Jack Gilford

Birthday: Jul 25, 1908
Birthplace: Not Available
Jack Gilford grew up in a tough section of Brooklyn, where his Rumanian-born mother Sophie supported her family by working as a bootlegger. In 1934, Gilford won an amateur-night contest, launching a career that would span 5 1/2 decades. He often performed in reknowed bohemian New York nightclubs during the 1940s such as Cafe Society, where he was the comedy MC and fronted such acts as long-time friend Zero Mostel, Billie Holiday, and jazz pianist Hazel Scott. His comedy act was highlighted by a rubbery face used for celebrity impressions, not to mention such intangibles as imitating "pea soup coming to a boil" (he could still do that one into his 70s). Gilford toured the nightclub/vaudeville circuit in the company of Milton Berle, Ina Ray Hutton, Jimmy Durante and Elsie Janis, and in 1940 he made his Broadway debut in Meet the People. Four years later, he was featured in his first film, Columbia's Hey Rookie. Gilford's booming career came to an abrupt halt in the early 1950s, when he and his actress wife Madeline Lee were blacklisted for allegedly harboring "leftist" views. While Lee all but disappeared from show business, Gilford was able to make a slow comeback as a character actor in such Broadway plays as The Diary of Anne Frank, Romanoff and Juliet and The Beauty Part. He was best known to TV viewers in the 1960s for his delightful appearances in a series of Cracker Jack commercials. He also guest-starred in sitcoms during that time, including stints on Car 54, Where Are You? and Get Smart.Gilford returned to films in the 1960s, offering side-splitting characterizations in A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum (1966, repeating his Broadway role as Hysterium), Enter Laughing (1967) and They Might Be Giants (1971). In 1973, he received best supporting actor Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for his portrayal of Jack Lemmon's frantic business partner in Save the Tiger. During this second phase of his Hollywood career, Gilford occasionally returned to Broadway in productions ranging from Cabaret to The Sunshine Boys. He also appeared regularly in several TV series, including All in the Family, The David Frost Revue, Friends and Lovers, Apple Pie, Taxi, The Duck Factory, and The Golden Girls. Among his last film roles was melancholy senior citizen Bernie Lefkowitz in the two Cocoon films. In 1976, Jack and Madeline Gifford joined forces with their longtime friends Zero and Kate Mostel to pen their joint autobiography, 170 Years in Show Business. Gilford's son Joe Gilford is a screenwriter.

Highest Rated Movies



33% Cocoon: The Return Bernie Lefkowitz 1988
13% Arthur 2: On the Rocks Super 1988
No Score Yet Young Again Old Man 1986
77% Cocoon Bennie Lefkowitz 1985
No Score Yet Anna to the Infinite Power Dr. Jelliff 1984
No Score Yet Happy Bernie Nelson 1983
24% Caveman Gog 1981
14% Wholly Moses! Tailor 1980
No Score Yet Cheaper to Keep Her Stanley Bracken 1980
No Score Yet Tubby the Tuba Actor 1977
57% Harry and Walter Go to New York Mischa 1976
No Score Yet Everybody Rides the Carousel Actor 1976
83% Save the Tiger Phil Greene 1973
70% They Might Be Giants Wilbur Peabody 1971
81% Catch-22 Dr. 'Doc' Daneeka 1970
57% The Fixer Actor 1968
83% The Incident Sam Beckerman 1967
No Score Yet Who's Minding the Mint? Avery Dugan 1967
55% Enter Laughing Mr. Foreman 1967
84% A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum Hysterium 1966
No Score Yet Mister Buddwing Mr. Schwartz 1966
No Score Yet The Daydreamer Papa Andersen 1966
No Score Yet Hey, Rookie Specialty 1944


No Score Yet Head of the Class
  • 1989
85% Thirtysomething
  • 1988
  • 1987
No Score Yet The Golden Girls
  • 1988
  • 1985
No Score Yet Night Court
  • 1985
No Score Yet Mama's Family
  • 1983
No Score Yet Taxi
Alex's Father Joe Reiger
  • 1981
  • 1979
  • 1978
No Score Yet All in the Family
  • 1976
No Score Yet Rhoda
  • 1976
No Score Yet Get Smart
  • 1969