Dennis Haysbert (born June 2, 1954 in San Mateo, California) is an African-American film and television actor perhaps best known for his role as David Palmer from the American television show 24. After high school, Dennis, measuring 6'4" tall, was offered various sports scholarships, but instead he chose to study acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. He is the eighth of nine children.
Haysbert has been acting in film and television since 1979 with a guest role in The White Shadow. His television guest starring roles include "Lou Grant", Laverne & Shirley, The A-Team, Magnum, P.I., and Duckman. On film, Haysbert has appeared in Absolute Power, Random Hearts and Far From Heaven among others. In 1989, Haysbert portrayed Pedro Cerrano, a voodoo-practicing baseball player in the movie Major League, in which he uttered the memorable line: "It is very bad to steal Jobu's rum. Very bad". In 1992, Haysbert co-starred with Michelle Pfeiffer in Love Field, a film about the assassination and funeral of President John F. Kennedy. In 1999, Haysbert starred with Eric Close in Now and Again, which was cancelled after its first season. In 2004, Haysbert began appearing in Allstate commercials during episodes of 24.
In 2001, Haysbert became more well-known when he was cast in 24 playing the African-American Senator (later President) David Palmer. He maintained his status as a cast member through seasons two and three. As a guest star, he appeared in the last six episodes of season 4 and the first episode of season 5.
In addition to television and film acting, Haysbert has also done voice work for various video games, most notably Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell series and Call of Duty: Finest Hour.
Currently, Haysbert is the official spokesman for Allstate Insurance company. His repeated phrase for the company's commercials is "Are you in good hands?" His subsequent television work includes the role of Jonas Blane in CBS's special forces drama The Unit.
Haysbert is also the voice on The Military Channel's network tag saying....."The Military Channel -- Go Behind The Lines".
On March 4th, Haysbert guest starred on Saturday Night Live. He hosted a "Belated Black History Moment" segment, featuring fictional African-American cartoons which failed to make an impact in the 90's.
In his biggest role to date, he will be playing Nelson Mandela in Goodbye Bafana (2006).
He is divorced and the father of two.