Actor John Frederick Dryer was born in Hawthorne, California, on July 6, 1946, son of Charles F. Dryer and Genevieve Nell Clark. Raised in Lawndale, California, he attended Lawndale High School and El Camino College. Before acting, he played football for 14 years.
In college, Dryer played for the Aztecs of San Diego State University, under Head Coach Don Coryell, for the seasons 1967-1968. The 6' 6", 225-pound defensive end # 77 was named First Team All-American in 1968 and played in the College All-Star Game, East-West Shrine Game and Hula Bowl in 1969. A two-year letterman and starter, Dryer received the Chase Memorial Trophy as the school's top defensive lineman in 1968. On September 15, 1967, he was among those players who first stepped onto the brand-new San Diego Stadium (Qualcomm Stadium), when the Aztecs defeated Tennessee State 16-8 in front of 45,822 fans.
In 1988, Fred was inducted into the Aztec Hall of Fame. On May 28, 1997, he was named to the College Football Hall of Fame. He was considered among the most dominant pass rushers in college football history. The induction ceremony happened on August 16, in South Bend, Indiana. On November 8, he returned to San Diego to be honored during night's Homecoming game against the Spartans of San Jose State University.
Dryer started his professional career on the football field in 1969, when he was drafted by the New York Giants in the first round (the 13th pick overall). But as he didn't like New York very much, he left the Giants and returned to California to play for the Los Angeles Rams, which he did from 1972 to 1981, when he retired.
On October 21, 1973, the defensive end # 89 set an NFL record by registering 2 safeties in a single game, against Green Bay Packers.
With the Rams, Fred made the Pro Bowl in 1970 and 1975 and played in Super Bowl XIV in 1980, when the L.A. team was defeated by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Dryer was considered a maverick due to his playing style - and was one in his own life. He loved birds because he heard a song of freedom in the sound of flapping wings. For three years, while playing for the New York Giants, he lived in a Volkswagen van.
And he was a joker - on and off the football field. During the drills (and games), Fred played the role of stand-up comic. One of his talents was to do Tommy Prothro's voice, his head coach in 1972.
After stopping playing, Fred did sportscasting on CBS, quitting after 10 games because he felt he had no freedom in that job; besides, he was tired of traveling.
In the 80s, he started acting. In 1979, he began studying with actress and acting coach Nina Foch.
With the movies Gus and Prime Time, he got his Screen Actors Guild card. His first important role was in The Starmaker, where he played Melanie Griffith's stepfather.
In 1982, Fred auditioned for Cheers. One of 3 finalists, he lost the male lead to actor Ted Danson. Later, he made several guest appearances on the show as Dave Richards, Sam's former Boston Red Sox teammate turned sportscaster. In 1984, Fred was chosen to play the leading role of the TV series Hunter: LAPD Homicide Detective Sergeant Richard Hunter, a mobster's son turned cop. Hunter, created by Frank Lupo and produced by Stephen J. Cannell, is TV's version of Clint Eastwood's violent big screen cop Dirty Harry. Hunter's partner is Sergeant DeeDee McCall, a beautiful and tough widow, known around the squad as "The Brass Cupcake", played by Stepfanie Kramer. Hunter ran on NBC from 1984 to 1991.
Besides running in the USA, Hunter was sold to many countries: Brazil, Japan, Canada, England, France, Australia, Italy, Germany, Spain, Philippines, Korea, China, Thailand, Indonesia, Dubai, Brunei, Iceland, Bangladesh, Kuwait, Paraguay, Israel - 88 overall. In many of these places, the show goes on running till today. Fred is the biggest star in China - millions of Chineses watch Hunter every week. But, although being a worldwide hit, Hunter didn't get much recognition by the Hollywood industry and the critics.
Fred directed several Hunter episodes: A Child is Born, The Jade Woman, The Girl on the Beach, Ring of Honor, The Incident as well as produced 44 of them (6th and 7th seasons).
After Hunter, through his own company (Fred Dryer Productions), Fred returned to his popular role from TV on The Return of Hunter: Everyone Walks in L.A. (1995). In the same year, he produced and starred on a new TV series: Land's End, shot entirely in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
Since Land's End ended, Fred has been making movies and guest appearances on TV shows, as well as returned to play Hunter.
Dryer enjoys playing golf and working out. When he was a football player, he used to surf and dive for abalone. Since those times, Fred has neither eaten red meat nor drunk soda; his diet is composed of vegetables and chicken.
Another thing he very much likes is construction - he says if he wasn't in acting and producing, he would be in construction. Fred and his brother Charlie helped their father Charles build his house. In 1993, Fred built a 5-million mansion in Los Angeles, which was sold few years ago, because he didn't get used to living in such a luxurious place.
His father died on September 14, 1963, and his mother in 1994. Fred got married in May of 1983 to actress and Playboy centerfold Tracy Vaccaro, who worked with him on Hunter and Land's End.