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Richard Stephen Dreyfuss (born October 29, 1947) is an Oscar-winning American actor.
Dreyfuss's acting career began while as a youth at the Beverly Hills Jewish Center. He debuted in the TV production In Mama's House when he was fifteen. He attended the San Fernando Valley State College (later re-named California State University, Northridge) for a year. He was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War and worked in alternate service for two years as a clerk in a Los Angeles hospital. During this time, he acted in a few small TV roles on shows like Peyton Place, Gidget, Bewitched and The Big Valley. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, he also performed on stage on Broadway, off-Broadway, repertory, and improvisational theater.
Dreyfuss's first film part was a small, uncredited role in The Graduate, and in that film he had one line, "Shall I call the cops? I'll call the cops." He was also briefly seen with no dialog as a stage hand in Valley Of The Dolls. He made a strong impression in the subsequent Dillinger and landed a role in the 1973 hit American Graffiti, acting with other future stars like Harrison Ford.
Dreyfuss played his first lead role in the Canadian film The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz. He went on to star in box office hits Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, both directed by Steven Spielberg. For his portrayal of a struggling actor in The Goodbye Girl, he won an Oscar (at age 30), becoming the youngest actor to ever win a Best Actor Award (this record has since been surpassed by Adrien Brody).
Around 1978, Dreyfuss began to use cocaine frequently; his addiction came to a head four years later, when he was arrested for possession of the drug at the scene of a collision between his car and a tree. He entered rehab and made a Hollywood comeback with the film Down And Out In Beverly Hills. In 1995, Dreyfuss was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe for his performance as Glenn Holland in Mr. Holland's Opus. Since then he has continued his career in the movies, television and on stage. In April 2004, he appeared in the revival of Sly Fox on Broadway (opposite Eric Stoltz, René Auberjonois, Bronson Pinchot and Elizabeth Berkley).
In November 2004, he was scheduled to appear in The Producers in London, but withdrew from the production a week before the opening night. The media noted that Dreyfuss was still suffering from problems relating to an operation for a herniated disc in January, and that the part of Max Bialystock in the play is a physically demanding one. His assistant for the production stated that Dreyfuss was accumulating physical injuries that required him to wear physical therapy supports during rehearsals. Nathan Lane was brought in to replace Dreyfuss in the London production.
Dreyfuss has also dabbled with writing, notably teaming up with Harry Turtledove in 1995 to write The Two Georges, a conspiracy thriller set in an alternate reality in which the American colonies remained under British rule (published by Hodder and Stoughton, ISBN 0-340-62826-X).
He appeared as one of the survivors in the 2006 film Poseidon.
Dreyfuss is currently a Senior Associate Member of St. Antony's College, University of Oxford.
He says that according to family tradition, he is either a direct descendant or at least a relative of Alfred Dreyfus. This is disputed by others.
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