Handsome, well-built and able to communicate a rangy sort of charm in front of the camera, Dennis Quaid possesses many star qualities. Despite attaining heartthrob status for his work in such films as The Big Easy, however, Quaid has had a difficult time maintaining this status, thanks in part to work in a number of films that have failed to fully exploit his talent.
The son of an electrician and younger brother of actor Randy Quaid, Dennis was born in Houston, Texas on April 9, 1954. He began acting in high school, and in college he enrolled in a drama program. He dropped out at the age of 20 to follow his brother to Hollywood and spent the next year mired in rejection and relative unemployment. He got his first break in 1977 when he was cast in minor roles in I Never Promised You a Rose Garden and 9/30/55, but it was not until 1979, when he starred in the seminal coming-of-age drama Breaking Away, that Quaid gained attention. It was his role as astronaut Gordo Cooper in The Right Stuff four years later that finally gave the actor his Hollywood breakthrough. He subsequently went on to appear in a number of films of widely varying quality. 1987 proved to be a particularly good year for Quaid, as he did acclaimed work in The Big Easy and Suspect. That same year, he also starred in the comedy Innerspace; that experience proved to be an auspicious one, as it provided him with an introduction to co-star Meg Ryan, whom he would marry in 1991. The two also starred together in the 1988 mystery D.O.A. and in the crime drama Flesh and Bone in 1993.