Jerry Bruckheimer, the son of German-Jewish immigrants who arrived in America in the 1920's, grew up in Detroit, Michigan, where he started dreaming of the world of filmmaking as a young boy, spending many of his afternoons at the local multiplex. The movies were a welcome escape from the modest existence of the working class and Bruckheimer gives some credit to the experience of being poor for his drive to succeed. He attended the University of Arizona where he graduated with a degree in psychology. His college roommate, Don Simpson, would later be his partner in his first production company. His nuts and bolts experience with filmmaking began in Detroit where he was involved in production on The Culpepper Cattle Co., but it was not until teaming up with Don Simpson in 1983 when they produced Flashdance that the two received notice.

Flashdance was the story of a female steelworker who dreams of fame and fortune as a dancer. It was an unexpected hit and set trends in the 80's. We can thank Flashdance for leg warmers and ripped, inside-out sweatshirts as well as the indelible, over-played image of Jennifer Beals dumping a bucket of water on herself in her "Maniac" routine.

His next big hit, Beverly Hills Cop, the story of a street-wise, black cop from Detroit, again gives us a look at an apparent underdog who outsmarts the more privileged class to emerge as the hero. Bruckheimer feels that a triumph of the spirit over seemingly insurmountable odds is the message he conveys in his films. His next blockbuster, Top Gun, carries the same theme as Tom Cruise plays an ace pilot who is considered an outsider until he wins the day at the end of the film. A diminutive, slight of build man himself, Bruckheimer sees his personal struggle in these characters. Despite his Hollywood successes, he admits that the fear of failure dogs his steps. His own partner succumbed to the lure of drugs and an outrageous lifestyle, leading to the dissolution of their production company in 1995. A month later, Don Simpson was found dead in his home from a drug overdose. This seeming setback didn't cause Jerry Bruckheimer to skip a beat. On the contrary, he garnered larger studio budgets than ever and his projects continued to glorify the human experience through bloated budget action films. If barely outrunning huge fireballs, a la' Con Air, Armageddon, The Rock, Enemy of the State and Pearl Harbor happens to be the most entertaining and lucrative way to depict a triumph of the spirit, Bruckheimer is ok with that.

Indeed, Bruckheimer received a good bit of criticism for Pearl Harbor for not being exactly "factual", but he dismisses the idea that a historical movie get the facts right to tell a story. He merely meant for the bombs and explosions as a backdrop for an uplifting story about Ben Affleck's character saving everybody from the Japanese. About Pearl Harbor, Bruckheimer says, "You've got to be true to a period of history without making it a documentary. A documentary of Pearl Harbor would take about nine hours and no one would like that except maybe my mother." If you don't agree with that assessment, you can always rent Tora! Tora! Tora!.

Due to the box office success of Pearl Harbor and Black Hawk Down, Bruckheimer has become the unofficial documentarian of the war on terrorism. His current project, titled Profiles from the Front Line is described as a "reality soap" about U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. With the full cooperation of the military as well as personal endorsements from Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, Bruckheimer hopes to give America a more personal look behind the efforts of the military with a feel-good attitude. To criticism that the defense department has enlisted him and the Hollywood spotlight to create a propaganda piece to promote enlistment and popular support for war, Bruckheimer responds that he is simply making a patriotic show designed to inform and entertain.

Whatever the opinion of Jerry Bruckheimer's movies, the man is undeniably successful in the business with his credit on 34 films and total personal revenues of over $11 billion. When accused of merely making money instead of art, Jerry Bruckheimer responds, "Thanks for reminding me, but I get great reviews from Bank of America."

Filmography:

  • The Culpepper Cattle Co.(1972)
  • Match or Die(1977)
  • Farewell My Lovely(1975)
  • American Gigolo(1980)
  • Defiance(1980)
  • Thief(1981)
  • Young Doctors in Love(1982)
  • Cat People(1982)
  • FlashDance(1983)
  • Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
  • Thief of Hearts (1984)
  • Top Gun(1986)
  • Beverly Hills Cop II (1987)
  • Days of Thunder(1990)
  • The Ref(1994)
  • Bad Boys(1995)
  • Crimson Tide(1995)
  • Dangerous Minds(1995)
  • The Rock (1996)
  • Con-Air(1997)
  • Enemy of the State (1998)
  • Armageddon (1998)
  • Remember the Titans (2000)
  • Coyote Ugly (2000)
  • Gone in 60 Seconds (2000)
  • Pearl Harbor (2001)
  • Bad Company (2002)
  • Black Hawk Down(2002)
  • Veronica Guerin (2003)
  • Kangaroo Jack (2003)
  • Bad Boys 2(2003)
  • The Pirates of the Caribbean(2003)

Television Credits:

  • Soldier of Fortune, Inc. (1997)
  • Max Q (1998)
  • Swing Vote (1999)
  • C.S.I. (2000)
  • The Amazing Race (2001)
  • The Amazing Race 2 (2002)
  • Without a Trace (2002)
  • Profiles From the Front Line (2002)

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