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Paul Le Mat
Born (1945-09-22) September 22, 1945 (age 78)
Years active1972–present
(m. 1978; div. 1994)
Children3 Edit this at Wikidata

Paul Le Mat (born September 22, 1945) is an American actor.[1] He first came to prominence with his role in American Graffiti (1973); his performance was met with critical acclaim and earned him the Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year - Actor.

Le Mat's breakout performance in American Graffiti landed him the lead role in box office hit Aloha, Bobby and Rose (1975). He also is known for his work in the Jonathan Demme films Handle with Care (1977) and Melvin and Howard (1980). He won another Golden Globe award for his performance in the TV film The Burning Bed (1984) and starred in the cult film Puppet Master (1989) which spawned a franchise.

Early life and education

Le Mat was born to Matthew (1914–1963) and Elizabeth LeMat (1917–2016). He graduated from Newport Harbor High School in 1963, and attended San Diego City College, Cypress Junior College, Chapman College, and eventually received an Associate of Arts degree from Los Angeles Valley College. Le Mat served in the Vietnam War with the U.S. Navy on an SP-5B Marlin seaplane in a maritime patrol squadron.


Le Mat starred in the pilot episode of Firehouse in 1973. In 1972, he appeared in American Graffiti (released in 1973), a coming-of-age film about a group of friends in Modesto, California in the early 1960s. He played John Milner - a role that would earn him his first Golden Globe Award. The film received universal acclaim and was a box office smash. Le Mat also starred in Floyd Mutrux's 1975 crime spree film Aloha, Bobby and Rose, another commercial hit.

In 1977, he starred in Jonathan Demme's acclaimed comedy Citizens Band, later re-titled Handle with Care. Le Mat would reunite with Demme for 1980's Melvin and Howard, in which he played the title role of Melvin Dummar. The film was based upon the true story of a gas station attendant who claimed to be an heir of eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes, and it won two Academy Awards. Le Mat was nominated for a Golden Globe Award. In 1979, Le Mat reprised his role of John Milner in More American Graffiti.

In 1982, Le Mat played the character John Dortmunder in Jimmy the Kid, opposite Gary Coleman in the role of Jimmy. He also provided the voice of Omar in the American release of the animated film Rock & Rule. Le Mat starred in the made-for-TV movie The Burning Bed with Farrah Fawcett. The film was based on the true story of an abusive husband who drives his wife to drastic measures with his aggressive ways. Le Mat was awarded the second Golden Globe Award of his career for his role in the film. He starred in other television films such as The Night They Saved Christmas, Into the Homeland and Secret Witness. He appeared in the TV miniseries On Wings of Eagles and in the film Puppet Master.

In the 1990s, Le Mat worked on independent films and TV movies. He played Josiah Peale in Lonesome Dove: The Series and in the follow-up Lonesome Dove: The Outlaw Years. He had a small role in the 1998 film American History X. More recently, Le Mat starred in the film Stateside.

Personal life

He married Suzanne de Passe in 1978[citation needed] Le Mat and de Passe have since divorced.


Year Title Role Notes
1973 Firehouse Billy Dalzell TV series; episode "Pilot"
1973 American Graffiti John Milner Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year - Actor
1975 Aloha, Bobby and Rose Bobby
1977 Handle with Care (aka Citizen's Band) Spider
1979 More American Graffiti John Milner
1980 Melvin and Howard Melvin Dummar Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1982 Death Valley Mike
1982 The Gift of Life Dwayne Sutton Television film
1982 Jimmy the Kid John Dortmunder
1983 Rock & Rule Omar Voice role, American dub
1983 Strange Invaders Charles Bigelow
1984 The Burning Bed Mickey Hughes Television film
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
1984 The Night They Saved Christmas Michael Baldwin Television film
1986 On Wings of Eagles Jay Coburn TV mini-series
1986 Long Time Gone Nick Sandusky Television film
1987 P.K. and the Kid Kid Kane
1987 Deadly Nightmares Jake Purly TV series; episode "Doctor's Orders"
1987 The Hanoi Hilton Earl Hubman
1987 P.I. Private Investigations Detective Wexler
1987 Into the Homeland Derrick Winston Television film
1988 Murder, She Wrote Carl Mattson / Luke Purdue TV series; episode "Showdown in Saskatchewan"
1988 Secret Witness Kurt Television film
1988 The Twilight Zone Tom Bennett TV series; episode "Appointment on Route 17"
1989 Easy Wheels Bruce
1989 Puppet Master Alex Whitaker
1989 Grave Secrets David Shaw
1989 Veiled Threat Jack Purcell
1989 Blind Witness Detective Mike Tuthill Television film
1992 The Ray Bradbury Theater Charlie TV series; episode "The Jar"
1992 In the Line of Duty: Siege at Marion Doug Bodrero Television film
1992 Woman with a Past Merle Television film
1992 Wishman Basie
1992 Deuce Coupe Sheriff
1994 Caroline at Midnight Emmet
1994 Sensation Mitch Snyder
1995 Deep Down Ray
1995 Grace Under Fire The Stranger TV series; episode "Memphis Bound"
1994–1995 Lonesome Dove: The Series Josiah Peale TV series; 16 episodes
1995–1996 Lonesome Dove: The Outlaw Years Josiah Peale TV series; 14 episodes
1998 American History X McMahon
1999 The Outfitters Robby
2000 Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction Sheldon Ludovic TV series; episode "Eclipse"
2001 Big Bad Love Monroe
2004 Stateside Dori's Internist
2004 The Long Shot Guido Levits Television film
2009 Chrome Angels Elliot


  1. ^ "Paul Le Mat". The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 11, 2007.