Sunday, February 20, 2011

Randy Quaid

Randy Quaid is an actor perhaps best known for portraying quirky characters such as "Cousin Eddie" in the Vacation movies. There is no doubt that Quaid's entertainment career has been a tremendous success - he has appeared in more than 90 movies since the 1970s. However, Quaid is undoubtedly a washed-up celebrity because his personal life is in shambles, resulting in the recent decision of he and his wife to move to Canada to seek asylum.

Quaid was born in October 1, 1950 in Houston, Texas in a family with minor ties to the entertainment world. His younger brother is movie star Dennis Quaid. According to brother Dennis Quaid, their father was a "failed actor." His grand-father's first cousin was the singing cowboy, Gene Autry.

Randy became and actor as a young adult and began appearing in minor roles in movies during the early 1970s. His first major role was in the 1973 comedy-drama, "The Last Detail," where he starred alongside Jack Nicholson and played a young sailor sentenced to a stiff 8 year prison sentence for stealing $40 from a charity box. The movie followed Quaid's character as Nicholson and another actor accompany Quaid's character to a naval prison. Quaid received critical acclaim for his role in The Last Detail and was nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.

Quaid continued appearing in other hit films during the mid-late 1970s, such as "Paper Moon" and "Lolly-Madonna XXX" in 1973 and the Charles Bronson hit prison break movie, "Breakout" in 1975. Quaid followed up with a memorable role as an American prisoner stuck in a Turkish prison in Oliver Stone's 1978 classic drama, "Midnight Express."

Quaid's star continued to rise into the 1980s. In 1983 he appeared as the wacky white trash "Cousin Eddie" in the smash hit comedic Vacation movies. Quaid later starred as a "feature player" on Saturday Night Live during the 1985-86 season. Quaid took a short break from comedy in 1987 when he appeared in the starring role in the well-received "LBJ: The Early Years" made-for-tv movie. Quaid won a Golden Globe for his role as President Lyndon Johnson.

Quaid continued appearing in many movies throughout the 1990s and the first decade on the 2000s. One particularly notable role was in the 1996 smash-hit Independence Day where he played a goofy alcoholic crop-duster who had been abducted by aliens during his youth and evens the score by flying a fighter plane to fight back against the aliens during a full-scale attack.

Another memorable role from 1996 was in the comedy Kingpin, where Quaid played Ishmael Boorg, an Amish bowler who tries to win a professional bowling championship after he is discovered by Woody Harrelson's character. In one classic scene, Chris Elliot's multi-millionaire character offers Harrelson $1 million to sleep with Quaid's character. Harrelson fantasizes about accepting before eventually rejecting the offer.

Quaid received Golden Globe and Emmy nominations for his role as talent manager Colonel Tom Parker in the critically acclaimed 2005 mini-series, Elvis, which appeared on CBS.

In 2006 Quaid appeared in the gay cowboy flick, "Brokeback Mountain," where he portrayed an insensitive rancher. Quaid claimed that he agreed to appear for a relatively low fee in the movie because he had been informed that it was "a low-budget, art house film with no prospect of making any money." Quaid was understandably upset when the movie became a hit and grossed $160 million. Quaid sued for $10 million alleging that the producers misrepresented the film to him. Quaid's lawsuit was later settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.

Quaid has also kept himself busy with occasional voice-over roles. He voiced the animated Colonel Sanders in a series of animated commercials for KFC.

Quaid branches over to theater work once in awhile, although his theater work has not always been well-received. In February 2008, the Actors' Equity Association labor union which represents American stage actors banned Quaid for life and fined him more than $81,000. The cab was related to a Seattle production of "Lone Star Love," a Western-themed adaptation of William Shakespeare's "The Merry Wives of Windsor." In that play, Quaid played the lead role of Falstaff. According to the New York Post, all 26 members of the musical cast claimed that Quaid "physically and verbally abused his fellow performers" and that the show closed rather than continuing to Broadway because of Quaid's "oddball behavior."

Despite his small and big-screen successes, Qauid's personal life is in shambles. I wonder whether he has ever felt any jealously toward his younger brother, Dennis Quaid. Dennis Quaid clearly got the better looks and has occasionally been a headline star, unlike Randy Quaid. For whatever reason, Quaid has engaged in unusual behavior in recent years.

In September 2009, Quaid and his wife were arrested in Texas for defrauding an innkeeper, burglary, and committing conspiracy in California. Quaid and his wife allegedly departed a Santa Barbara, California hotel with an outstanding balance due of approximately $10,000. Although the Quaids made bail and eventually paid the balance, they were still prosecuted for the crime. The Quaids were supposed to appear in district court in Santa Barbara but failed to do so. The Santa Barbara District Attorney's Office later requested bench warrants for the arrest and extradition of the Quaids from Texas in October 2009 after they failed to appear in court. The Quaids later failed to appear at court in April 2010 and forfeited a $1 million in bail that they had previously paid. Arrest warrants for the Quaids were again issued in April 2010.

In April 2010 the Quaids finally appeared in court and their lawyer was able to resolve the case, resulting in a dismissal of the case . The case was dismissed against Randy Quaid for lack of evidence. Quaid's wife, Evi, on the other hand pled no contest to a misdemeanor count of defrauding an innkeeper and was granted probation and ordered to serve 240 hours of community service.

Quaid and his wife ran afoul of the law again in September 2010 when they were charged with burglary. The Quaids apparently were squatting in a guest house, i.e., living in the guest house without permission. The Quaids claimed that they had owned the property since the 1990s, but the property owner produced documents that showed the house was sold to the current owner in 2007. The previous owner had apparently purchased the property from the Quaids years earlier. The Quaids are currently being accused of causing more than $5,000 worth of damage to the guest house.

The Quaids claim that the home was wrongfully transferred to a third party by the use of the forged signature of a dead woman named Ronda Quaid in 1992. Bench warrents were later issued for the Quaids in October 2010 after they failed to appear in court for a hearing on the burglary charges.

Instead of owning up to the wrongdoing of he and his wife, Quaid decided to flee in the country in October 2010. Quaid and his wife sought protection under the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Protection Act after being arrested at the US-Canadian border in Vancouver B.C. The Quaids have sought refugee status on the grounds that they fear for their lives in the United States as numerous actors have died under mysterious circumstances committed by the "Hollywood star whackers". The Quaids were granted bail on the condition that they post a $10,000 bond. The Quaids, however, failed to post the requisite bond and were subsequently arrested by the Canada Border Services Agency. The Quaids were later released on October 27, 2010 after it was determined that Evi Quaid is a "prima facie Canadian citizen."

Randy Quaid has had a long and successful acting career and is known throughout the world for his various quirky roles. However, Quaid's personal life is very strange to say the least and a result, there should be no doubt that Randy Quaid is one washed-up celebrity!

*** Update - October 12, 2015 ***

Randy Quaid and his wife, Evi, were arrested on Saturday, October 10, 2015 while attempting to cross into the United States from Canada.  They are reportedly being held awaiting extradition on arrest warrants outstanding in California.  

Quaid looks completely disheveled in this photo taken by the Vermont state police!