Posted by: Loren Coleman on May 29th, 2006
Known and remembered for his dozens of character roles, such as the angry high school principal in The Breakfast Club to the teacher in National Lampoon’s Van Wilder, actor Paul Gleason, 67, died May 27, 2006.
Shortly before his death, Gleason appeared as the no-nonsense disbelieving Sheriff Halderman in Ryan Schifrin’s Abominable (2006), which aired in May 2006, on the SciFi Channel. He is shown in the role drinking from a cup with part of the slogan he made famous from this line: "Don’t mess with the bull, young man. You’ll get the horns."– Principal Vernon in The Breakfast Club.
A native of Miami, Gleason was an avid athlete. Reportedly, after high school, he signed a minor league contract with the Cleveland Indians, then spent two and a half years in the Indians and Boston Red Sox farm systems in the late 1950s. However, he never reached the major leagues. He was a football player at Florida State University, before graduating in 1966, and turning to acting.
Gleason fine-tuned his acting skills with his mentor Lee Strasberg, whom he studied with at the Actors Studio beginning in the 1960s. No doubt he knew Strasberg’s daughter, Susan, one of the stars of the 1974 classic film, The Legend of Hillbilly John.
Cause of death was due to mesothelioma, a rare form of lung cancer linked to asbestos. He was born Paul Xavier Gleason on May 4, 1939, in Jersey City, New Jersey.