Dennis Haysbert


6/2/1954 (68 years old) San Mateo, California, United States

It's not surprising that this commanding actor has played a striking number of athletes. The defensive end on his high-school football team, Haysbert turned down multiple sports scholarships in order to study at the American Academy of Dramatic Art. But he didn't quite leave his past behind. In his very first TV role he was cast as a basketball player on an episode of White Shadow, and later he appeared in numerous sports-related projects (Love & Basketball, Grambling's White Tiger, Mr. Baseball). Throughout the '80s, Haysbert was a constant small-screen presence, racking up guest spots on a diverse array of series, everything from Laverne & Shirley to Dallas to 227. He finally segued to features in the 1989 comedy Major League. But the next year, he proved that he had brains to go with his brawn when he landed his breakthrough role: a single father who falls for a white woman in the '60s period drama Love Field. In 2001, the journeyman actor suddenly found himself in the spotlight when he signed on to the taut action series 24 as a presidential hopeful who eventually won the White House. The next year, a critically acclaimed (and quite familiar) turn as a single father in love with a white woman in the '50s period piece Far From Heaven proved he still had big-screen clout. Although he left 24 in its third season, he continued to make guest appearances, and in 2006 he headlined the military drama The Unit. The series ended in 2009 after four seasons, but Haysbert remains a familiar face thanks to his work as the main spokesperson for Allstate car insurance.

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