Jerry Zucker

Jerry G. Zucker (born March 11, 1950) is an American film producer, director, and writer known for his role in directing comedy spoof films such as Airplane! and Top Secret!, and the Best Picture-nominated supernatural drama film Ghost.[1]

Jerry Zucker
Zucker on November 4, 2006
Born (1950-03-11) March 11, 1950
Janet Krausz (m. 1987)
FamilyDavid Zucker (brother)

Jerry Zucker and his older brother, David Zucker, collaborated on several films.

Life and career

Zucker was born to a Jewish family[2] in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the son of Charlotte A. (Lefstein) (d. 2007) and Burton C. Zucker, who was a real estate developer.[3][4] He graduated from Shorewood High School.[5]

Zucker's early career work started with Jim Abrahams and brother David Zucker. The trio performed in Madison, Wisconsin as a sketch and comedy troupe called "Kentucky Fried Theater". From there the three went on and together co-directed Airplane! in 1980 and then went on to do Top Secret! in 1984, and Ruthless People in 1986. In 1990, he lent his directorial skills to the dramatic genre with Ghost, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture. Recent directorial efforts of Zucker's include the 2001 film Rat Race.

Zucker's films have been ranked among the greatest comedies of all time: Airplane! was ranked at the top of Entertainment Weekly's list of best comedy films and AFI listed it as #10; Top Secret! made Entertainment Weekly's Top 100 list.[6]

Like his brother David Zucker, Jerry often cast his mother, Charlotte (who died in 2007), and his sister, Susan Breslau, in small roles in his films. Along with Jim Abrahams, the Zuckers constitute the "ZAZ" team of directors.



Year Title Director Producer Writer Actor Role
1977 The Kentucky Fried Movie No No Yes Yes Technician #3 / Man / Beaver / Hands
1980 Airplane! Yes Executive Yes Yes Ground Crewman #1
1984 Top Secret! Yes Executive Yes Yes German Soldier
1986 Ruthless People Yes No No No
1988 The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! No Executive Yes No
1990 Ghost Yes No No No
1991 The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear No Executive No No
1992 Brain Donors No Executive No No
1993 My Life No Yes No No
1994 Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final Insult No Executive No No
1995 Your Studio and You (short) No No No Yes Himself
A Walk in the Clouds No Yes No No
First Knight Yes Yes No No
1997 My Best Friend's Wedding No Yes No No
2001 Rat Race Yes Yes No No
2002 Unconditional Love No Yes No No
2010 Fair Game No Yes No No
2011 Friends with Benefits No Yes No No
2012 Mental No Yes No No
2014 Asthma No No No Yes Gus' Father

Also second unit director in Rock 'n' Roll High School (1979).


Year Title Director Producer Writer Actor Role Notes
1972 The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson No No No Yes Performer TV Series; part as Kentucky Fried Theatre in one episode
1974 The Midnight Special No No No Yes Performer TV Series; part as Kentucky Fried Theatre in one episode
1982 Police Squad! Yes Executive Yes No Creator TV Series, 6 episodes (director and writer pilot)
1987 Our Planet Tonight No Executive No No TV Movie
2013 Dear Dumb Diary No Executive No No TV Movie
2019 Late Night Berlin No Creative No No Episode 'Folge 42'


  1. "Jerry Zucker-Biography". Yahoo! Movies.
  2. Desser, David; Friedman, Lester D. American Jewish Filmmakers. p. 166. ISBN 9780252071539.
  3. David Zucker Biography (1947-)
  5. "25 years and still laughing: 'Airplane!' maintains its cruising altitude with a non-stop zany attitude" Archived 2008-04-30 at the Wayback Machine, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, June 11, 2005. Accessed September 17, 2007. "The event is in honor of the volunteer service and philanthropy of Louise Abrahams Yaffe and her son Jim Abrahams, who wrote and directed "Airplane!" with fellow Shorewood High School and University of Wisconsin–Madison graduates David and Jerry Zucker."
  6. Kaltenbach, Chris (August 22, 2001). "Jerry Zucker Still Flies High on 'Airplane!'". Los Angeles Times.
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