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Jean-Claude Van Damme
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Birth Name: Jean-Claude Van Varenberg
Birthdate: October 18, 1960
Birthplace: Brussels, Belgium
Occupations: Actor, Director, Writer, Model, Producer
Quote: "I am the Fred Astaire of karate." --Los Angeles Times, August 20, 1991
Jean-Claude Van Damme Photo

Claim to Fame: High-intensity action movies

Significant Other(s):
Wife: Maria Rodriguez; first wife; Venezuelan; born 1954; separated 1981 when Van Damme moved to the US
Wife: Cynthia Derdian; married for one year in 1985; met while he was working in her father's carpet store
Wife: Gladys Portugues, bodybuilder; married 1986; separated July 1992; divorced; reconciled after his separation from La Pier; remarried Van Damme June 1999
Wife: Darcy La Pier, model; born 1965; Hawaiian Tropic beauty-contest winner representing the state of Oregon in 1985; previously married to Hawaiian Tropic mogul Ron Rice in a highly publicized lavish wedding while still married to a man in Portland, Oregon; married Van Damme February 3, 1994; filed for divorce June 7, 1996; reconciled; filed again for divorce December 19, 1996; reconciled a second time; filed divorce petition again in November 1997, alleging Van Damme physically abused her and was addicted to drugs

Family:
Father: Eugene Van Varenberg, florist
Mother: Eliana Van Varenberg
Sibling: Has one, older
Son: Kristopher Van Damme, born 1987; mother, Gladys Portugues
Daughter: Bianca Van Damme, born October 1990; mother, Gladys Portugues
Son: Nicholas Van Damme; born October 10, 1995; mother, Darcy LaPier

Biography
The handsome, genial Van Damme won the European karate championship (earning the nickname 'The Muscles From Brussels') and made the unique contribution to the martial arts genre of executing a karate kick to his opponent's head during a leaping 360-degree turn. Van Damme began taking karate lessons as a child, then turned to body-building and ballet. He opened his own gym while still in his teens, earning a reported $15,000 a month. But movie stardom was always his goal. Van Damme made his feature acting debut in the French action film "Rue Barbare" (filmed in 1980, released in 1983) and headed for America. While learning English, he worked odd jobs and landed small roles like a gay pick-up in the short "Monaco Forever" (1984) and 'Ivan the Russian' in the low-budget action film "No Retreat, No Surrender" (1986). Van Damme was finally groomed for stardom in the inexpensive, highly marketable karate/action films "Bloodsport", "Kickboxer" and "Black Eagle" (all 1988). 5Van Damme had a very busy and profitable 1990, breaking into mainstream features as a Mountie with "Death Warrant" and received his first screenplay credit on "Lionheart", in which he also starred as a French Legionnaire avenging his brother's death. Van Damme expanded his production credits to include producer with "Double Impact" (1991), in which he played twins. "Universal Soldier" (1992), with Van Damme as a sympathetic zombie, was one of his most popular films, grossing over $100 million worldwide. He attempted to display further versatility with "Nowhere to Run" (1993) by playing a romantic character opposite Rosanna Arquette. By this time, his salary had skyrocketed to $3.5 million. But Van Damme--knowing his audience--returned to high intensity action with "Hard Target" (1993), the American directorial debut of Hong Kong action auteur John Woo. Humor leavened his next film, "Timecop" (the title pretty much explains this 1994 actioner). Later that year, he played a Colonel rescuing hostages from Raul Julia in "Street Fighter" and he saved the Stanley Cup finals from a terrorist in "Sudden Death" (1995). More of the same followed with Van Damme's directorial debut, "The Quest" (1996) and two teamings with Hong Kong director Tsui Hark, "Double Team" (1997) and "Knock Off" (1998)

Awards:
Won the European Professional Karate Association's middleweight championship in his late teens

Factoids:
His fight scenes are so intense that he won't film them in the U.S. for fear of being sued

Education:
Dropped out of school at age 16
Karate with Dominique Valera
Ballet for five years after taking karate

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