The Eighties Club
The Politics and Pop Culture of the 1980s
Stars of the '80s
Richard Gere
Richard Tiffany Gere was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on 31 August 1949, the second of five children. He showed real musical talent early in life, mastering several instruments and writing music for high school productions. After graduating from North Syracuse Central High School, he spent two years at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he was a philosophy major attending on a gymnastics scholarship. It was at college that he began acting, and after leaving the university he performed at the Provincetown Playhouse and the Seattle Repertory Theater. Graduating to Broadway, he appeared in the rock opera Soon and earned rave reviews for his performances as "Danny" in Grease. Gere spent a season with London's Young Vic Company, a rare opportunity for an American actor. He made his motion picture debut with a small role in 1974's Report to the Commissioner and went on to appear in Days of Heaven, Looking for Mister Goodbar and Yanks before achieving star status with American Gigolo (1980). Instead of staying in Hollywood to build on this success, Gere returned to Broadway to appear in Bent, an award-winning performance as a homosexual prisoner at Dachau. He became one of the Eighties' leading men with 1982's An Officer and A Gentleman. Though he appeared in numerous other films during the 1980s, he was not able to duplicate the success he'd enjoyed with An Officer and A Gentleman until he starred in 1990's Pretty Woman with Julia Roberts. The Nineties saw Gere in such movies as First Knight, Red Corner, The Jackal and the blockbuster sequel to Pretty Woman, Runaway Bride (1999).
During the 1980s, a politically active Gere visited Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador, and was generally critical of the Reagan administration's policies in Central America. He is a founding member of Tibet House, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving Tibetan culture, and has long been an admirer of the Dalai Lama and supporter of a Tibet free from Chinese occupation. Gere has also been active in Survivor International, an organization which supports the rights of tribal peoples in Africa, South America and elsewhere.
In 1991, Gere married supermodel Cindy Crawford; they were divorced in 1995. Gere then began dating actress Carey Lowell. They have a son, Homer James Jigme Gere, born in February 2000. He was named one of People Magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People in 1991, and People's Sexiest Man Alive in 1999. He was one of the twelve Promising New Actors of 1977 in Volume 29 of John Willis' Screen World.

1980s Filmography
American Gigolo (1980)
An Officer and A Gentleman (1982)
Breathless (1983)
The Honorary Consul (1983)
The Cotton Club (1984)
King David (1985)
No Mercy (1986)
Power (1986)
Miles From Home (1988)



Critics' Comments
American Gigolo (1980)
"The heretofore gifted Gere, who took over the role when John Travolta dropped out, seems unable to act his way out of a Vuitton bag this time, but it is not crucial -- he looks spectacular."
 -- People Magazine

Breathless (1983)
"Though this is not one of Gere's lazy American Gigolo performances, he is less successful than his co-star. While he perfectly captures the jazzy, pretty-boy surface of his amoral character, he can't cut deeper."
-- People Magazine

No Mercy (1986)
"Gere suffers by comparison with the uniformly fine supporting cast (including Gary Basaraba and the remarkable William Atherton), contributing his usual preening to the unlikely role of a tough guy."
-- Paul Attanasio, Washington Post

Power (1986)
"In Power, the obvious question is, how well does Richard Gere play a political professional? Gere is a good actor - he has demonstrated that time and again - but there is something about his smoothness, his good looks, his occasional narcissism, that alerts audiences to look for chinks in his performances. I would have preferred an older, gritter, wearier character in the Pete St. John role - maybe Hackman. But I found myself accepting Gere in this unlikely role, and I reflected that he, like Nick Nolte, will only get better in the movies as he gets older and as some of the youthful glamor fades. He is good enough that his worst enemy is our image of him."
 -- Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

Miles From Home (1988)
"Gere is the movie's Hollow Man. His standard reaction to disturbing news is to blink in disbelief and shake his locks, as if he were a doggie shimmying the water off his extra-shiny coat."
 -- Hal Hinson, Washington Post


Richard Gere with Valerie Kaprisky in a scene from Breathless.


Gere turned down the lead in the film Die Hard -- a role that then went to Bruce Willis.
Gere was banned for a time from appearing at the Academy Award ceremonies after making anti-China remarks at the 1993 Oscars.
Gere has been nominated for two Best Actor Golden Globes, the first time for An Officer and A Gentleman and then for Pretty Woman.