Dennis William Quaid was born to Juanita Bonniedale and William Rudy Quaid in Houston, Texas. He has an older brother, who is also into acting; Randy Quaid. Dennis is of English-Irish-Cajun ancestry.
He was raised in Bellaire, Texas, where he studied at the Paul W. Horn Elementary School. He then studied at the Pershing Middle School in Houston.
He attended the Bellaire High School, where he studied Mandarin and dance and later attended the University of Houston. He dropped out of the university in 1974 and moved to Los Angeles, so that he could chase a career in acting.
He landed his first bit-role in Jonathan Demme’s, ‘Crazy Mama’, in 1975. After this brief appearance, he had a little trouble finding work in the movies.
He was noticed by producers, when he appeared in ‘Breaking Away’ in 1979. The next year, he was seen in the movies, ‘The Long Riders’ and ‘Gorp’.
In 1981, he appeared as ‘Freddie Dupler’ in ‘All Night Long’ and as ‘Barry Morrow’ in ‘Bill’. The same year, he also appeared in ‘Caveman’ as ‘Lar’ and as ‘Travis Child’ in ‘The Night the Lights Went out in Georgia’.
From 1982 to 1984, he appeared in a string of films including, ‘Johnny Belinda’, ‘Tough Enough’, ‘Jaws 3-D’ and ‘Dreamscape’. However, during this period, he earned his first breakthrough in the film, ‘The Right Stuff’ as Gordon Cooper. By this time, his characteristic smile and grin made him even more popular.
In 1985, he starred in ‘Enemy Mine’ followed by ‘Innerspace’ two years later. During this period, he also starred in ‘The Big Easy’, which earned him his first movie awards.
From 1988 to 1990, he appeared in ‘D.O.A’, ‘Everybody’s All American’, his first sports movie, ‘Great Balls of Fire!’, ‘Come See the Paradise’ and ‘Postcards from the Edge’. It was during this period that he appeared in a music video for Bonnie Raitt in a song called, ‘Thing Called Love’.
However, not all was successful for this actor from here on. His career began descend after his battle with anorexia and a persistent drug addiction. Nevertheless, he still managed to garner positive reviews for the ‘Wyatt Earp’, which released in 1994.
From 1995 to 1998, he appeared in light-hearted films including, ‘Something to Talk About’, ‘Dragonheart’, ‘Switchback’, ‘The Parent Trap’ and ‘Playing by Heart’. The next year, he played the role of a pro quarterback in ‘Any Given Sunday’.
In 2000, he appeared in the movies, ‘Frequency’ and ‘Traffic’, both of which helped his career to come back on track. He even won important awards for these movies.
His biggest break came in 2002, when he was cast as ‘Frank Whitaker’ in the movie, ‘Far from Heaven’. He received immense critical acclaim and went on to bag a number of important awards for his role. This was followed by a role in the film, ‘Cold Creek Manor’ the following year.
From 2004 to 2006 he starred in the films, ‘The Day After Tomorrow’, ‘In Good Company’, ‘Flight of the Phoenix’, ‘Yours, Mine and Ours’ and ‘American Dreamz’.
In 2007, he was cast in a voice role as ‘Roven’ for ‘Battle for Terra’. This was followed by more outlandish/comic roles in movies like ‘Vantage Point’, ‘Smart People’ and ‘The Express’ the following year.
In 2009, he was seen in the movies, ‘G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra’ and ‘Pandorum’, both of which went on to collect good money at the box-office. The same year, he guest-starred in an episode of ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’.
In 2010, he portrayed the role of Bill Clinton alongside Hope Davis and Michael Sheen in the film, ‘The Special Relationship. This was followed by ‘Soul Surfer’ and ‘Footloose’ the following year.
From 2012 to 2013, he has appeared in the films, ‘Beneath the Darkness’, ‘What to Expect when Your Expecting’, ‘The Words’, ‘Playing for Keeps’, ‘At Any Price’ and ‘Movie 43’. He also appeared in the television show, ‘Vegas’ for which he is also the executive producer.
In 1987, he won the Independent Spirit Award for ‘Best Lead Male’ for ‘The Big Easy’.
He won the Valladolid International Film Festival Award for ‘Best Actor’ for ‘The Big Easy’, in 1987.
He earned the Screen Actors Guild Award for ‘Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture’ for ‘Traffic’, in 2000.
He own the Chicago Film Critics Association Award for ‘Best Supporting Actor’ for ‘Far From Heaven’, in 2002.
In 2002, he won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for ‘Best Supporting Actor’ for ‘Far From Heaven’.
He won the Online Film Critics Society Award for ‘Best Supporting Actor’ for ‘Far From Heaven’, in 2002.
In 2005, he was named as ‘top golfer among Hollywood’ by Golf Digest.
He married P.J. Soles on November 25, 1978. The couple divorced five years later.
On February 14, 1991, he married actress Meg Ryan, with whom he has a son, Jack Henry. The couple divorced a decade later. It was rumored that the reason behind the split was infidelity by both parties.
He began dating Shanna Moakler in 2001 and his relationship with her lasted for eight months.
He married Kimberly Buffington, a Texas real-estate agent on July 4, 2004. They have two fraternal twins born via gestational carrier; Thomas Boone and Zoe Grace. Right after the twins were born, the hospital staff accidently administered an excessive amount of heparin after which Quaid filed a lawsuit on the hospital.
He and his wife Kimberly filed for divorce on November 30, 2012 and asked for joint custody of the children.
Apart from acting, he is an avid golfer and also has a pilot’s license. He is a fan of the team, ‘Houston Astros’.
He confessed to substance abuse during one period in his career and narrowly escaped arrest for driving under influence in 2009.
The ‘Dennis Quaid Charity Weekend’ is named after him, which is a celebrity golf tournament. The money received at the end of the tournament goes to a number of charities for children. He also works closely with the International Hospital for Children in New Orleans.