Joseph Bottoms is one of four sons of a sculptor, all of whom went into acting. Straight out of high school, Bottoms was cast in the lead role of the 1974 globe-straddling saga "The Dove," based on the real-life story of a lone sailor's five-year voyage around the world. Under the guidance of producer Gregory Peck, Bottoms portrayed the character's struggles with both nature and his own demons. Bottoms' work earned him a Golden Globe Award, but his next great dramatic turn was on television, where he appeared in the legendary 1978 mini-series " Holocaust" as a Jewish resistance fighter. That same year, Bottoms performed opposite Elizabeth Taylor in the Hallmark Hall of Fame production of "Return Engagement." Taylor herself had requested him for the role of the new student opposite her worldly-wise college professor. Bottoms again showed his passion for serious, character-based drama in 1981, when he asked his brother Timothy if he could replace him in the New York stage production of Langford Wilson's meditation on post-Vietnam-era healing, "The Fifth of July." It was Joseph Bottoms' Broadway debut. In the years that followed, Bottoms' career was mostly in television, from recurring roles in prime-time dramas like "Street Legal " to a stint on the daytime soap Santa Barbara. "Island Sons," a 1987 TV movie set in Hawaii, proved to be the only time that siblings Joseph Bottoms, Timothy Bottoms, Sam Bottoms and Ben Bottoms all worked together.
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