It's not surprising that this commanding actor has played a striking number of athletes. The defensive end on his high-school football team, Haysbert turned down multiple sports scholarships in order to study at the American Academy of Dramatic Art. But he didn't quite leave his past behind. In his very first TV role he was cast as a basketball player on an episode of White Shadow
, and later he appeared in numerous sports-related projects (Love & Basketball
, Grambling's White Tiger, Mr. Baseball
). Throughout the '80s, Haysbert was a constant small-screen presence, racking up guest spots on a diverse array of series, everything from Laverne & Shirley
. He finally segued to features in the 1989 comedy Major League
. But the next year, he proved that he had brains to go with his brawn when he landed his breakthrough role: a single father who falls for a white woman in the '60s period drama Love Field
. In 2001, the journeyman actor suddenly found himself in the spotlight when he signed on to the taut action series 24
as a presidential hopeful who eventually won the White House. The next year, a critically acclaimed (and quite familiar) turn as a single father in love with a white woman in the '50s period piece Far From Heaven
proved he still had big-screen clout. Although he left 24
in its third season, he continued to make guest appearances, and in 2006 he headlined the military drama The Unit
. The series ended in 2009 after four seasons, but Haysbert remains a familiar face thanks to his work as the main spokesperson for Allstate car insurance.Dennis Haysbert Fast Facts:
- Was a defensive end on his high-school football team.
- Graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Art.
- Made TV debut in a 1979 Lou Grant episode; his movie debut was 10 years later in Major League.
- Breakthrough movie was 1992's Love Field, opposite Michelle Pfeiffer.
- Received acclaim for 2002's Far from Heaven, in his role as a gardener to whom a 1950s housewife (Julianne Moore) is attracted; the film was a reworking of 1955 tearjerker All That Heaven Allows.
- David Mamet's series The Unit (2006-2009) is the sixth in which Haysbert was a regular, following 24, Now and Again, Just the Ten of Us, Off the Rack and Code Red.
- Dennis Haysbert Relationships:
- Adam Haysbert - Brother
- Lynn Griffith - Wife
- Al Haysbert - Brother
- Gladys Haysbert - Mother
- Katherine Camille - Daughter
- Stanley Haysbert - Brother
- Rita Haysbert - Sister
- Charles Cameron - Son
- Charles Haysbert Jr. - Brother
- Charles Haysbert Sr. - Father
- Lenier Haysbert - Brother
- Dennis Haysbert Awards:
- 2002 Screen Actors Guild Awards: Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series - Nominee
- 2004 Screen Actors Guild Awards: Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series - Nominee
- 2003 Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television - Nominee
- Attended College of San Mateo, San Mateo, CA