Born on August 31, 1949, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Richard Gere has made a name for himself with such films as An Officer and a Gentleman, Pretty Woman, Chicago and Arbitrage. He grew up in a large Methodist family, one of five children born to Homer and Doris Ann Gere. A musical child, Gere became quite skilled at playing the trumpet.
After graduating from North Syracuse Central High School in 1967, Richard Gere studied philosophy at University of Massachusetts at Amherst on a gymnastics scholarship. He left school after two years to explore his interest in theater. In the early 1970s, Gere landed the role of Danny Zuko in the musical Grease in London.
Gere had a career breakthrough in 1977 with the dramatic thriller Looking for Mr. Goodbar, starring Diane Keaton. In the film, he plays a rough-and-tumble lothario who meets a schoolteacher (Keaton). The following year, Gere landed a starring role in Terrence Malick’s epic Days of Heaven.
Gere became an actor on the rise in the 1980s. In 1980, he had the title role in American Gigolo. Gere’s character in the film is the personification of smooth and cool with his distinctive fashion style and swagger. Two years later, he came to embody the romantic lead in An Officer and a Gentleman opposite Debra Winger. Gere plays a troubled military recruit who gets involved with a local girl near his basic training camp. The drama proved to be a box office hit.
In 1990, Gere enjoyed another wave of success with the romantic comedy Pretty Woman. The film follows the unlikely relationship that develops between a prostitute, played by Julia Roberts, and her client (Gere). He also showed himself capable of handling more weighty roles, such as the dirty cop in 1990’s Internal Affairs and a defense attorney in Primal Fear (1996).
Known for his charisma, charm and good looks, Gere earned People magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” honor in 1999. He played against type for 2002’s Unfaithful as Diane Lane’s cuckolded husband. That same year, Gere returned to his musical theater roots with the film adaptation of the Broadway hit Chicago. He won a Golden Globe Award for his portrayal of slick lawyer Billy Flynn.