Jerry Zucker biography

Rat Race Director

Jerry Zucker

Date of Birth: March 11, 1950

Raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Jerry and his older brother David were raised by their mother, actress Charlotte Zucker.

Along with his brother and their childhood friend, Jim Abrahams, the trio joined forces and combined their comical talents to create some of the funniest comedies of the '80s.

The three attended the University of Wisconsin, where they founded the Kentucky Fried Theatre comedy troupe.

Renting space at the back of a Madison bookstore, the show specialized in live improvisational skits interspersed with videotaped and filmed routines and sketches. The three wrote and appeared in most of the sketches.

With the success of this group, the three used their newfound fame to develop the feature film Kentucky Fried Movie in 1978. After writing and producing the successful film, the three got down to work on their next project, Airplane! The movie was a parody of every airplane disaster movie ever made, and the three wanted to have more control and direct.

They were granted the power and the film became the sleeper hit of the 1980s, garnering them a number of awards including a Writers Guild of America award and a BAFTA nomination for Best Screenplay.

With their new production company, ZAZ productions, they took a stab at television, developing a series called Police Squad. Although viewers loved the show, the trio and the studio didn't get along and the show was cancelled early on in its run.

Years later, they came out with another comic hit, Top Secret! With yet another hit film under their collective belts, it seemed the three could do no wrong.

Unfortunately in 1986, this all changed with the release of their third film, Ruthless People, which did dismally at the box office compared to its predecessors.

Although they backed away from directing for a time, they got back on track by producing hit comedies like Naked Gun and Hot Shots .

In 1990, Jerry decide to go back to directing on his own. Instead of comedies, he moved to a more dramatic genre when he directed Ghost . The film was a winner with both viewers and critics.

It garnered Oscars, BAFTA and Golden Globe awards as well as nominations for his cast and crew, and awards from festivals around the world.

His next project alone, First Knight, was not so well received, leaving most fans of the Arthur legend disappointed with the film.

For the start of the new millennium, Jerry decided to return to the comedy genre and released Rat Race with an all-star cast.

Jerry Zucker Filmography


  • Unconditional Love (2002)
  • Who Shot Victor Fox (2002)
  • Rat Race (2001)
  • Imaging Nathan (1999)
  • My Best Friend's Wedding (1997)
  • A Walk in the Clouds (1995)
  • First Knight (1995)
  • Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult (1994)
  • My Life (1993)
  • The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear (1991)
  • The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (1988)
  • Top Secret! (1984)



  • Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult (1994)
  • The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear (1991)
  • The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (1988)
  • Top Secret! (1984)
  • The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977)

Rat Race

Genre:  Comedy
Running Time:  112 min.
Release Date: August 17, 2001

Current rating: Rating: 4.35
based on 981 votes and 39 reviews
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Cast: Kathy Bates, Seth Green, Breckin Meyer, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Whoopi Goldberg, John Cleese, Jon Lovitz, Wayne Knight, Amy Smart, Dave Thomas, Dean Cain, Rowan Atkinson, Vince Vieluf, Kathy Najimy, Paul Rodriguez, Lanai Chapman