Ramis and written by John Hughes. In 1984, Quaid appeared on stage in an off-Broadway production of Sam Shepard’s “True West” at New York’s Cherry Lane Theater, in which he was reunited with his brother Dennis, portrayed Harold Mitchell in the CBS remake of “A Streetcar Named Desire,” where he was nominated for a 1984 Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or a Special, and was cast with Chris Penn, Eric Stoltz and Lea Thompson in the comedy “The Wild Life” (directed by Art Linson and written by Cameron Crowe).

“I came to a crossroads early on where Lorne Michaels, out of the blue, asked me to (join the cast of Saturday Night Live). I started doing more comedies after that and I enjoyed doing them but it took me away from doing the kind of dramatic parts I wanted to do.” Randy Quaid

It was in 1985 that Quaid began his one season regular stint on the NBC popular sketch comedy show “Saturday Night Live.” While on the show, the comic impersonated many celebrities, including John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Gregory Peck, Bob Guccione and Ed McMahon. He returned to the show with an unaccredited part in the 1991 episode “Catherine O'Hara/R.E.M.” From 1985 to 1986, Quaid was also seen in such films as “The Slugger's Wife,” a reunion with director Hal Ashby in which he was cast as a pro baseball player, Robert Altman's “Fool for Love,” with Kim Basinger, Harry Dean Stanton and Sam Shepard (also a writer) and Mike Marvin's “The Wraith,” opposite Charlie Sheen, Nick Cassavetes and Sherilyn Fenn.

In 1987, Quaid picked up his second Emmy nomination for his starring role of Lyndon Johnson in the NBC TV film “LBJ: The Early Years,” which depicted the life of former President Lyndon B. Johnson from 1934 until 1963. He went on to win a 1988 Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV for the performance. His subsequent TV roles include Pete Suvak and Kenny Lee in the TV films “Evil in Clear River” (ABC, 1988) and “Dead Solid Perfect” (HBO, 1988), respectively. On the big screen, Quaid played Juan in Mihalis Kakogiannis' “Sweet Country” (1987), Lieutenant Vincent Bracey in Peter Werner's “No Man's Land” (1987, with D.B. Sweeney and Charlie Sheen), Crawford in Alan Metter's “Moving” (1988), Peter Blunt in Harold Ramis' “Caddyshack II” (1988), Nick Laemle in Bob Balaban's “Parents” (1989), for which he received an Independent Spirit nomination for Best Male Lead and a Fantafestival for Best Actor, and Lester in Malcolm Mowbray's “Out Cold” (1989). He reprised his role of Cousin Eddie Johnson in Jeremiah Chechik's “National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation” (1989), the third installment in National Lampoon's “Vacation” film series, teamed up with Madonna and Matt Dillon for Howard Brookner's “Bloodhounds of Broadway” (1989) and starred as songwriter Mark Devereaux in David Odell's “Martians Go Home” (1989).

Entering the 1990s, Quaid recreated his role of Lester Marlow in Bogdanovich's “Texasville” (1990), a sequel to “Last Picture Show,” and played the role of Tim Daland in Tony Scott's “Days of Thunder” (1990), opposite Tom Cruise, Robert Duvall, Nicole Kidman, Cary Elwes, Michael Rooker and John C. Reilly. The same year, he also starred in Alan Metter's “Cold Dog Soup” and supported Bill Murray in the comedy “Quick Change.” From 1991 to 1992, he starred as Dwight Davis in his own short lived sitcom, “Davis Rules,” and after the cancellation of the show, offered a memorable portrayal of The Monster in the British TV horror film “Frankenstein” (1992). He next voiced Anthony's Dad in an episode of the animated series “The Ren & Stimpy Show” (1993) and appeared with Tim Roth and Fairuza Balk in the TV film “Murder in the Heartland.” He next appeared in the TV films “Roomates” (1994), “Next Door” (1994), “Ed McBain's 87th Precinct: Lightning” (1995, as Detective Steve Carella), “Woman Undone” (1996), “The Siege at Ruby Ridge” (1996), “Last Rites” (1998), “Sands of Eden” (1998), “Purgatory” (1999) and “The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns” (1999) and in the TV miniseries “Streets of Laredo” (1995, as John Wesley Hardin). He also guest starred as Bill Johnson in “Gun” (1997).

Despite his hectic TV schedule during the 1990s, Quaid portrayed Elijah C. Skuggs in the comedy “Freaked” (1993), costarred with Michael Keaton, Robert Duvall and Glenn Close in Ron Howard's “The Paper” (1994), landed an unaccredited part in David S. Ward's “Major League II” (1994, starred Charlie Sheen and Tom Berenger), worked with James Woods and Kathy Bates in the based on play “Curse of the Starving Class” (1994, directed by J. Michael McClary) and costarred with Matthew Modine in Sam Weisman's “Bye Bye Love” (1995). After appearing with Sharon Stone and Rob Morrow in Bruce Beresofrd's “Last Dance” (1996), he offered an unforgettable portrayal of Russell Casse in the Roland Emmerich blockbuster action adventure “Independence Day” (1996), played Ishmael in the Farrelly Brothers’ “Kingpin” (1996, with Woody Harrelson and Bill Murray), recreated his role of Cousin Eddie in “Vegas Vacation” (1997) for director Stephen Kessler, and supported Morgan Freeman and Christian Slater in Mikael Salomon's film “Hard Rain” (1998). He also played roles in the films “Bug Buster” (1998), “The Debtors” (1999) and “P.U.N.K.S.” (1999, directed by Sean McNamara).

In 2000, Quaid appeared as Cappy von Trapment in “The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle,” a family film adapted from the TV cartoon “The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show” by Jay Ward. It was followed with performances in Joel Gallen's “Not Another Teen Movie” (2001, as Mr. Briggs), “Back by Midnight” (2002, as Eli Rockwood), “Frank McKlusky, C.I.” (2002, as Madman McKlusky), Ron Underwood's “The Adventures of Pluto Nash” (2002, as Bruno), “Milwaukee, Minnesota” (2003, as Jerry James), “Kart Racer” (2003, as Vic Davies), “Black Cadillac” (2003, as Charlie), “Carolina” (2003, as Theodore Mirabeau) and “Grind” (2003, as Jock Jensen). He also acted in a series of TV films, including “Mail to the Chief” (2000, as President A. Thorton Osgood II) and “The Kennedys” (2001, as Jim Kennedy), made a guest appearance in “Night Visions” (2001), was cast as the father in the Fox short lived sitcom “The Grubbs” (2002) and starred as Chief Hank Shaw in the David E. Kelley short lived drama “The Brotherhood of Poland, New Hampshire” (NBC, 2003).

Quaid next reprised his role of Eddie Johnson in the made for TV sequel “National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie's Island Adventure” (2003), portrayed Captain Flint in the adventure film “Treasure Island Kids: The Battle of Treasure Island” (2004), provided the voice of Alameda Slim in the animated musical film “Home on the Range” (2004), which also starred the voices of Roseanne Barr, Judi Dench, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Jennifer Tilly and Steve Buscemi, costarred with Timothy Hutton in the miniseries “5ive Days to Midnight” (2004, played Irwin Sikorski) and portrayed Brian Dennehy's friend, Tornado Tommy Dixon, in the CBS miniseries “Category 6: Day of Destruction” (2004). However, Quaid did not earn major success on television until he was cast as Tom Parker in the CBS miniseries “Elvis” (2005), which chronicled the rise of American music icon Elvis Presley. Starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Elvis, the Patrick Sheane Duncan written and James Steven Sadwith directed biopic was nominated for six Emmys, including Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie for Quaid. The actor also picked up a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television and a Satellite Award for Outstanding Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television. Quaid gained further recognition on the big screen with his portrayal of Joe Aguirre in the successful drama “Brokeback Mountain” (2005), which was directed by Ang Lee. Costarring with Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway and Michelle Williams, he jointly nabbed a Screen Actors Guild nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture and a Gotham nomination for Best Ensemble Cast. The same year, he reprised his role of Tornado Tommy Dixon in the TV miniseries sequel “Category 7: The End of the World” and was cast opposite John Cusack in “Ice Harvest,” a dark comedy directed by Harold Ramis.

In 2006, Quaid narrated the TV miniseries “Texas Ranch House,” appeared in the pilot of “Blade: The Series” (2006), voiced Rockin' Rory in the direct to video “Stanley's Dinosaur Round-Up” (2006) and played King Carlos IV in the Milos Forman “Goya's Ghosts” (2006, opposite Natalie Portman, Javier Bardem and Stellan Skarsgård). He resurfaced in 2008 as Reuben in “Real Time,” which premiered at the 2008 Slamdance Film Festival, and received a 2009 Vancouver Film Critics Circle (VFCC) for Best Supporting Actor in a Canadian Film for the performance. The film also starred Jay Baruchel. He reappeared a year later in the direct to video comedy film “Balls Out: Gary the Tennis Coach,” playing Coach Lew Tuttle. Despite a significant decrease in work, Quaid became known for his recent legal problems. In 2008, he was expelled from the Actors' Equity Association for conduct that caused “Lone Star Love” to close during its pre-Broadway run. He was also fined more than $81,000. In September 2009, he and his wife Evi were arrested in Texas and accused of not paying a hotel bill in Santa Barbara, California. They were arrested again in Santa Barbara in April 2010 after missing court dates for the case. They were later released on bail.


  • Vancouver Film Critics Circle (VFCC): Best Supporting Actor in a Canadian Film, “Real Time,” 2009

  • Satellite: Outstanding Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television, “Elvis,” 2005

  • Fantafestival: Best Actor, “Parents,” 1989

  • Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV, “LBJ: The Early Years,” 1988

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