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James Brolin

James Brolin in November 1981
Born Craig Kenneth Bruderlin
July 18, 1940 (1940-07-18) (age 69)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Other name(s) James M. Brolin
Craig J. Brolin
Occupation Actor, producer, director
Years active 1961 – present
Spouse(s) Barbra Streisand (1998-present)
Jan Smithers (1986–1995)
Jane Cameron Agee (1966–1984)

James Brolin (pronounced /ˈbroʊlɨn/; born July 18, 1940) is an American television, film, character actor, producer, and director, best known for his roles in soap operas, movies, sitcoms, and television. He is the father of actor Josh Brolin and husband of singer/actress Barbra Streisand.




Early life

Brolin was born Craig Kenneth Bruderlin in Los Angeles, California. The eldest of two brothers and two sisters, he was the son of Helen Sue (née Mansur), a homemaker, and Henry Bruderlin, a building contractor.[1][2] The family settled in Westwood after his birth. As a young child, he was apparently more interested in animals and airplanes than in acting. When young Bruderlin was 10 in 1950, he began building model airplanes and was taught to fly them. As a teenaged moviegoer in the mid-1950s he was particularly fascinated with actor James Dean. When his parents invited a director over to his family's house for dinner before auditioning, he met another fellow actor and classmate, Ryan O'Neal, who was about a year younger than Brolin, and the two clicked, while the two enrolled in Los Angeles's renowned University High School. However, Bruderlin's own acting exposed his stifling shyness. His assurance grew when O'Neal invited him to a casting agency. Brolin graduated from high school in 1958, and his family was already encouraging him to become an actor like O'Neal.

Early career

Prior to taking acting classes in school, Brolin started out as a character actor on an episode of Bus Stop in 1961. The part led to parts in other television productions such as Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Margie, Love, American Style, Twelve O'Clock High and The Long, Hot Summer. He made 3 guest appearances on the popular 1960s series Batman, alongside Adam West and Burt Ward, as well as roles in The Virginian, and Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law alongside Arthur Hill and Lee Majors. He also had a recurring role on the short-lived television series The Monroes.

At the age of 20 he changed his last name from "Bruderlin" to "Brolin" to become James Brolin. He accepted a contract with 20th Century Fox. While in school struggling to make it big, he met future young actor Clint Eastwood. Brolin also had small roles in several movies including Take Her, She's Mine (1963), Dear Brigitte (1965), Von Ryan's Express (1965), Fantastic Voyage (1966). The following year, his first big role was in The Cape Town Affair (1967), but it did not receive any success at the box office. Brolin was ultimately fired by 20th Century Fox.

Film work

During the 1970s, the 6 ft 4 inch Brolin began appearing in leading roles in films, including Skyjacked (1972), and Westworld (1973). By the mid-1970s, he was a regular leading man in films, starring in Gable and Lombard (1976), The Car (1977), Capricorn One (1978), The Amityville Horror (1979) and High Risk (1981). When Roger Moore expressed his desire to leave the role of James Bond, Brolin screen tested for the role in the next film Octopussy (1983). Ultimately, however, Moore decided to continue in the series.

In 1985, Brolin parodied his near-hiring as James Bond in the film Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. In a film within the film, he merged the characters of Bond and Pee-Wee Herman, the "real" version of whom was played by Paul Reubens. He is referred to as "PW" and the role of Pee-Wee Herman's girlfriend "Dottie" is played by Morgan Fairchild.

Television roles

Brolin has starred in three television series in a career which has spanned four decades. He became widely-known for his roles as Robert Young's youthful, skilled assistant physician, Dr. Steven Kiley, on Marcus Welby, M.D. (1969–1976), Peter McDermott on Hotel (1983–1988), and Lt. Col. Bill "Raven" Kelly on Pensacola: Wings of Gold (1997–2000). He also had a recurring role as Governor and presidential candidate Robert Ritchie in The West Wing.

In 1968, Brolin transferred to Universal Studios, where he auditioned for a co-starring role opposite seasoned actor Robert Young in the popular medical drama Marcus Welby, M.D. The series was one of the top-rated television shows of the day. Brolin won the role of Dr. Steven Kiley, a young doctor working with another more experienced doctor, and the chemistry between Young & Brolin clicked, and even came to attract young women for its medical interest throughout the show's run. In its first season in 1970, Brolin won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, and was subsequently nominated three more times. He was also nominated for Golden Globes three times for Best Supporting Actor, and won twice between 1971 and 1973. Brolin starred in TV-made movies of the week Short Walk to Daylight (1972) and Trapped (1973).

In 1983, Brolin returned to television to star in another popular series. He teamed with producer Aaron Spelling for the pilot episode of a prime-time soap opera, Hotel, for ABC. On this show he played Peter MacDermott, a hotel manager who tried to help everyone solve their problems while letting love come into his own life at the same time. Co-starring on the show was a new actress, Shari Belafonte as Peter's receptionist, Julie Gillette, a familiar actress, Connie Sellecca, as Brolin's promotions manager and later girlfriend, Christine Francis, and another Nathan Cook as Billy Griffin, an ex-con who later became Peter's best friend. They each had a wonderful chemistry with Brolin on the set. As with Marcus Welby, this show was a ratings winner. Brolin was nominated twice for Golden Globes between 1983 and 1984 for Best Performance By an Actor in a TV Series, but didn't win either time. He would eventually serve as a director on the show, as well. On one episode of Hotel, he invited his future wife Jan Smithers to guest-star on the show as the writers suggested that they develop a storyline for them, as Brolin was going through a difficult divorce at the time. By 1988, after 5 seasons, Hotel was about to close its doors for good and the show was cancelled. That same year, his co-star, Cook had died of an allergic reaction to penicillin, and Brolin along with the rest of his cast attended his funeral.

Sellecca said of Brolin's on-screen chemistry with him on Hotel, "I remember instantly feeling comfortable with Jim, and that's the thing that Jim has as to women, most women, they need to feel safe, and Jim gets that." She also said, "To have him in a different role and have that confidence, it was a wonderful experience." After the show's cancellation, Sellecca continues to be good friends with Brolin. In 1992, her mentor was the best man at her and John Tesh's wedding. The 1995 death of Brolin's first wife, Jane, had drawn the actor himself & Sellecca closer together, as Connie was one of a few people to find out about this.

As the new decade approached, Brolin starred in both Angel Falls for CBS and Extreme for ABC, although neither matched the popularity of his earlier series.

In 1997, Brolin's luck changed with the syndicated television series Pensacola: Wings of Gold. He played the role of Lt. Col. Bill "Raven" Kelly, whose job was to teach young Marines in a special unit, before being promoted to work with a group of talented Marine fighter pilots. Brolin served as an executive producer and director on the series. In 2000, however, the show was cancelled after 66 episodes due to low ratings.

In 1998, he hosted Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction, a television series that shows five stories which have to do with the paranormal and supernatural. Johnathan Frakes took his place after the first season of the show.

Recent work

Brolin has had a number of supporting roles in major cinema releases since 2000. These include (amongst others) the role of General Ralph Landry, outgoing director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy in Steven Soderbergh's Oscar-winning Traffic (2000); as Jack Barnes in Steven Spielberg's Catch Me If You Can (2002); a minor role in the 2003 comedy A Guy Thing; as philandering husband Robert Hatch in the 2006 comedy The Alibi (released in the UK as Lies and Alibis); as Jack Jennings in the 2007 movie The American Standards; as TV network anchor Frank Harris in Richard Shepard's The Hunting Party (2007); and as Brian in Joel Hopkins' 2008 movie Last Chance Harvey with Emma Thompson and Dustin Hoffman.

In late 2003, Brolin was supposed to play Ronald Reagan in the TV movie The Reagans. After creative differences, controversial scripts, and rising costs, CBS decided to scrap The Reagans, but then chose to move it to cable channel Showtime, also owned by Viacom. Brolin played the role, and was nominated for another Emmy Award, making it his fifth Emmy nomination, and a Golden Globe, also his fifth nomination there, although he didn't win either award.

In 2002, Brolin played Governor Robert Ritchie of Florida, the Republican opponent of President Jed Bartlet on the TV series The West Wing. In Bartlet's words, he had "turned being unengaged into a Zen-like thing" and seemed to enjoy it. The character seemed to be a parody of real-life President George W. Bush, whose brother, John Ellis "Jeb" Bush, was the Governor of Florida at the time. In a coincidence, his son Josh would portray George W. Bush in Oliver Stone's 2008 film W.

In 2005, Brolin guest starred on the TV series Monk as casino owner Daniel Thorn. In 2006, Brolin played the Governor of Maine, who in order to get re-elected, opposes the legalization of gay marriage, in the A&E Network movie Wedding Wars. In 2008, Brolin guest starred on Law & Order: SVU as astronaut Col. Dick Finley. The same year, Brolin also starred in the lead role in the Sci-fi Channel movie Lost City Raiders.

Brolin appeared in the 2009 film The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard, starring Jeremy Piven, Ving Rhames, Ed Helms, Ken Jeong, and Alan Thicke.

He also appeared in an episode of Psych, which aired on August 22, 2009. He played the sheriff in this episode, which is titled "High Noon-ish".


According to an A&E Biography, it was mentioned that Brolin also did a lot of flying in real-life, and on Pensacola: Wings of Gold.


  • James on winning his first Emmy Award in 1970 for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: "Well, you start these shows out with a bang, don't you? Well, I ... I had no speech. I ... started to write one and my wife came in and asked me, what I was doing. I said I was writing a speech. And she said, 'What for? You haven't got a chance in hell!' But here I am. Geez!" (Source: A&
  • James: "I think you can have a whole terrific, smart career as a second and third banana and work more and have much less risk than the lead guy. But I like being the lead guy." (Source: A&
  • James as a director: "One of the things I love about directing is I love actors, because no matter how complex they are, once you get down to working and talking to them and the toughest guy will want you to open them up and he wants to show you stuff he was afraid to show anybody before." (Source: A&
  • Josh on his father's hellish 1st marriage: "My father is so passive and my mother was so aggressive that it became a joke. He'd be watering the plants kind of glassy-eyed; my mother would be screaming some obscenity about something to someone. It became like a Norman Rockwell gone wrong." (Source: A&
  • James on his wife's car crash: "I think it was she was avoiding a deer. I was surprised, and oh, I was affected. Yeah, I was really ripped up." (Source: A&
  • James, when asked if he'd be interested in dating Barbra Streisand: "I said, 'Ah, I don't need .... I don't need another involvement, you know? But OK, yeah, ah, she's real interesting. I'm going, 'How do I get out of this?' And it was ... I think it's just fear and not knowing whether you want to get involved with anybody or ... and she did exactly the same thing." (Source: A&
  • James: "I spent most of the money I made on phone calls." (Source: A&E
  • James: "Happy 9-11"

Personal life

Brolin resides in Malibu, California, with his wife, Barbra Streisand. He has been married three times.

In 1966, Brolin married Jane Cameron Agee, an aspiring actress at Twentieth Century Fox. The couple had 2 children, Josh (b. 1968), and Jess (b. 1972). They were divorced in 1984, after 18 years of marriage. Jane died in a car accident on February 13, 1995, one day after son Josh's 27th birthday. Josh said on the October 14, 2008, episode of The Late Show with David Letterman that his parents met on Batman, where his mother was a casting executive.

In 1985, Brolin met actress Jan Smithers on the set of Hotel, and they married in 1986. The couple had a daughter, Molly Elizabeth (1987). Jan Smithers filed for divorce from Brolin in 1995, a few weeks after the death of his first wife, Jane.

In 1996, Brolin met the singer and actress Barbra Streisand through a friend, and the two were married on July 1, 1998. He's also the grandfather of Trevor (b. 1988) and Eden (b. 1993), from his son's (Josh) first marriage.


  1. ^ According to the State of California. California Birth Index, 1905-1995. Center for Health Statistics, California Department of Health Services, Sacramento, California. At
  2. ^ James Brolin Biography (1940?-)

External links


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