Jerry Zaks (born September 7, 1946) is a German-born American stage and television director, and actor. He won the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play and Drama Desk Award for directing The House of Blue Leaves, Lend Me A Tenor, and Six Degrees of Separation and the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical and Drama Desk Award for Guys and Dolls.
Zaks was born in Stuttgart, Germany, the son of Holocaust survivors. His family emigrated to the United States in 1948, finally settling in East Paterson, New Jersey. He graduated from Dartmouth College and received a Master of Fine Arts from Smith College.
He made his Broadway acting debut in the original production of Grease as "Kenickie" and appeared in Tintypes in 1980. He made his directing debut in 1981 with the off-Broadway production of Christopher Durang's Beyond Therapy. He has directed many Broadway productions, both musicals and dramas. He has also directed many off-Broadway productions, several at Playwrights Horizons and the Public Theatre. He directed the City Center Encores! productions of Girl Crazy (November 2009), Stairway to Paradise (May 2007), and Bye Bye Birdie (May 2004).
He is the director of the new musical 101 Dalmatians, which toured the United States from October 2009 through April 2010. Zaks was named creative consultant for the new musical The Addams Family, which opened on Broadway in April 2010. He has been confirmed to direct the Broadway production of Sister Act: the Musical, which will open in Spring 2011.
As a film actor, Zaks' screen credits include Outrageous Fortune, Crimes and Misdemeanors, and Husbands and Wives. On television he has appeared in M*A*S*H and The Edge of Night and directed episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond, Frasier, Hope and Faith, and Two and a Half Men, among others. He also directed the feature films Marvin's Room and Who Do You Love?.
He received the George Abbott Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theater in 1994 and an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Dartmouth College in 1999.