What do "Flashdance," "Beverly Hills Cop," "Remember the Titans" and "Pirates of the Caribbean" all have in common? Only the fact that the powerhouse producer behind them all was Jerry Bruckheimer. And these box-office hits are only a fraction of the movie and television projects that bear Bruckheimer’s name.
A Los Angeles Times columnist once dubbed him "the maestro of crowd-pleasing pictures."
Bruckheimer grew up in Detroit and later attended the University of Arizona, where he earned a degree in psychology. He had an early interest in photography, which helped foster his interest in film.
He began his career in advertising but soon segued into the production business and went on to become a dominant figure in the action/adventure genre.
After moving to Los Angeles in the early 1970s, Bruckheimer met Don Simpson and worked with him on "American Gigolo" (1980), starring Richard Gere. The two co-founded Don Simpson/Jerry Bruckheimer Films in 1982 and produced movies for Paramount, including "Flashdance," which was made for $7.5 million and went on to collect $95 million at the box office. Other credits included "Beverly Hills Cop" (1984) and its first sequel, and "Top Gun" (1986), among others.
After Simpson’s unexpected death in 1996, Bruckheimer branched out to television, with notable successes such as "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" and "The Amazing Race." He produced film hits "Armageddon" (1998), "Black Hawk Down" (2001) and the "Pirates of the Caribbean" series, with Johnny Depp as Capt. Jack Sparrow.
"With apologies to Ben Franklin," Times film critic Betsy Sharkey wrote in her review of "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time" in 2010, "the only things certain in life are death, taxes and that a Jerry Bruckheimer film will do its bombastic best to pummel, pound and, now, parkour you into submission."
For his part, Bruckheimer said his success was the result of determination. Asked in a 2003 interview if he was hard to work for, he responded:
"Hard? Yes, because everybody works really hard. I’m not a screamer or a yeller, but, you know, I demand a lot out of the people that work for me because we want to make good movies and the way you make good movies is by working really hard on them."
Bruckheimer has supported the fight against multiple sclerosis, working with the Nancy Davis Foundation for Multiple Sclerosis, and is a contributor to the Republican Party. He has been married twice, and has one step-daughter. Bruckheimer lives in Los Angeles.