Fred Dryer Biography

Football Player, Producer, Athlete, Actor, Television Actor (1946–)
NFL player Fred Dryer played for the New York Giants and the Los Angeles Rams before starting his acting career. He starred on the TV action series Hunter.


Born on July 6, 1946, in Hawthorne, California, Fred Dryer played football for the San Diego State University Aztecs. In 1969 he was drafted with the New York Giants where he played until moving to the Los Angeles Rams in 1972. Dryer retired in 1981 and started his acting career. He’s best known for his title role on the action series Hunter. He now runs a film production company.

Early Life

Actor and athlete Fred Dryer was born John Frederick Dryer on July 6, 1946, in Hawthorne, California to Charles F. Dryer and Genevieve Nell Clark. Dryer's athletic career began at Lawndale High School in Lawndale, California, where he played football and baseball. His father died during Fred Dryer's senior year of high school, and he later said that sports gave him the discipline and sense of family he lost with his father's passing.

After graduation, Dryer spent a year working at a local trophy shop and hanging out on the Southern California beaches. "Then I realized most of my friends were at spring practice while I was at the beach," he later said, "so I figured I'd better go out for football again." He enrolled at El Camino Junior College in Torrance, California, where he was a gridiron standout. He was voted the school's Athlete of the Year in 1966 and named a Junior College All-American.

Fred Dryer transferred to San Diego State University at the beginning of his junior year, playing on the defensive line through two killer seasons with the Aztecs. Among Dryer's teammates was a man named Carl Weathers, a football-player-turned-actor who went on to play Apollo Creed in the Rocky films. The Aztecs won the NCAA College Division (now known as Division II) national championships in both years that Dryer played. He was a leader on the team, lettering both seasons and earning a spot on the 1968 Little All-America Team. Dryer was also voted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1997.

Professional Football Success

Dryer became a first-round NFL draft pick for the New York Giants in 1969, playing three seasons for the team as a defensive end. In 1972, he moved to the Los Angeles Rams, joining a roster that sportswriters deemed the best Rams team of the 1970s. Dyer and his teammates would go down in history as one of the greatest squads never to win a Super Bowl. On October 21, 1973, Dryer became the only player in NFL history to record two safeties in a single game, a move that earned him honors as Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Week. After a long career, Dryer left the NFL in 1981. In 2003, the NFL Alumni honored him with their Career Achievement Award.

Acting Debut

After his departure from professional football, Dryer provided color commentary for network football games and began an acting career. In the early 1980s, Dryer was nearly cast in the role of Sam Malone on the popular sitcom, Cheers. The part went to Ted Danson, but Dryer appeared several times on the series as sportscaster Dave Richards. Dryer is probably best known for his role as Det. Sgt. Rick Hunter on the action series Hunter, in which he co-starred opposite Stepfanie Kramer from 1984 to 1991. He also starred as Mike Land on the series Land's End from 1995 to 1996.

Throughout his Hollywood career, Dryer hung out frequently at the Playboy Mansion. ("He can throw a party, pal," Dryer has said of his friend Hugh Hefner.) From 1983 to 1988 he was married to former Playboy centerfold Tracy Vaccaro, with whom he had one daughter, Caitlin.

Fred Dryer Productions

In the early 1990s, Dryer started his own production company, Fred Dryer Productions, in part to counterbalance what he perceived as the pro-liberal bias of the media industry. "I look at what's being made these days, and it's all convoluted politics," he told an interviewer. "The liberal bathwater coming out of this town has these people's tainted opinions about what is right and wrong & Political Correctness is destroying our culture." In 2006, he formed the film production company Dryer/Padgett Films with his son-in-law, actor Jason Padgett.

Dryer lives in Los Angeles, where he continues to act, produce films, work as a product spokesperson and enjoy the company of two small granddaughters.

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