John Goodman PROFILE
With a talent whose size is proportional to his girth, John Goodman has proven himself both a distinguished character actor and engaging leading man. A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Goodman went to Southwestern Missouri State University on a football scholarship, but an injury compelled him to seek out a less strenuous major. He chose the university drama department, attending classes with such stars-to-be as Tess Harper and Kathleen Turner. Moving to New York in 1975, he supported himself, his wife, and his children by performing in children's and dinner theatre, appearing in TV commercials, and working as a bouncer.
Goodman made his off-Broadway debut in a 1978 staging of A Midsummer Night's Dream, and a year later graduated to Broadway in Loose Ends. His best Broadway showing was as the drunken, brutish "Pap" in Big River, Rodger Miller's 1985 musical adaptation of Huckleberry Finn. In films from 1983, Goodman has occasionally played out-and-out villains or louts (The Big Easy, Barton Fink), but his essential likeability has endeared him to audiences even when his on-screen behavior is at its least sympathetic. He contributed topnotch supporting appearances to such films as Everybody's All-American (1988), Sea of Love (1989), Arachnophobia (1990) and Stella (1990), and has excelled in such starring assignments as King Ralph (1991), The Babe (1992, as Babe Ruth), Born Yesterday (1993) and The Flintstones (1994, as Fred Flintstone). Goodman did some of his best work in Matinee (1993), in which he starred as William Castle-esque horror flick entrepreneur Lawrence Woolsey, and topped himself in The Big Lebowski (1998), playing a quirky security-store owner. The following year he could be seen in Martin Scorsese's Bringing Out the Dead as an ambulance driver alongside Nicolas Cage and Ving Rhames.
Between 1988 and 1996, Goodman appeared as blue-collar patriarch Dan Conner on the hit TV sitcom Roseanne, a role that has earned him four Emmy nominations and a Golden Globe award; additional TV credits include the made-for-cable Huey Long (1994, in the title role) and A Streetcar Named Desire (1995, as Mitch), for which he earned another Emmy nomination. Announcing that the 1996-97 season of Roseanne would be his last, Goodman limited himself to infrequent appearances on the series, his absences explained away as a by-product of the heart attack suffered by his alter ego Dan Conner at the end of the previous season.