James Brolin is an American actor, producer and director, best known for his roles in soap operas, movies, sitcoms, and television. He is the father of actor Josh Brolin and husband of singer/actress Barbra Streisand.
Brolin was born Craig Kenneth Bruderlin in Los Angeles, California. The eldest of two brothers and two sisters, he was the son of Helen Sue, a homemaker, and Henry Bruderlin, a building contractor. The family settled in Westwood after his birth. As a young child, he was apparently more interested in animals and airplanes than in acting. When Brolin was 10 in 1950, he began building model airplanes and was taught to fly them. As a teenaged moviegoer in the mid-1950s he was particularly fascinated with actor James Dean. When his parents invited a director over to his family’s house for dinner before auditioning, he met another fellow actor and classmate, Ryan O’Neal, who was about a year younger than Brolin, and the two clicked, while the two enrolled in Los Angeles’s renowned University High School. However, Bruderlin’s own acting exposed his stifling shyness. His assurance grew when O’Neal invited him to a casting agency. Brolin graduated from high school in 1958, and his family was already encouraging him to become an actor like O’Neal.
Prior to taking acting classes in school, Brolin started out as a character actor on an episode of Bus Stop in 1961. The part led to parts in other television productions such as Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Margie, Love, American Style, Twelve O’Clock High and The Long, Hot Summer. He made 3 guest appearances on the popular 1960s series Batman, alongside Adam West and Burt Ward, as well as roles in The Virginian, and Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law alongside Arthur Hill and Lee Majors. He also had a recurring role on the short-lived television series The Monroes.
At the age of 20 he changed his last name from “Bruderlin” to “Brolin” to become James Brolin. He accepted a contract with 20th Century Fox. While in school struggling to make it big, he met future young actor Clint Eastwood. Brolin also had small roles in several movies including Take Her, She’s Mine, Dear Brigitte, Von Ryan’s Express, Fantastic Voyage. The following year, his first big role was in The Cape Town Affair, but it did not receive any success at the box office. Brolin was ultimately fired by 20th Century Fox.