Jim Abrahams

Highest Rated: 97% Airplane! (1980)
Lowest Rated: 14% Mafia! (1998)
Birthday: May 10, 1944
Birthplace: Shorewood, Wisconsin, USA
In collaboration with longtime partners David and Jerry Zucker, producer/director Jim Abrahams has created some of the funniest send-ups of the '70s and '80s, most notably Airplane!, Ruthless People, and Naked Gun. Boyhood friends from Milwaukee where their fathers ran a real-estate business together, the three pals developed a passion for making fun of movies and television shows. Shortly after graduating from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, the three teamed up to found the Kentucky Fried Theater and with it produced a popular multimedia comedy show that blended improvised sketches with short films. In time, they moved the troupe to L.A. Their first Los Angeles production ran for two years. In conjunction with director John Landis, Abrahams and the Zuckers made their satirical parody of modern culture, The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977). During production, the three carefully watched Landis at work and decided that directing looked easy enough that they too could become directors. Their first solo effort as a team was Airplane!, a lowbrow but hilarious and highly successful takeoff of the Airport series of disaster films. Like many of their subsequent parodies, it is distinguished for its ghastly puns, running gags, and use of good-natured second-string actors who seem to relish the opportunity to make fun of themselves and the roles they played. Leslie Nielsen, who was once known as a dramatic actor, gained a whole new career from his role in the film and went on to staff several more of their projects including their short-lived but riotous television series Police Squad! (1982). Their next movie parody, Top Secret! (1984), took on spy movies, but it was not as successful at the box office as Airplane! In 1986, they had better success with Ruthless People, a more traditional comedy starring Danny DeVito and Bette Midler. In 1988, Abrahams broke away from the Zuckers to make Big Business, a more conventional comedy starring Bette Midler and Lily Tomlin. Abrahams has occasionally dabbled in drama in films such as Welcome Home Roxy Carmichael (1990) to mixed reviews. In 1997, his dramatic television movie First Do No Harm brought Meryl Streep back to the medium after a nearly 20-year absence.

Highest Rated Movies



14% Mafia! Director 1998
No Score Yet Jamás Causaré Daño Executive Producer Director Producer 1997
54% The Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult Executive Producer 1994
57% Hot Shots! Part Deux Director Screenwriter 1993
83% Hot Shots! Director Screenwriter 1991
57% The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear Executive Producer 1991
44% Welcome Home Roxy Carmichael Director 1990
72% Cry-Baby Executive Producer 1990
87% The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! Executive Producer 1988
67% Coming to America Face on Cutting-room Floor 1988
40% Big Business Director 1988
94% Ruthless People Director 1986
77% Top Secret! Producer Executive Producer Director Screenwriter 1984
97% Airplane! Director Screenwriter Executive Producer Religious Zealot #6 1980
80% The Kentucky Fried Movie Various Roles Screenwriter 1977


100% Police Squad!
Creator Director
  • 1982


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