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David Zucker (filmmaker)

David Zucker
Born (1947-10-16) October 16, 1947
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.
Occupation Film director, Film producer, Screenwriter
Years active 1976-present
Spouse(s) Danielle (Ardolino) Zucker (1997–present; 2 children)

David S. Zucker (born October 16, 1947) is an American film director, producer, and screenwriter. He is mostly recognized as the director and writer of the critically successful 1980 film Airplane!. He is also well known as the creator of the The Naked Gun franchise. His films have been characterized with slapstick and satirical parodied comedies. Out of 18 works he is associated with, 2002's Phone Booth is the only non-comedic film.

Associated mostly with parody comedies, Zucker has many fan favorites and box office successes, such as; 1980's Airplane!, 1986's Ruthless People, 1988's The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!, 1991's The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear, and 2003's Scary Movie 3.

Despite cult classics like The Naked Gun series, Ruthless People, BASEketball, and Scary Movie 3, most consider his greatest work to be Airplane!, which has brought on many accolades (including preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress).


  • Personal life 1
  • Career 2
  • Recurring cast members 3
  • Filmography 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Personal life

Zucker was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the son of Charlotte A. (Lefstein) and Burton C. Zucker, who was a real estate developer.[1][2] He graduated from Shorewood High School.[3] Zucker is married to Dr. Danielle (Ardolino) Zucker, with whom he has two children, Charles and Sarah. David was raised Jewish from both parents. David and Danielle married in May 1997.[4] His younger brother, Jerry, is his filmmaking partner. The Zucker brothers have a sister, Susan Breslau.


Zucker's movies include The Kentucky Fried Movie in 1977, The Naked Gun in 1988, The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear in 1991, BASEketball in 1998, Scary Movie 3 in 2003, its sequel Scary Movie 4 in 2006 and An American Carol in 2008.

He co-directed several films including Airplane! in 1980 and Top Secret! in 1984; along with his brother, Jerry, and Jim Abrahams, the trio make up the ZAZ team of directors. He has also worked with Pat Proft (with whom he first teamed up on the Naked Gun show Police Squad!) and Craig Mazin (writer of three of the five Scary Movies).

Looking back on his career in 2009, Leslie Nielsen said the best film he appeared in was The Naked Gun, and that Zucker was his favorite director to work with. Nielsen said of him, "He came to me one time and said, 'Leslie, I'll never make you do anything that is not funny.' And he kept his word."[5]

ZAZ and Proft helped develop the parody genre of films, in which jokes are spit out with rapid-fire, using puns, physical humor, wit, and double entendres. Some of the veteran actors of ZAZ's vision of parody include Leslie Nielsen, Lloyd Bridges, Charlie Sheen, Julie Hagerty, and Anna Faris (Faris starred in four of the Scary Movie series).

In his movies, his mother, Charlotte (March 10, 192 – September 5, 2007) was often cast in a small bit part (like one of the Lucille Ball impersonators in Rat Race, and Vincent Ludwig's secretary, Dominique, in The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!).

Zucker has stated that his dream project is a James Kicklighter from JamesWorks Entertainment and Professor Pauper Productions. Part of his interview is on YouTube.[7]

Recurring cast members

Among all of his directed and/or produced parody films, Zucker had frequently cast the late Leslie Nielsen.

Actor Airplane!
Ruthless People
Naked Gun: From
the Files of
Police Squad!

The Naked Gun
2½: The
Smell of Fear

My Boss'

Scary Movie 3
Scary Movie 4
An American

Anthony Anderson N N
Carmen Electra N N
Anna Faris N N
Regina Hall N N
Kevin Hart N N
George Kennedy N N
Michael Madsen N N
Jenny McCarthy N N
Edward Moss N N N
Leslie Nielsen N N N N N N
Priscilla Presley N N
Bill Pullman N N
Simon Rex N N N
Molly Shannon N N
Charlie Sheen N N
O. J. Simpson N N
Ed Williams N N


Year Film Director Producer Writer
1977 The Kentucky Fried Movie Yes
1980 Airplane! Yes Yes
1984 Top Secret! Yes Yes
1986 Ruthless People Yes
1988 Naked Gun Yes Yes Yes
1991 Naked Gun 2½ Yes Yes
1993 For Goodness Sake Yes
1994 Naked Gun 33⅓ Yes Yes
1996 High School High Yes Yes
1998 BASEketball Yes Yes Yes
2002 Phone Booth Yes
2003 My Boss's Daughter Yes
Scary Movie 3 Yes Yes
2006 Scary Movie 4 Yes
2008 The Onion Movie Yes
Superhero Movie Yes
An American Carol Yes Yes Yes
2013 Scary Movie 5 Yes Yes


  1. ^ David Zucker Biography (1947-)
  2. ^
  3. ^ "25 years and still laughing: 'Airplane!' maintains its cruising altitude with a non-stop zany attitude", Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, June 11, 2005. Accessed September 17, 2007. "The event is in honor of the volunteer service and philanthropy of Louise Abrahams Yaffe and her son Jim Abrahams, who wrote and directed "Airplane!" with fellow Shorewood High School and University of Wisconsin–Madison graduates David and Jerry Zucker."
  4. ^ Stein, Jeannine (August 27, 1997). "Home Weddings Add a Touch of the Heart". Los Angeles Times. 
  5. ^ McEvoy, Colin (March 28, 2009). "Leslie Nielsen here? Surely you jest! MOVIE STAR SITS DOWN with students to kick off DeSales festival. And don't call him Shirley.".  
  6. ^ That Guy: The Legacy of Dub Taylor
  7. ^ Behind the Scenes of "That Guy: The Legacy of Dub Taylor" on YouTube

External links

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