Richard Tiffany Gere ( /ˈɡɪər/ geer; born August 31, 1949) is an American actor. He began acting in the 1970s, playing a supporting role in Looking for Mr. Goodbar, and a starring role in Days of Heaven. He came to prominence in 1980 for his role in the film American Gigolo, which established him as a leading man and a sex symbol. He went on to star in several hit films including An Officer and a Gentleman, Pretty Woman, Primal Fear, and Chicago, for which he won a Golden Globe Award as Best Actor, as well as a Screen Actors Guild Award as part of the Best Cast.
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Gere is a descendant of Mayflower Pilgrims Francis Eaton, John Billington, George Soule, Richard Warren, Degory Priest, William Brewster and Francis Cooke. Gere's mother, Doris Ann (née Tiffany, born 1924), was a homemaker, and his father, Homer George Gere (born 1922), was an insurance agent for the Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company and had originally intended to become a minister. Gere is their eldest son and second child. In 1967, he graduated from North Syracuse Central High School, where he excelled at gymnastics and music, playing the trumpet. He attended the University of Massachusetts Amherst on a gymnastics scholarship, majoring in philosophy, but did not graduate, leaving after two years.
Gere first worked professionally at the Provincetown Playhouse on Cape Cod in 1971 where he starred in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. His first major acting role was in the original London stage version of Grease in 1973. He began appearing in Hollywood films in the mid 1970s, co-starring in the thriller Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977) and playing the leading role in director Terrence Malick's well-reviewed 1978 film, Days of Heaven. In 1980, Gere appeared in the Broadway production of Bent. He became a major star that year with the film American Gigolo, followed by the romantic drama An Officer and a Gentleman, which grossed almost $130 million in 1982.