The son of a wealthy office-supplies dealer, American actor Maxwell Gail Jr. excelled in high-school sports, spending his senior year as an exchange student in Germany. Upon earning collegiate degrees from both Williams University and University of Michigan, he became a teacher in Detroit's inner city, partially to ensure himself a draft deferment. Frustrated at trying to communicate with his sullen poverty-level students, Gail chucked it all to head for San Francisco, where he worked as a guidance counselor. Again, the frustrations of the job got to him, compelling Gail to seek employment as a cocktail-lounge pianist. Trying out for a play on a whim in 1970, Gail finally found his life's calling. He spent the early '70s haunting the casting offices, accepting small TV roles as heavies and bullies. A guest spot as a tough lug on the 1974 sitcom Friends and Lovers caught the attention of producer Danny Arnold, who cast Gail as Detective Stanley "Wojo" Wojohowicz on the new comedy series Barney Miller. Gail played "Wojo" until the series' cancellation in 1980, at which point he re-entered the guest-star pool. Since that time Max Gail Jr. has been seen as a reporter on the short-lived 1983 adventure series Whiz Kids, and as the father of Dweezil Zappa and Moon Unit Zappa on the even shorter-lived 1990 sitcom Normal Life.