Josef Sommer, also known as Maximilian Josef Sommer, was born June 26, 1934, in Greifswald, Germany, but grew up in North Carolina. Sommer appeared in his first community play when he was nine years old. He attended the Carnegie Institute of Technology, before attending the American Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Connecticut where Sommer trained to become an actor. After completing his actor training, he joined the Seattle Repertory Theater company and performed with them for several years. His broadway debut came in 1970 followed closely by his film debut, which was in the 1971 film Dirty Harry. Other films he has appeared in include Witness, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Moonlight and Valentino. Sommer has been cast as a character actor in over 100 separate roles. For these roles, he is usually cast as either a corrupt politician or a dirty businessman. He has played an American President in three separate roles, and a fictional President one other.