Peter Coyote Biography

Peter Coyote photo

Born: October 10, 1942


Date of Birth: October 10, 1942

Birth Name: Peter Cohon

When Peter Coyote graduated from college in 1964 with a BA in English Literature, he then enrolled at San Francisco State University to pursue a Master's Degree in Creative Writing. During that time, he also studied at the San Francisco Actor's Workshop and soon after he joined the San Francisco Mime Troupe, a radical political street theater group that had been arrested for performing in the city's parks without permits. The guerilla mime group performed their controversial pieces across the country, often getting arrested while touring colleges and universities. Coyote was very involved, not only performing with the troupe, but writing and directing for them as well.

In 1967, he helped form a San Francisco counter culture group called The Diggers, an anarchistic group that supplied free food, free housing and free medical aid to the hordes of runaways who showed up in the city during the Summer of Love. The Diggers evolved into a group known as the Free Family, that went on to establish chains of communes around the Pacific Northwest and Southwest.

In 1975 he cut off his waist-length hair and took a job as a public school drama teacher. In 1978, he decided to give acting a try, and began to perform in plays at San Francisco's Magic Theater. While playing the lead in Sam Shepard's True West, he was spotted by a Hollywood agent who took him on as a client. Coyote soon began to land roles both on TV and in film. His first big role in a major motion picture came with the movie E.T. the Extra Terrestrial (1982), playing the role of the scientist, Keys.

Since then, he has played a range of characters in a variety of films and TV shows, including Erin Brockovich (2000) with Julia Roberts, Random Hearts (1999) with Harrison Ford, and Patch Adams (1998) with Robin Williams. In 2002, he played Mandy Moore's father in A Walk to Remember.

Coyote is also a published author-in 1998, his candid memoir of his years as a cultural drop out, called Sleeping Where I Fall, was released.

Coyote practices Buddhism, is fond of jazz and bluegrass music and speaks French and Spanish. He is also an accomplished voice-over artist, and won an Emmy in 1992 for his narration of an episode of the PBS mini-series The Pacific Century.

Still politically and socially active, Coyote is a board member of Baykeepers, an organization that tracks polluters in the San Francisco Bay and aggressively pursues cessation of damage to the Bay. Coyote lives in Marin County in Northern California and considers himself an avid outdoorsman. He plays guitar and enjoys taking photographs. He has been married three times and has one son and one daughter.

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