Dan Gordon graduated from UCLA as a film and television major, and went on to write screenplays including Passenger 57 (1992), Wyatt Earp (1994), Murder in the First (1995), The Assignment (1997) and The Hurricane (1999) (the story of boxer Rubin Carter), as well as several novels.
His play, Irena's Vow, premiered at the Baruch Performing Arts Center, New York, in September 2008. Starring Tovah Feldshuh, it is the true story of Irena Gut, who hid twelve Jews in a cellar during World War II. The play is scheduled to open on Broadway at the Walter Kerr Theatre in previews starting March 10, 2009, officially March 29, 2009, with the same cast from off-Broadway.
Gordon is also a co-founder of the Zaki Gordon Institute (ZGI), a film school in Sedona, Arizona. The institute is named for his eldest son, Zaki Gordon, who died in a traffic accident in 1998 at the age of 22 years. Gordon teaches part-time at the institute, which also offers courses online and on DVD. He also teaches at Columbia University School of the Arts, USC School of Cinematic Arts and UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television, to which he donates an annual $5,000 prize to screenwriting students in honour of his son.
A dual Israeli-American citizen, Gordon served in the Israeli Army as a young man, is a captain in the Israel Defense Forces Reserves, and served as an escort officer in the Military Spokesperson’s Unit during the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict.
Gordon was also a close friend of Tim Buckley, collaborating with him on an unfilmed movie script called "Fully Airconditioned Inside."
Gordon played the role of a homeless man in the independent film Waiting for Mo (1996), which he produced with his son, Zaki, who wrote and directed the film.
He has been a member of the Directors Guild of America since 1985.