David Rasche

David Rasche (born August 7, 1944) is an American theater, film and television actor who is best known for his portrayal of the title character in the 1980s satirical police sitcom Sledge Hammer! Since then he has often played characters in positions of authority, in both serious and comical turns.

David Rasche
Born (1944-08-07) August 7, 1944
Alma mater
Years active1977–present
Heather Lupton (m. 1980)

Early life

Rasche (/ˈræʃi/)[1] was born in Belleville, Illinois (less than 20 mi (32 km) from St. Louis, Missouri[2]). His father was a minister and farmer.[3]

Rasche graduated from Elmhurst College in 1966; his grandfather was also an alumnus.[3] Coming from "a long line of Evangelical and United Church of Christ ministers", he attended the University of Chicago Divinity School for two years, then quit. He did, however, receive a graduate degree in English from University of Chicago.[4]

He studied acting under Sanford Meisner.[4]


Early years

He worked as a writer and teacher, including teaching English for two years at Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota.[4][3] He performed for two years in Chicago's Second City improvisation group after studying there, and he also helped found Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago,[3] investing $1,000.

After Second City, he starred in the Organic Theater's 1974 production of David Mamet's Sexual Perversity in Chicago, which established the playwright's characteristic blend of earthy, sometimes brutal dialogue.[4]

He began appearing on television and films in 1977, making his film debut in 1978 in An Unmarried Woman, directed by Paul Mazursky. The following year, he had a small part in Woody Allen's Manhattan.

He played a terrorist in the 1983 television film Special Bulletin. He appeared on the Miami Vice episode "Bushido" (first aired November 22, 1985) as a KGB agent attempting to capture a former colleague of Lt. Castillo (Edward James Olmos). During his subsequent starring role on Sledge Hammer! his character often made jokes about Miami Vice.

Rasche played Petruchio to Frances Conroy's Kate in a production of Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew directed by Zoe Caldwell at the American Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford, Connecticut in the mid-1980s.

Sledge Hammer!

Rasche is best known for his portrayal of the title character in the satirical television sitcom Sledge Hammer!, which ran from 1986 to 1988. The show was a spoof of police dramas and concerned the character Sledge Hammer, a violent and chauvinistic police inspector with a taste for large and powerful weaponry.

Later work

Rasche had a minor role as a photographer in the movie Cobra alongside Brigitte Nielsen.

Shortly after Sledge Hammer! ended, he played to critical acclaim in the Broadway production of Mamet's Speed-the-Plow, and he later appeared in an Off-Broadway revival of Mamet's Edmond.

Rasche was lead character Buddy Wheeler in the 1990 Biker Comedy Masters of Menace.

Rasche played the role of Ted Forstmann in the 1993 made-for-television movie Barbarians at the Gate, about the leveraged buyout (LBO) of RJR Nabisco.

Rasche had a leading role in the 1997 Columbo episode, "A Trace of Murder."

In addition to his work as a screen actor, Rasche can also be heard as Captain Piett in the NPR radio adaptation of The Empire Strikes Back.

He portrayed Donald Greene, one of the passengers of United Airlines Flight 93, in Paul Greengrass' 2006 9/11 film United 93.

He had a major role in the 2009 satirical political comedy In the Loop, as a US official pushing for an invasion of an unspecified Middle Eastern country.

Other film roles include:

Starting February 14, 2017 he played George Antrobus in Theatre for a New Audience's production of Thornton Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth, opposite Kecia Lewis as Maggie Antrobus.[6]

Personal life

Rasche met his future wife Heather Lupton after he moved to New York City in 1976.[4] She has taught acting at University of California, Santa Barbara.[4] Lupton made a guest appearance in the series Sledge Hammer as Hammer's ex-wife.[3] They have three children.[4]




1986-1988, Sledge Hammer! as inspector Sledge Hammer (41 episodes)

Rasche appeared in the TV Land series Impastor in the role of Alden Schmidt. Rasche appeared on the short-lived 2001 television series DAG as President Whitman, the President of the United States.

Rasche joined the cast of Ugly Betty in its third season in 2009 as the wealthy father of Matt Hartley, Betty's love interest. He appeared in the final five episodes of season three, and remained in the cast until mid-season four when his character's arc ended.

Other television appearances include:

  • AMC's Rubicon in the role of James Wheeler.
  • Las Vegas in 2004 as a Film director where Jean-Claude Van Damme dies when he is filming a dangerous stunt
  • All My Children in 2008, in the role of Robert Gardner.
  • Bored to Death, in the role of Bernard, the boyfriend of Ted Danson's character's daughter.
  • He appeared on the May 11, 2012 episode of Primetime: What Would You Do?, when he inadvertently walked into the scene the producers and actors were putting on, where an employee dropped a customer's package and broke what was in it. David chose not to tell on the employee, and played along, saying, "I didn't hear anything."
  • Black Box, in the role of Hunter Black
  • Veep, where he plays Speaker of the House of Representatives Jim Marwood
  • Succession, in the role of Karl


  1. "Say How?". National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. Library of Congress. Retrieved 24 July 2018.
  2. "St. Louis, MO to Belleville, IL". Google Maps. Retrieved March 16, 2017.
  3. Shin, Laura. "David Rasche '66, star of stage, screen and sit-com, is a celebrated 'smart performer'". Prospect Magazine. Elmhurst College. Archived from the original on February 2, 2017. Retrieved January 29, 2017.
  4. Smith, Dinitia (October 15, 1996). "Figuring Out How to Feel Like a Man With Mamet". The New York Times.
  5. "Amira & Sam Cast". Amira & Sam. Retrieved February 11, 2015.
  6. Clement, Olivia (2017-02-14). "The Skin of Our Teeth, with Kecia Lewis, Begins at TFANA". Playbill. Retrieved 2017-03-04.
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