Actor Paul Gleason, best known as Principal Richard Vernon in The Breakfast Club, died Saturday from a rare form of lung cancer. He was 67 years old.
Gleason had started out as an athlete. He played football for Florida State University. After he graduated he played minor league baseball. When it came to acting, Gleason studied at the Actors Studio under the legendary Lee Strasberg. He made his first appearance on film in 1965 in a bit part in Winter A Go-Go. His first appearance on television was a guest appearance on The Green Hornet. Gleason would go on to appear in such films as Doc Savage: the Man of Bronze, Arthur, Die Hard, and Trading Places. He made guest appearances on such series as Mission: Impossible, Adam 12, Beauty and the Beast, Seinfeld, amd NewsRadio. He played Dr. David Thornton on All My Children from 1976 to 1978.
Most people probably remember him as the principal from The Breakfast Club. Never having cared for that movie, I prefer to remember Gleason as Maj. Thomas J. 'Long Tom' Roberts from Doc Savage: the Man of Bronze and from his many guest appearances. While Gleason played a good many jerks in his films, he was a talented character actor capable of playing many different roles. The abrasive deputy chief of police from Die Hard is an example of one of the many jerks he played, but he also played Long Tom from Doc Savage: the Man of Bronze, the dour electrical engineer among Doc's cohorts. In many ways it is sad that he was typecast in roles similar to those that he played in The Breakfast Club and Die Hard, as he was capable of much more.