Dennis and Randy Quaid
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They’re not exactly Texas’ Barrymores, but the Quaid brothers certainly reign as the state’s best-known acting siblings. Randy is a character actor and comedian; Dennis is an action hero and leading man. Together they have racked up 57 years of experience in more than 120 productions, including blockbusters like The Right Stuff (Dennis) and Independence Day (Randy); favorites like The Big Easy (arguably Dennis’ finest turn); and classics like The Last Picture Show (Randy, as the Charlene-groping Lester Marlow). Randy was born on October 1, 1950, in Houston; Dennis arrived April 9, 1954. Their mother was a realtor, their father an electrician.
While still a teenager, Randy snagged a bit part in Peter Bogdanovich’s film Targets (1968). The director later cast him in The Last Picture Show (1971), prompting Randy to drop out of the University of Houston and move to California. Two years later he was an Oscar nominee for his role as the unlucky sailor in The Last Detail (1973). He also earned Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for his star turn in the TV miniseries LBJ: The Early Years (1987).
Randy’s success piqued the interest of Dennis, a fellow drama major who also decided to drop out of U of H. After small roles in half a dozen forgettable films, he got noticed as a tough townie in the biking flick Breaking Away (1979), then achieved true celebrity with his portrayal of astronaut Gordon Cooper in The Right Stuff (1983).
The Quaids have appeared together in only one movie, The Long Riders (1980), in which they played real-life outlaw brothers Ed and Clell Miller. But they starred Off-Broadway in Sam Shepard’s play True West in 1984.
Dennis never shies away from physically challenging roles. He broke his collarbone while filming the football movie Everybody’s All-American (1988) and lost 42 pounds to play the ailing Doc Holliday in Wyatt Earp (1994).
Randy is married to director Evi Quaid. Dennis is married to actress Meg Ryan; their romance began during the making of D.O.A. (1988) in Austin.
Currently fans can see Dennis in the fantasy thriller Frequency and hear Randy as the narrator of the George Wallace documentary Settin’ the Woods on Fire and the voice of the animated Colonel Sanders in KFC commercials.