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Dennis Quaid is an actor known for a wide variety of films, from Breaking Away to Dreamscape to Postcards from the Edge.
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After his breakout role in 1979’s Breaking Away, Dennis Quaid never looked back, starring in a wide variety of films ranging from huge hits (1983’s The Right Stuff) to disappointments (1983’s Jaws 3-D). Quaid found renewed success in the 1990s with such films as Any Given Sunday, Frequency and Far from Heaven, for which he was named Best Supporting Actor by the New York Film Critics Circle.
Dennis William Quaid was born on April 9, 1954, in Houston, Texas. After following in the footsteps of his older brother Randy (also an accomplished actor) to the University of Houston, Quaid dropped out in 1974 and moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. He landed a bit role in Jonathan Demme's Crazy Mama (1975), but made his first substantial big-screen appearance in the 1978 film September 30, 1955. Quaid's breakthrough role came in the acclaimed film Breaking Away (1979), which won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.
Over the next few years, Quaid appeared in the 1980 Western The Long Riders with his brother Randy and in the romantic comedy All Night Long (1981), costarring Gene Hackman and Barbra Streisand. After starring in a few low-rated films like The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia (1981) and Jaws 3-D (1983), he won acclaim for his portrayal of the cocky astronaut Gordon Cooper in The Right Stuff, the 1983 film version of Tom Wolfe's best-selling book, costarring Sam Shepard and Ed Harris.
In 1987, Quaid's career heated up with his romantic turn as a New Orleans homicide detective who becomes involved witha district attorney (played by Ellen Barkin) in The Big Easy. That same year, he starred opposite Cher in the thriller Suspect. On the set of the screwball comedy Innerspace (1987), Quaid met actress Meg Ryan; the two fell in love while filming their next movie, the thriller D.O.A. (1988), and became engaged in 1989. (Quaid was previously married to another actress, P.J. Soles, from 1978 to 1983.)
Before Ryan would marry him, however, she forced him to come to terms with his struggles with alcohol and cocaine. After his high-profile film Great Balls of Fire! (1989), in which he played the temperamental rock great Jerry Lee Lewis, tanked with both critics and audiences, Quaid resolved to kick his addictions. In 1990, he quit drinking and drugs for good, and he and Ryan were married a year later.
After a supporting turn opposite Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine in Postcards from the Edge (1990), Quaid took a self-imposed hiatus from filmmaking, returning in 1993 with a starring role alongside Ryan in Flesh and Bone, also featuring James Caan and Gwyneth Paltrow. He lost 42 pounds in preparation for his acclaimed performance in Wyatt Earp (1994), in which he played Doc Holliday, the tubercular sidekick of the titular lawman and hero of the Old West (played by Kevin Costner).
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