Judd Hirsch is an award-winning actor, who became popular with the American audience when he starred in the television series “Taxi” (1978-1983) and who became known globally with the movie, “Independence Day,” in 1990, successful at the box-office
Early life and Family
Judd Seymore Hirsch was born on 15 March 1935 in The Bronx of New York City, to Joseph Sidney Hirsch, an electrician, and Sally Kitzis Hirsch. Judd had a German-Jewish paternal grandfather, Benjamin Hirsch, who was born in New York City and a Dutch-Jewish paternal grandmother, Rosa Hirsch, who was born in England. The Judd’s mother was born in Russia to a Jewish family. He has a brother named Roland Hirsch, but no other details about him are disclosed.
Not much information is available about Judd’s early life, except that he grew up in The Bronx and Brooklyn.
He matriculated from the DeWitt Clinton High School in The Bronx in 1952, and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Physics from the City College of New York. He served a tour in the US Army after he graduated, then first worked at the US-based nuclear power company, Westinghouse Electric Company LLC., after which he worked in theater, and studied acting at the HB Studio (Herbert Berghof Studio) in Greenwich Village, New York City, a non-profit organization that offers professional training in the performing arts.
It was unclear if he studied acting because he discovered a passion for it after working in theater, or if he took acting lessons first before working on stage.
Hirsch began his professional acting career reportedly at the age of 27 in theater, and made over a dozen appearances from 1962 to 1973. He was in a couple of movies, although uncredited, that were commercially successful, such as “Jump” and “Evil Knievel” in 1971, and “Serpico” in 1973. He made his television debut in 1974 in the television movie, “The Law.” He was a guest actor for two episodes in the television series “Rhoda” in 1977, and was nominated at the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series.
His first lead role was in 1976, when he was cast as the title character in the 22-episode CBS TV series, “Delvecchio.”
It was his role as Alex Rieger, the main protagonist, in the hit American sitcom “Taxi,” that made him into a star. The series that was originally aired on ABC (1978-1982) then on NBC (1982-1983), and received 31 nominations for Emmys and won 18 of them, three of which were for Outstanding Comedy Series. They also won four Golden Globes out of 25 nominations, and the sitcom is ranked 48th in “TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time.”
Judd received recognition for his acting in “Taxi” by being nominated five consecutive times (1979-1983) at the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, and won two of them in 1981 and 1983. He was also nominated at the Golden Globes for Best Actor in a TV Series-Comedy every year from 1979 to 1983.
Hirsch went on accepting projects for television in lead, supporting and guest roles until 2020. He was the title character in NBC’s “Dear John” for four seasons (1988-1992), not as successful as “Taxi,” but he won a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Television Series in a Comedy in 1989 for this.
He was cast in the crime drama television series, “Numbers,” that ran for six seasons (2005-2010). Judd also appeared as a guest in popular series, such as “The Good Wife,” “The Big Bang Theory,” and “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.” His latest appearance on a TV series was in early 2020 in the Amazon Prime Video Show, “Hunters,” which starred Al Pacino.
One of the movies that he made was the critically acclaimed “Ordinary People,” which was the directorial debut of the actor Robert Redford, released in 1980. He received a Best Supporting Actor nomination from both an Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for his role.
In 2001, he was cast in the Russell Crowe movie, “A Beautiful Mind,” and it earned him a joint nomination from the Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Motion Picture.
Judd has made more than 20 movies, three of which were box-office hits not just in America but also globally, such as the American biographical drama film, “A Beautiful Mind” in 2001, which earned more than $300 million worldwide; the science fiction disaster film, “Independence Day” in 1996, which grossed more than $800 million worldwide; and its sequel “Independence Day: Resurgence” in 2016, which raked in almost $400 million worldwide.
View this post on Instagram
♡ “I was witness to the greatness of a personality that never fully got to flourish. I will never see him play Hamlet, and he would have been one of the great ones. I wanted to see him do the most emotional work out there, and it still pains me that I never will.” ♡ His looks, and his legion of teenage fans, often caused colleagues to underestimate his talent at first. Judd Hirsch played his father in Running on Empty, one of Phoenix’s strongest performances. “When I first saw him, I thought, ‘This is another blond, beautiful kid,’” Hirsch says. “But I quickly realized this was a very, very inside person. River wasn’t just going to give something away. He was running very deep.”— The Washington Post, October 2018 ♡ — Judd Hirsch, who plays Riv’s father in Running on Empty, about him. _________________________ #river #riverjude #riverjudebottom #riverjudephoenix #riverphoenix #juddhirsch #juddseymorehirsch #runningonempty #taxitvshow #80s #90s #1988 #1993 #2018 #magazine #interview #thewashingtonpost #movies #actors #hollywood #grief #nostalgia #nostalgic
It was actually his role in the “Independence Day” franchise as Julius Levinson, the father of Jeff Goldblum’s character, which made him famous with the international audience.
If he was not making movies or television series, he was doing theater work. He appeared in more than five plays from 1976 to 2004. “Knock Knock” was an off-Broadway comedy in 1976 which moved to Broadway after getting positive reviews – he won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play. He received his first Tony Award nomination in 1980 for the Broadway show, “Talley’s Folly,” by the American playwright Lanford Wilson, who won the 1980 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for this work.
His two succeeding Broadway plays, both by Herb Gardner, namely “I’m Not Rappaport” (1985-1988) and “Conversations with My Father” (1992-1993), gave him two Tony Awards for Best Actor in a Play.
Judd Hirsch married Elisa Sadaune in 1963, and they had a son together named Alexander born in 1966, but they were divorced in 1967. After 25 years, he married fashion designer Bonnie Sue Chalkin on 24 December 1992, and had two children with her, namely Montana and London. However, the couple divorced in 2005. Not much else is known about his two marriages and children. Judd is now 85 years old and currently single. He has been living in Catskill Town of Denning in Ulster County, New York for almost 50 years.
Interesting rumors and facts
- On 15 November 2013, an article was published in The New York Times about Judd Hirsch planning to install a 177-foot-tall wind-turbine electric generator that would cost him $132,000 on his 96-acre property in Denning, which some residents opposed. They said that not only would it ruin the beauty of the place, but it would also create noise and disturb the stillness. Hirsch had all this to say about his neighbors, ‘Their fears, in my estimation, are baloney. Behind it, I believe, are the pollution of jealousy and the pollution of stupidity.’ Denning’s Zoning Board of Appeals denied the wind turbine construction in 2014, saying the town codes do not specifically allow it.
- The creator of “Taxi,” James L. Brooks thought of Hirsch, already a Broadway star, when he was writing the character of Alex Rieger. It was said that the studio was reluctant at first to hire Judd because his asking price was too high; conversely, at that time Judd was hesitant to accept the part because he wasn’t that sure that he belonged on television. Obviously everything worked out in the end.
- In an interview, he said that for the “Independence Day” sequel, he improvised at the beginning of the movie because some of the lines weren’t written. Apparently, the director wanted him to be spontaneous in his reaction and lines.
- Judd preferred being an actor on stage than in films and TV. He said, “I’m a stage actor because my heart is in that and all of my energy of being a success would be there. All the challenges of the stage are the life of this actor.”
- On 30 March 2020, Judd Hirsch together with the actors from “Taxi,” including Danny DeVito, Tony Danza, and Christopher Lloyd were guests on “Stars in the House” for The Actors Fund, a national human services organization, to uplift everyone’s spirits as well as to ask for donations for people who are most vulnerable to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Happy 85th Birthday Judd Hirsch!
Born March 15th 1935 (Right Here in Bronx, New York) 🥰 Judd Became One of the Most Talented Actors of the 20th Century.
— 80sThen80sNow (@80sThen80sNow) March 15, 2020
Judd is 6ft (1.83m) tall and weighs around 150lbs (68 kgs). He has dark brown hair and blue eyes.
Net worth and salary
It was reported that aside from his Denning property, he also owns two apartments in the Upper East Side and West Village of New York City. In 2018, he bought a hillside estate in Studio City, California for $1.56 million. Judd Hirsch has a long career in acting, appearing in plays, movies, television series, and made-for-television movies. Although it was not revealed how much he earns as an actor and how many and how much all his properties are worth, sources estimated his net worth at a minimum of $12 million as of early 2020.