Dan Gordon (screenwriter)

Dan Gordon (Hebrew: דן גורדון; born (1947-05-05)May 5, 1947) is an Israeli-American screenwriter, television writer, television producer, television director, film producer, novelist, playwright, film director, and reserve duty captain in the Israel Defense Forces.

Dan Gordon
Born (1947-05-05) May 5, 1947 (age 75)
NationalityIsraeli, American
  • Screenwriter
  • television writer
  • television producer
  • television director
  • film producer
  • novelist
  • playwright
  • film director
  • soldier

As a screenwriter, he has written films including Wyatt Earp, Passenger 57, Murder in the First, and The Hurricane, and developed the story for Rambo: Last Blood.[1] He has been the producer, screenwriter and story editor for over 200 hours of television, including Highway to Heaven, Highlander, and Soldier of Fortune, Inc. [2] He has also written stage adaptations of Terms of Endearment and Rain Man,[3][4] and novels based on his screenplays as well as his own experiences fighting in the Gaza War.[5]


Early lifeEdit

Dan Gordon was born in Southern California, to a Jewish family. He grew up in Bell Gardens, CA, and at 16 went to Israel where he attended high school at the Ginegar kibbutz.[5][6] After High School he returned to Southern California, and studied at East LA Junior College for a year, before transferring to UCLA as a film and television major.[7]

Film and Television careerEdit

While at UCLA, Dan pitched a one-act play he had written, Once I Was, as a film to Universal Studios, and they hired him as a writer. But he was fired by Studio Chair Lew Wasserman for stealing office supplies.[7]

In 1971, Gordon began directing the film Potluck, based on a screenplay he had written. They shot the film guerrilla style in New York, without obtaining film permits. As Gordon soon discovered, the film's independent financiers were Mafia-connected. Although the film was coming in under its $100,000 budget, they claimed the financing had dried up. Gordon and his collaborators tried to raise the funds to finish the film, but the Mafia needed the film to fail, as part of a money laundering scheme. The film was never finished.[7]

Fearing the Mafia, due to the fallout from trying to make Potluck, Gordon fled to Israel, where he served in the Israeli Army. After more than a decade, Gordon returned to Hollywood to continue his screenwriting career in the early 1980s.[7]

Gordon was hired to be the head writer for the TV Show Highway to Heaven (1984–88), for which he also directed three episodes. He wanted to write for both Film and Television, which was uncommon at the time.[7] Gordon went on to write numerous screenplays including Passenger 57 (1992), Wyatt Earp (1994), Murder in the First (1995), The Assignment (1997) and The Hurricane (1999).[6] Gordon's most recent work includes a "story by" credit for Rambo: Last Blood (2019).[1]

His play, Irena's Vow, premiered at the Baruch Performing Arts Center, New York, in September 2008. Starring Tovah Feldshuh, it is the true story of Irena Gut, who hid twelve Jews in a cellar during World War II.[8] The play opened on Broadway at the Walter Kerr Theatre in previews starting March 10, 2009, officially March 29, 2009, with the same cast from off-Broadway.[9] His stage adaptation of Barry Morrow's Rain Man premiered at the Apollo Theatre in London's West End in 2009, and was subsequently performed in Prague (Czech Republic), Stuttgart (Germany), Brussels (Belgium) and Utrecht (The Netherlands).

The Zaki Gordon Institute (ZGI)Edit

Gordon is the co-founder of the Zaki Gordon Institute (ZGI), a film school in Sedona, Arizona. The institute is named for his eldest son, Zaki Gordon, who died in a traffic accident in 1998 at the age of 22 years. Gordon taught part-time at the institute. He also teaches at Columbia University School of the Arts, USC School of Cinematic Arts and UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television,[10] to which he donates an annual $5,000 prize to screenwriting students in honor of his son.[11]

In 2012, he left the Zaki Gordon Institute after founding the Zaki Gordon Center for Cinematic Arts at Liberty University in 2011.[12] After Gordon left, The Zaki Gordon Institute, in Arizon, changed its name to the Sedona Film School.[13] Gordon was also a close friend of Tim Buckley, collaborating with him on an unfilmed movie script called "Fully Air-conditioned Inside."[14] He also played the role of a homeless man in the independent film. Waiting for Mo (1996), which he produced with his son, Zaki, who wrote and directed the film.

He has been a member of the Directors Guild of America since 1985.

Military careerEdit

Gordon joined the Israeli Army in the early 1970s. He served for almost a decade, including during the Yom Kippur War of 1973.[7]

He served as an escort officer in the Military Spokesperson’s Unit during the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict.[15]

He is a captain in the Israel Defense Forces Reserves.[6]

Personal lifeEdit

Gordon married his wife Jo-Ann while he was in Israel (and they divorced in 1995). They have three sons Zaki, Yoni and Adam. Zaki, his eldest, died in a traffic accident in 1998 at the age of 22. During the summer of 2019, Gordon married Leah Denmark in Rome in a small private ceremony.

Gordon is Jewish, and has acted as a keynote speaker at Jewish and Christian religious conferences.[16]



  • Wyatt Earp (1994)
  • Murder in the First (1994)
  • The Assignment (1997)
  • Davin (with Zaki Gordon) (1997)
  • Postcards from Heaven (2010)
  • Day of the Dead: Book One - Gaza (2015)
  • Day of the Dead: Book Two - America (2016)


  • Terms of Endearment (2007)
  • Irena's Vow (2008)
  • Rain Man (2009)
  • Murder in the First (2012)


  1. ^ a b "Main Title Draft 1z9.pdf" (PDF). Dropbox. Retrieved 2019-09-14.
  2. ^ "Dan Gordon". IMDb. Retrieved 2019-09-14.
  3. ^ "Theatre Review (London): Rain Man (Adapted for the Stage by Dan Gordon)". Blogcritics. Retrieved 2017-03-27.
  4. ^ "Dan Gordon". Simon & Schuster. Retrieved 2017-03-27.
  5. ^ a b A Hollywood Screenwriter Experiences the Real Gaza War, The Hollywood Reporter, October 3, 2014.
  6. ^ a b c 'Gaza Wars Veteran, 17-Old Documentarian Among Guests For Temple of the Arts Yom Kippur Services', The Beverly Hills Courier, October 03, 2014, Vol. XXXXVIIII, No. 39, p. 13
  7. ^ a b c d e f Harris, Blake. HDTGM: The Sketchiest Movie Ever (Kinda) Made: A Tale of Mobsters, Money-Laundering & Movie-Making, Slashfilm.com, March 1, 2017.
  8. ^ Hampton, Willborn. Review: Hiding Innocents and Keeping Evil at Bay, The New York Times, September 26, 2008.
  9. ^ Gans, Andrew. Feldshuh to Return to Broadway in March in Irena's Vow Archived 2008-12-25 at the Wayback Machine, playbill.com, December 22, 2008.
  10. ^ "Dan Gordon". Biography on the Faculty page of the ZGI website. Retrieved 2006-10-23.
  11. ^ "Father honors son's memory with screenwriting award". Article by Jun Okada in the Daily Bruin. Archived from the original on 2005-01-01. Retrieved 2006-10-23.
  12. ^ Bible, Mitzi (2 May 2011). "Liberty to add Zaki Gordon Center for the Cinematic Arts". Liberty University News Service. Retrieved 22 August 2013.
  13. ^ "Zaki Gordon Becomes Sedona Film School". Archived from the original on 4 September 2012. Retrieved 22 August 2013.
  14. ^ "Mary Guibert's Room 109 Chat Session". timbuckleyandfriends. 1999-05-05. Archived from the original on 2009-09-01. Retrieved 2009-06-25.
  15. ^ "Soldiers, Dogs and Mosques". CaliforniaRepublic.org blog. 2006-09-01. Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. Retrieved 2006-10-23.
  16. ^ "Dan Gordon - Christian Speaker - Israeli Defense Force Captain, Sniper and Screenwriter". outreach.com. Retrieved 2017-03-27.

External linksEdit