Family & Companions
Handsome actor Michael Nouri may have received his start on stage in the hit play "Forty Carats" (1968-1970) and on daytime dramas like "Search for Tomorrow" (CBS/NBC, 1951-1986), but his notoriety increased dramatically after he played Jennifer Beals' hunky boyfriend in the smash hit "Flashdance" (1983). On the basis of that considerable exposure, Nouri was poised to be a movie star, but subsequent outings like "The Imagemaker" (1986) and "The Hidden" (1987) failed at the box office and he returned to television. After a handful of short-lived series, Nouri was granted steady employment as a supporting cast member on the sitcom "Love & War" (CBS, 1992-95) and had a run on Broadway with Julie Andrews in the stage incarnation of "Victor/Victoria" (1995-97). A string of largely terrible direct-to-video productions somewhat tarnished Nouri's standing, but he was rarely idle, guest starring on a number of prominent primetime shows and undertaking secondary roles in major pictures like "The Terminal" (2004) and "The Proposal" (2009). Although international stardom proved elusive, Nouri went on to have a long and successful career as a respected character performer alternating between television, film and the stage.
Iraqi and Irish in heritage, Michael Nouri was born in Washington, DC at the Walter Reade Army Hospital on Dec. 9, 1945. An extroverted child who loved to be the center of attention, Nouri performed in school plays and eventually decided to become a performer, which clashed with his father's hope that he would follow him into the life insurance business. At age 19, Nouri tried office work for a few weeks before deciding that he would be better off pursuing his true passion. Although his early grades demonstrated a lack of serious interest in studying, Nouri went on to attend Avon Old Farms School in Connecticut, where he made his acting debut as a judge in a staging of "Trial by Jury." While there, he became student body president and broke the institution's record in the javelin throw. Nouri also attended Florida's Rollins College and majored in drama at Emerson College in Boston before he relocated to New York City and started to attend auditions.
At the outset of his career, Nouri enjoyed the sort of good luck that few performers experience. After his first audition, he won a small part in the motion picture "Goodbye, Columbus" (1969) and soon afterward made his Broadway debut via a lead role in the comedy "Forty Carats" (1968-1970). He was off to a flying start, but after a two-year run on stage, Nouri felt uncertain about what he wanted to do in life. For a time he tried to make a living as a singer and also followed Guru Maharaj Ji, traveling the country as a member of the Divine Light Mission. Nouri eventually resumed acting and his good looks and dramatic abilities made him a desirable commodity for daytime dramas. Beginning in 1974, he worked on both "Somerset" (NBC, 1970-76) and "Search for Tomorrow" (CBS/NBC, 1951-1986). At the close of the 1970s, Nouri was hired on to one of the more unique television experiments of the time. "Cliffhangers" (NBC, 1979) was an attempt to emulate the serial formula of yore, with 20 minute chapters of three different shows sharing the same one hour timeslot. Nouri played the title role in the horror installment, "Dracula '79," which received the best response from viewers, but not enough to save the program from cancellation. He was seen by a lot more viewers as notorious mobster Lucky Luciano in the miniseries "The Gangster Chronicles" (NBC, 1981), which was released theatrically overseas and on domestic video in condensed form as "Gangster Wars" (1981).
After a few years of such parts, Nouri's big break came via the surprise Adrian Lyne-helmed hit "Flashdance" (1983), where he was cast as Nick Hurley, the handsome and personable boss of sexy steel mill welder/exotic dancer Jennifer Beals. Although his co-star received the lion's share of attention - and weathered much controversy when it was discovered that Beals had been doubled during her dancing sequences - Nouri's good looks and unforced charm opened many doors. He soon received another chance on network television as the star of "Bay City Blues" (NBC, 1983), a Steven Bochco effort about a minor league ball club. It was sent to the showers after only a few weeks, but another shot at the big screen arrived for Nouri when he was cast in the title role of "The Imagemaker" (1986). Unfortunately, the political mystery/thriller performed poorly and quickly disappeared from the few theatres that showed it.
Returning to small screen work, Nouri toplined "Downtown" (CBS, 1986-87) as a detective who solves crimes with the help of four parolees in his charge. The program did not find an audience, but he was quickly engaged to star in "The Hidden" (1987), which cleverly melded science fiction and law enforcement elements. The action-packed film received above-average notices and became a success on video and cable, but its theatrical numbers were fairly weak, so Nouri was courted instead by producers of direct-to-video features and television productions. The latter medium provided the best work for Nouri, who enjoyed a three-season run as egotistical actor Kip Zakaris on the Jay Thomas/Joanna Gleason sitcom "Love & War" (CBS, 1992-95). While the series aired, Nouri supplemented his income by appearing in a number of low-grade, direct-to-video features like "Inner Sanctum II" (1994), "Hologram Man" (1995) and the Anna Nicole Smith disaster "To the Limit" (1995) that did nothing positive for his reputation.
However, Nouri was invited to make his first trip back to Broadway in more than 25 years for the stage incarnation of "Victor/Victoria" (1995-97). Spawned by the hit 1982 movie, the play featured the film's original star, Julie Andrews and Nouri in the part originated by James Garner. Under the direction of original helmer Blake Edwards, the new incarnation enjoyed a prosperous engagement of more than a year. By that point in his career, Nouri had established himself as a dependable character actor and essayed a supporting assignment in Gus Van Sant's drama "Finding Forrester" (2000), as well as frequent TV guest star parts and a turn as slugger Joe DiMaggio in the cable feature "*61"(HBO, 2001). He returned to the stage as legendary artist Auguste Rodin in a Goodspeed Opera production of "Camille Claudel" (2003), starred with Patti LuPone in a City Center revival of "Can-Can" (2004), and had a 2004 run on "The Young and the Restless" (CBS, 1973- ).
Nouri also guested periodically over several seasons on "The O.C." (Fox, 2003-07) and "Damages" (FX Network, 2007-10; Audience Network, 2011-12), appeared several times on "NCIS" (CBS, 2003- ) as Mossad Director Eli David, and was featured in such major films as Steven Spielberg's "The Terminal" (2004), "Invincible" (2006) and "The Proposal" (2009). During time off, he performed humanitarian work through his association with The Prem Rawat Foundation, Seeds of Peace, Earth Hour and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. In 2010, Nouri joined the cast of "All My Children" (ABC, 1970-2011) as a hermit whose tranquility is interrupted when star Susan Lucci crashes her private plane into his remote home. Nouri appeared on the program until near the end of the soap opera's four-decade run. He also continued to essay movie roles in productions like the period Mafia drama "Sinatra Club" (2010) and the prequel "Easy Rider: The Ride Back" (2013). Unfortunately, Nouri found himself earning unwanted news coverage in November 2012 when he was arrested on suspicion of felony domestic violence and released after posting a $50,000 bond.
By John Charles
Cast (Feature Film)
Producer (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Broadway debut, "Forty Carats"
TV series debut as a regular, the CBS daytime serial "Search For Tomorrow"; played role of Steve Kaslo
TV debut on a variety special, "After Hours: From Janice, John, Mary and Michael, With Love" (CBS), featuring daytime TV actors performing
TV-movie debut, "Contract on Cherry Street" (NBC), starring Frank Sinatra
Star of short-lived gothic horror series, "The Curse of Dracula" (NBC)
First TV miniseries, NBC's "The Last Convertible"
Regular on short-lived TV series, "The Gangster Chronicles" (NBC)
Feature film debut, "Flashdance"
Starred in the NBC miniseries, "The Rage of Angels: The Story Continues"
Had title role in a TV-movie, "Quiet Victory: The Charlie Wedemeyer Story" (CBS)
Returned to Broadway to star opposite Julie Andrews in "Victor/Victoria"
Portrayed international playbopy Porfirio Rubirosa in "Too Rich: The Secret Life of Doris Duke" (CBS)
Headlined a tour of "South Pacific"
Cast in Steven Spielberg's "The Terminal"
Appeared in "The Proposal"
Landed a recurring role on "All My Children"
Appeared on the mini-series "The Slap"