Quintessential character actor Dustin Hoffman is 79 today. He is most known for his star-making turn as Benjamin Braddock in Mike Nichols’ 1967 classic The Graduate, his gender-bending dual roles as Michael Dorsey/Dorothy Michaels in Tootsie (one of the most celebrated comedies of all time), as well as his Academy Award winning turn as an autistic savant in Rain Man. He began working in 1960, and has been a constant presence ever since.
Hoffman was born on Aug. 8, 1937 in Los Angeles. He originally planned to study classical music or medicine, but he had the calling to be an actor. It has been written that upon telling his family that he wanted to become an actor, his aunt said, “You can’t be an actor. You are not good looking enough.”
He quickly proved them wrong.
Hoffman studied at the Neighborhood Playhouse and the Actor’s Studio in NYC where he roomed with fellow actors Robert Duvall and Gene Hackman. While he has had some notable roles in theater and television, he is more known for his film work.
He also starred in Midnight Cowboy, Little Big Man, Straw Dogs, Papillon, Lenny, Marathon Man, All the President’s Men, Kramer vs. Kramer, Ishtar, Hook, Dick Tracy, Outbreak, Wag the Dog, Meet the Fockers and its sequel Little Fockers. Hoffman made his directorial debut with Quartet in 2012.
He earned his first Oscar in 1980 for his role opposite Meryl Streep in Kramer vs Kramer. He has been nominated and won several Academy Awards, Golden Globes and in 1985 an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor for his role in Death of a Salesman.
In 2012, he received both the AFI Life Achievement Award in 1999 and the Kennedy Center Honors Award.
Hoffman has been married twice and he has two children from his first marriage as well as four from his current marriage to Lisa Gottsegen. He also has two grandchildren.
Happy Birthday Dustin Hoffman!
Please enjoy this video of his notable role in The Graduate: