Actor James Broderick

James Joseph Broderick III (March 7, 1927 – November 1, 1982) was an American actor and director. He is known for his role as Doug Lawrence in the television series Family, which ran from 1976 to 1980, and he played a pivotal role in the 1975 film Dog Day Afternoon.

Life and career

Broderick was born in Charlestown, New Hampshire, the son of Mary Elizabeth (née Martindale) (1896–1986) and James Joseph Broderick II (or Jr.) (1895–1959). He was raised Catholic. His father, a highly decorated World War I combatant, was of Irish descent, and his mother was of English and Irish ancestry.

Broderick attended Manchester Central High School and then took pre-medical courses at the University of New Hampshire for two years. He joined the Navy in 1945, becoming a pharmacist mate.

In 1947, after having served in the armed forces in World War II, Broderick, a junior pre-med student, auditioned for a part in the University of New Hampshire production of George Bernard Shaw’s Arms and the Man. Faculty advisor to the student drama club, Mask and Dagger, (and director) J. “Joe” Donald Batcheller was impressed and gave him the role of Bluntschli, an anti-romantic Swiss soldier. Batcheller said, “You could tell from the beginning that he was an exceptional individual. He displayed an unusual ability to get along with people. He was kind, sensitive, imaginative, and had a good sense of humor. He also had an Irish mug if I ever saw one.”

Although Batcheller did not often encourage the students to pursue acting as a career, he was so sure of Broderick’s talent that he suggested a trip to New York to meet Batcheller’s friend Arthur Kennedy, who was well known in the acting field. Broderick took his advice and Kennedy subsequently directed him to the Neighborhood Playhouse, where he gained the necessary experience and training for a successful acting career in both films and television.

Broderick’s Broadway credits include The Time of Your Life (1969) and Johnny No-Trump (1967).

Broderick co-starred in the CBS television series Brenner, portraying Officer Ernie Brenner. He played the father on the television show Family from 1976 to 1980,Broderick also served as director for the series.:324 receiving an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series in 1978. Other notable television appearances included the Twilight Zone episode “On Thursday We Leave for Home” and the public television productions of Jean Shepherd’s The Phantom of the Open Hearth and The Great American Fourth of July and Other Disasters, where he played Ralph Parker’s father, “the Old Man,” a role later played by Darren McGavin in A Christmas Story. He also appeared in the “Doctors Wife” episode of Gunsmoke in 1964, as well as a year prior in a very dark Gunsmoke episode, “My Sister’s Keeper” (S9E6) where he plays “Pete”, a widower still shaken by the loss, who innocently becomes the infatuation of a younger sister and the eventual enemy of her over protective & psychotic older sister.

His notable film roles include Ray Brock, the complex father figure of a New England commune in Alice’s Restaurant (1969), the subway motorman in The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974), FBI agent Sheldon in Dog Day Afternoon (1975), and Joe in the Paul Newman directed version of The Shadow Box (1980).

Personal life

Broderick was married until his death to playwright and painter Patricia Broderick. The couple had one son, actor Matthew Broderick, and two daughters. Broderick died of cancer on November 1, 1982, and was cremated.


Year Title Role Notes
1960 The Iceman Cometh Willie Oban TV play
1960 Girl of the Night Dan Bolton
1964 Gunsmoke Dr. Wesley May, Pete Sievers Episode: “Doctors Wife”
1966 The Group Dr. Ridgeley
1969 The Tree Det. McCarthy
1969 Alice’s Restaurant Ray Brock
1971 The Todd Killings Sam Goodwin
1974 The Taking of Pelham One Two Three Denny Doyle – Train Driver
1975 Dog Day Afternoon FBI Agent Sheldon
1980 The Shadow Box Joe

External Links

Actor James Broderick – Wikipedia

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