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Fame & Fortune
Randy Quaid
Plucked from acting class, first movie made lasting imprint
Celebrity interview

Fame & Fortune: Randy Quaid

Golden Globe winning actor Randy Quaid could be mistaken for just another carefree Texas tourist loping down Rodeo Drive. But behind the boyish grin, there's a 57-year-old film, TV and stage performer who is booked solid for the foreseeable future in films and projects that will take him from coast to coast and across the world. It's a hectic schedule, and Quaid is enjoying every minute of it.

The actor's career has held a steady course, albeit with some bumps along the way. After all, the Houston native has made more than 90 films -- some good, some bad -- in a career that began when director Peter Bogdanovich pulled him out of acting class at the University of Houston to escort Jacy Farrow, the small-town Texan beauty (Cybill Shepherd) to a late-night skinny dipping party in 1971's "The Last Picture Show."

Since then, Bogdanovich has directed Quaid five times. Along the way, the 6'4" actor has built a career on portraying everything from an Amish bowler in "Kingpin" to a crop duster who saves the world in "Independence Day" to President Lyndon B. Johnson, the latter role adding a Golden Globe to his mantle. He also stole the show as the dim-witted Cousin Eddie in National Lampoon's "Vacation" movies.

Though Quaid had distinguished himself as a reliable actor with extreme range, he admits some films were chosen strictly for financial reasons. Yet the prolific actor has enjoyed a string of successful roles lately.

Bankrate: Would you say "The Last Picture Show" was the movie that put you on the show-biz map?

Randy Quaid: Yeah, it got my foot in the door. It was such a surprise that it took off and got such acclaim when it came out. I thought it was going to be one of those drive-in pictures that I would go drink beer and look at. It turned out to be a very powerful movie and a very successful one. It also proved to be a successful one for me, personally. I probably wouldn't be where I am today if not for that movie.

Bankrate: It's almost received cult status.

Randy Quaid: Yeah, it has. It's in black and white and it's the type of movie that mainstream audiences wouldn't go see today, I don't think, because it's not in color. But it does deal with kids growing up in small-town Texas -- that whole culture. It was something very near and dear to me when we were doing it. It was a great way to start off in this business.

Next: "Well, I'm a pretty good actor, I guess."
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