‘Offensive’: Beverly theater apologizes to patrons for remarks by ‘Jaws’ actor Richard Dreyfuss

BEVERLY, Mass. — A Beverly theater is apologizing for alleged controversial remarks made by “Jaws” actor, civics advocate and author Richard Dreyfuss over the weekend.

Dreyfuss, 76, reportedly said the controversial remarks during a question-and-answer session at The Cabot theater in Beverly on Saturday night. The Oscar-winning actor was at the theater for a special screening of the 1975 blockbuster film Jaws, which vaulted his film career.

Dreyfuss is said to have made sexist remarks while discussing Barbra Streisand, discussed the Academy Awards’ new inclusivity rules and also talked about transgender children, according to social media posts from event attendees.

One attendee wrote on Facebook that “he was talking about Audrey Hepburn and Barbra Streisand and the misogyny in Hollywood and he proceeded to say that he also didn’t believe that 10-year-olds were able to choose their own gender because they were too young and people started booing him and walked out so he didn’t get to finish his statement.”

While video of Dreyfuss’ alleged controversial comments has not surfaced, one video shows audience members applauding Dreyfuss at the end of the question-and-answer session, while he spoke about the dangers of removing civics education from schools.

In a statement to patrons, The Cabot did not specify exactly what Dreyfuss said, but added that his comments were “not in line” with the theater’s “values of inclusivity.”

“We deeply regret that Mr. Dreyfuss’s comments during the event were not in line with the values of inclusivity we uphold at The Cabot,” the theater said in a statement. “We understand that his remarks were distressing and offensive to many of our community members, and for that, we sincerely apologize.”

“At The Cabot, we are committed to fostering a welcoming and inclusive environment for all members of our community. The views expressed by Mr. Dreyfuss do not reflect our beliefs, and we do not endorse them in any way,” the theater statement said.

“We take full responsibility for the oversight in not anticipating the direction of the conversation and for any discomfort caused,” the statement concluded.

Boston 25 has reached out to Dreyfuss for comment.

Some patrons took to social media to comment on the theater event.

“Tonight’s activity - 50th anniversary viewing of Jaws at Beverly’s beautiful Cabot theater. Starting with an hour of Q&A with Richard Dreyfus (sic),” Peter McNamee wrote in a Facebook post on Saturday night. “Should have been fun, but what a disappointment. Dreyfus (sic) is a pathetic clown and an intolerant jerk. We left after 20 minutes.”

“I went to see Richard Dreyfuss for a talk and special screening of Jaws in Beverly tonight at The Cabot,” Sarah Elizabeth wrote on Facebook on Saturday night. “Dreyfuss spewed absolutely vile, dehumanizing, abhorrent things about trans youth, LGBTQ+ people, women, and survivors of sexual violence. I feel so much pain for any trans youth in the audience.”

“He didn’t go on a hate filled racist, homophobia, sexist rant like some people have said. He made reference to how Barbara (sic) Streisand was considered difficult because she wasn’t submissive during a time when women were supposed to be submissive. He said the Academy was a bunch of bigots and wouldn’t give out an Oscar to a foreigner,” Diane Wagar Vadala wrote on Facebook. “That was all he mentioned on race. Somehow all of this got turned into that he is racist, homophobic, sexist, misogynistic, egotistical….blah blah blah. People looked to be hurt and offended at every word.”

Saturday’s incident, ironically, happened a few days prior to another event planned at The Cabot on Tuesday titled, “How discrimination shows up in our community and what we can do about it,” according to the theater’s website.

Last May, Dreyfuss slammed the Oscars’ new diversity and inclusion requirements and said ‘they make me vomit,’ The Daily Mail reported.

Dreyfuss is a staunch advocate for civics education in American schools.

In 2022, he published the book, “One Thought Scares Me...: We Teach Our Children What We Wish Them to Know; We Don’t Teach Our Children What We Don’t Wish Them to Know.”

The book has garnered several positive reviews on Amazon; one reviewer wrote, “This book is an eye opener to where our country is today. It is written without political judgment but with the ability to think where we came from and where we want to go. I would like to see this book as mandatory reading in high school.”

In 2008, Dreyfuss founded The Dreyfuss Civics Initiative, a nonprofit, non-partisan organization which “aims to revive the teaching of civics in American public education to empower future generations with the critical-thinking skills they need to fulfill the vast potential of American citizenship,” according to the group’s website.

The nonprofit’s programs “promote the advancement of civic education, civic virtue, and the role citizens can play in the success of the United States,” according to its website.

Prior to starting the nonprofit, the actor-turned-scholar worked as a senior research advisor at St. Antony’s College in Oxford, England, where he studied the decline of civics education.

In an interview with radio and television host Michael Smerconish last July, Dreyfuss, whose parents “were very, very, very much to the left,” spoke about being excluded from some public discourse.

“I’ve been somewhere between a Communist and a liberal and a centrist my entire life, and I’m beyond shocked that the party that I grew up in is completely ignoring not just me, but the subject of civics as if it’s of no import whatsoever,” Dreyfuss said at the time. “And the political party that gives up civics as an important subject is going to cause the end of America.”

His film career spans decades, and includes several memorable hits such as American Graffiti, Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Stand by Me, Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Always, What About Bob?, Stakeout, The American President, and Mr. Holland’s Opus.

Dreyfuss won the 1978 Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in the film, The Goodbye Girl.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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