Some seriously funny comedy actors throughout the years. Hilarious - when they want to be. Alphabetically.
Long acknowledged as one of the best "straight men" in the business, Bud Abbott was born William Alexander Abbott in Asbury Park, New Jersey, to Rae (Fisher) and Harry Abbott, who had both worked for the Barnum and Bailey Circus. He himself worked in carnivals while still a child and dropped out of school in 1909...
Don Adams was born in New York, to a father of Hungarian Jewish descent, and a mother of German and Irish ancestry. He had a sister, Gloria, and a brother, Dick Yarmy
. He served in the U.S. Marines in World War II and contracted malaria during the fighting on Guadalcanal island. After the war he began a career as a stand-up comic...
Jason Greenspan adopted the stage name Jason Alexander while still in high school in New Jersey. He was soon appearing in Broadway plays and movies, then in the hit TV series, Seinfeld
, from 1990 to 1998. Alexander also directs and produces films.
Timothy Allen Dick was born on June 13, 1953, in Denver, Colorado, USA, to Martha Katherine (Fox) and Gerald M. Dick. His father, a real-estate salesman, was killed in a collision with a drunk driver while driving his family home from a University of Colorado football game, when Tim was eleven years old...
Woody Allen was born Allan Stewart Konigsberg on December 1, 1935 in Brooklyn, New York, to Nettie (Cherrie), a bookkeeper, and Martin Konigsberg, a waiter and jewellery engraver. His father was of Russian Jewish descent, and his maternal grandparents were Austrian Jewish immigrants. As a young boy...
Jason Greenspan adopted the stage name Jason Alexander while still in high school in New Jersey. He was soon appearing in Broadway plays and movies, then in the hit TV series, Seinfeld
, from 1990 to 1998. Alexander also directs and produces films.
Alan Arkin is an Academy Award-winning American actor who is also an acclaimed director, producer, author, singer and composer. He was born Alan Wolf Arkin on March 26, 1934, in Brooklyn, New York. His family were Jewish immigrants from Russia and Germany. In 1946 the Arkins moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles...
Ed Asner is a television legend, the winner of seven acting Emmy Awards (which puts him tied with Mary Tyler Moore
, both of whom rank second to their "Mary Tyler Moore
Show" co-star, Cloris Leachman
who has nine). In all, he has been nominated 20 times for an Emmy Award, with 17 nods for a Primetime Emmy and three for a Daytime award...
Dark haired, usually mustachioed US actor with a cheeky grin who achieved pop culture status through his portrayal of the kooky patriarch "Gomez Addams" in the hit TV series The Addams Family
, John Astin was born March 30, 1930, in Baltimore, MD. He attended Johns Hopkins University and studied mathematics...
Rowan Sebastian Atkinson was born on 6 January, 1955, in Consett, Co. Durham, UK, to Ella May (Bainbridge) and Eric Atkinson. His father owned a farm, where Rowan grew up with his two older brothers, Rupert and Rodney. He attended Newcastle University and Oxford University where he earned degrees in electrical engineering...
Daniel Edward Aykroyd was born on July 1, 1952 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, to Lorraine Hélène (Gougeon), a secretary from a French-Canadian family, and Samuel Cuthbert Peter Hugh Aykroyd, a civil engineer who advised prime minister Pierre Trudeau
. Aykroyd attended Carleton University in 1969, where he majored in Criminology and Sociology...
Jim Backus was born James Gilmore Backus on February 25, 1913 in Cleveland, Ohio. He was one of the few actors to do it all: radio, Broadway, movies, television and cartoons. After attending preparatory school in his hometown Cleveland, Backus enrolled at the American Academy of Dramatic Art, to ply his trade...
Raven-haired, suavely handsome and prolific actor Alec Baldwin was born on April 3, 1958 in Massapequa, New York, and is the oldest, and easily the best-known, of the four Baldwin brothers in the acting business (the others are Stephen Baldwin
, William Baldwin
and Daniel Baldwin
). Baldwin is the son of Carol Newcomb (Martineau) and Alexander Rae Baldwin...
Jay Baruchel was born in Ottawa, Ontario, and was raised in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He is the son of Robyne (Ropell), a freelance writer, and Serge Victor Baruchel, an antiques dealer. He has a younger sister who also acts. He started acting in 1995 when he made his first of three appearances on the hit show Are You Afraid of the Dark?
Jason Bateman is an American film and television actor best known for his role as Michael Bluth on the television sitcom Arrested Development
, as well as his role on Valerie
. He was born in Rye, New York, USA. His father, Kent Bateman
, from a Utah-based family, is a film and television director...
John Belushi was born in Chicago, Illinois, USA, on January 24, 1949, to Agnes Demetri (Samaras) and Adam Anastos Belushi, a restaurant owner. His father was an Albanian immigrant, from Qytezë, and his mother was also of Albanian descent. He grew up in Wheaton, where the family moved when he was six...
The son of a saloonkeeper, Jack Benny (born Benny Kubelsky) began to study the violin at the age six, and his "ineptness" at it later become his trademark (in reality, he was a very accomplished player). When given the opportunity to play in live theatre professionally, Benny quit school and joined vaudeville...
Milton Berle was born Milton Berlinger on July 12, 1908, in New York City. He was educated at New York Professional Children's School and began performing at age 5. His first stage appearance was in "Florodora" in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He appeared at the Palace Theater in New York in 1931, then in nightclubs and theaters...
The son of a sales clerk and a department store owner, Bill Bixby was the sixth-generation Californian born as Wilfred Bailey Bixby, on January 22, 1934, in San Francisco, California. An only child growing up in the 1940s and 1950s, he attended schools in the same area, took ballroom dance lessons, before attending Lowell High School...
Jack Black was born Thomas Jacob Black in Santa Monica, California, to Judith Love (Cohen) and Thomas William Black, both satellite engineers. He is of British-German (father) and Russian Jewish (mother) ancestry. Black attended the University of California at Los Angeles. While at UCLA, he was a member...
Mel Blanc, known as "The Man of Thousand Voices" is generally regarded as the most prolific actor to ever work in Hollywood. He developed and performed nearly 400 distinct character voices with precision and a unique expressive vocal range. A legendary voice specialist from radio programs, television series...
A bold, blunt instrument of hatred and violence at the onset of his film career, Peter Boyle recoiled from that repugnant, politically incorrect "working class" image to eventually play gruff, gentler bears and even comedy monsters in a career that lasted four decades. He was born on October 18, 1935...
Russell Brand was born on June 4, 1975, in Grays, Essex, England, the son of Barbara Elizabeth (Nichols) and Ronald Henry Brand, a photographer. An only child, his parents divorced when he was only six months old, and he was subsequently raised by his mother. Enduring a difficult childhood that saw...
In many ways the most successful and familiar character actor of American sound films and the only actor to date to win three Oscars for Best Supporting Actor, Walter Brennan attended college in Cambridge, Massachusetts, studying engineering. While in school he became interested in acting and performed in school plays...
The star of many land and underwater adventures, Lloyd Vernet Bridges, Jr. was born on January 15, 1913 in San Leandro, California, to Harriet Evelyn (Brown) and Lloyd Vernet Bridges, Sr., who owned a movie theater and also worked in the hotel business. He grew up in various Northern California towns...
A slight comic actor chiefly known for his boyish charm, Matthew Broderick was born on March 21, 1962 in New York City, to Patricia Broderick
(née Biow), a playwright and painter, and James Broderick
, an actor. His father had Irish and English ancestry, and his mother was from a Jewish family (from Germany and Poland)...
Melvin James Kaminsky was born on June 28th, 1926 in Brooklyn, New York. He served in WWII, and afterwards got a job playing the drums at nightclubs in the Catskills. Brooks eventually started a comedy act and also worked in radio and as Master Entertainer at Grossinger's Resort before going to television...
Candy was one of Canada's greatest and funniest character actors. His well-known role as the big hearted buffoon earned him classics in Uncle Buck
and Planes, Trains & Automobiles
. His career has handed him some dry spells but Candy always rebounded. Born in Newmarket, Ontario, in the year 1950, Candy was the son of Evangeline (Aker) and Sidney James Candy...
Steve Carell, one of America's most versatile comics, was born Steven John Carell on August 16, 1962, in Concord, Massachusetts. He is the son of Harriet T. (Koch), a psychiatric nurse, and Edwin A. Carell, an electrical engineer. His mother is of Polish descent and his father is of Italian and German ancestry (Steve's grandfather had changed the surname from "Caroselli" to "Carrell")...
Born and raised by his mother in Manhattan, New York City. His parents divorced when he was two months. His mother (as well as his father) worked in marketing, where they met. The long hours the mother worked left the young George by himself for long hours every day, providing him (in his own words)...
Jim Carrey, Canadian-born and a U.S. citizen since 2004, is an actor and producer famous for his rubbery body movements and flexible facial expressions. The two-time Golden Globe-winner rose to fame as a cast member of the Fox sketch comedy In Living Color
but leading roles in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
, Dumb & Dumber
and The Mask
established him as a bankable comedy actor...
Johnny Carson, the legendary "King of Late Night TV" who dominated the medium's nether hours for three decades, was born in Corning, Iowa, but moved with his family to nearby Norfolk, Nebraska when he was eight years old. It was in Norfolk, where he lived until he was inducted into the US Navy in 1943...
One of SNL's most talented alumni, comedian Dana Carvey reigned supreme during his six-season run creating some of the show's most memorable characters, including "Church Lady", "Garth" of Wayne & Garth fame, Grumpy Old Man and bodybuilding "Hans" of Hans & Franz notoriety. So it is quite bewildering that this sharp and witty writer...
Canadian actor Michael Cera was born in Brampton, Ontario, to parents who worked for Xerox. His mother, Linda, who is from Quebec, has English, Irish, Scottish, and Dutch ancestry, and his father, Luigi Cera, is Sicilian. Michael is the middle child between two sisters. He was educated at Conestoga Public School...
Hong Kong's cheeky, lovable and best known film star, Jackie Chan endured many years of long, hard work and multiple injuries to establish international success via his early beginnings in Hong Kong's manic martial arts cinema industry. Jackie was born Kong-sang Chan on Hong Kong's famous Victoria Peak on April 7...
Charlie Chaplin, considered to be one of the most pivotal stars of the early days of Hollywood, lived an interesting life both in his films and behind the camera. He is most recognized as an icon of the silent film era, often associated with his popular "Little Tramp" character; the man with the toothbrush mustache, bowler hat, bamboo cane, and a funny walk...
Graham Chapman was born on January 8, 1941 in Leicester, England while a Germain air raid was in progress. Graham's father was a chief police inspector and probably inspired the constables Graham often portrayed later in comedy sketches. Graham studied medicine in college and earned an M.D., but he practiced medicine for only a few years...
Chevy Chase was born Cornelius Crane Chase in Lower Manhattan, New York, to Cathalene Parker (Browning), a concert pianist and librettist, and Edward Tinsley "Ned" Chase, an editor and writer. His parents both came from prominent families, and his grandfathers were artist and illustrator Edward Leigh Chase and admiral Miles Browning...
John Cleese was born on October 27, 1939, in Weston-Super-Mare, England, to Muriel Evelyn (Cross) and Reginald Francis Cleese. He was born into a family of modest means, his father being an insurance salesman; but he was nonetheless sent off to private schools to obtain a good education. Here he was often tormented for his height...
Funny man Tim Conway was born on December 15th, 1933 in Willioughby, Ohio. He was a fraternity man at Bowling Green State University, served in the army, and started his career working for a radio station. Conway got into comedy when he started writing and performing comedy skits between morning movies on CBS...
Bill Cosby is one of the world's most well-known entertainers and comedians. William Henry Cosby, Jr. was born on July 12, 1937, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Anna Pearl (Hite), a maid, and William Henry Cosby, Sr., a U.S. Navy sailor. After tenth grade, Cosby joined the Navy and completed high school through a correspondence course...
Lou Costello was born Louis Francis Cristillo in Paterson, New Jersey, to Helen (Rege) and Sebastiano Cristillo. His father was from Calabria, Italy, and his mother was an American of Italian, French, and Irish ancestry. Raised in Paterson, Costello dropped out of high school and headed west to break into the movies...
Wally Cox was a beloved character actor who made his mark in television and ranks as one of the medium's most memorable performers. His ability to show his range likely was limited by his short stature, slight frame, and high-pitched voice, which along with his talent for being very funny, made him ideal for comedy parts such as his memorable turn as Professor P...
Richard Donald Crenna was born in Los Angeles, California, into a modest-income family, the only child of Edith J. (Pollette) and Domenick Anthony Crenna, a pharmacist. His parents were both of Italian descent. His mother managed a small hotel in downtown Los Angeles, where Richard and his family resided...
Billy Crystal was born on March 14, 1948 in Long Beach, Long Island, New York. He is the youngest of three sons born to Helen (Gabler) and Jack Crystal. His father was a well-known concert promoter who co-founded Commodore Records and his mother was a homemaker. His family were Jewish immigrants from Russia...
Effective light comedian of '30s and '40s films and '50s and '60s TV series, Robert Cummings was renowned for his eternally youthful looks (which he attributed to a strict vitamin and health-food diet). He was educated at Carnegie Tech and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Deciding that Broadway producers would be more interested in an upper-crust Englishman than a kid from Joplin...
Rodney Dangerfield was born Jacob Cohen on November 22, 1921 in Deer Park, Suffolk County, Long Island, New York. He was the son of Dorothy "Dotty" (Teitelbaum) and Phillip Cohen, who performed in vaudeville under the name Phil Roy. His father was born in New York, to Russian Jewish parents, and his mother was a Hungarian Jewish immigrant...
As might be said for the late and great comedians Harvey Korman
and Madeline Kahn
, it seems that Mel Brooks
was the only director on the planet who knew how to best utilize this funnyman's talents on film. Brooks once quipped that, whenever he hired Dom DeLuise for one of his films, he would...
Bob Denver was attending college at Loyola-Marymount University, in Los Angeles, when he got into acting. At first, Denver wasn't sure he wanted to be an actor, but gradually gave in, deciding that's what he was going to do for a career. Before he became established, he worked as a mailman and teacher...
Johnny Depp is perhaps one of the most versatile actors of his day and age in Hollywood. He was born John Christopher Depp II in Owensboro, Kentucky, on June 9, 1963, to Betty Sue (Wells), who worked as a waitress, and John Christopher Depp, a civil engineer. Depp was raised in Florida. He dropped out of school when he was 15...
Born into a show business family, DeRita began performing at the age of 7. He played the Burlesque circuit until 1942 when he went to headline in California stage shows. He toured with Randolph Scott
and Bing Crosby
for the USO during World War II. Joe made his film debut in "The Doughgirls" (1944) and continued to perform in films...
Rotund comic character actor of American films. Born Andrew Vabre Devine in Flagstaff, Arizona, the later-to-be Rotund comic character actor was raised in nearby Kingman, Arizona, the son of Irish-American hotel operator Thomas Devine and his wife Amy. Devine was an able athlete as a student and actually played semi-pro football under a phony name (Jeremiah Schwartz...
Danny DeVito has amassed a formidable and versatile body of work as an actor, producer and director that spans the stage, television and film. Daniel Michael DeVito Jr. was born on November 17, 1944, in Neptune, New Jersey, to Italian-American parents. His mother, Julia (Moccello), was a homemaker...
Robert Downey Jr.
Robert Downey Jr. has evolved into one of the most respected actors in Hollywood. With an amazing list of credits to his name, he has managed to stay new and fresh even after over four decades in the business. Downey was born April 4, 1965 in Manhattan, New York, the son of writer, director and filmographer Robert Downey Sr.
and actress Elsie Downey
(née Elsie Ann Ford)...
Buddy Ebsen began his career as a dancer in the late 1920s in a Broadway chorus. He later formed a vaudeville act with his sister Vilma Ebsen
, which also appeared on Broadway. In 1935 he and his sister went to Hollywood, where they were signed for the first of MGM's Eleanor Powell
movies, Broadway Melody of 1936
Cary Elwes was born in Westminster, London, England, the third son of interior designer/shipping heiress Tessa Georgina Kennedy and the late portrait painter Bede Evelyn Dominick Elwes. He is the brother of producer/agent Cassian Elwes
and artist Damian Elwes
. He was raised in London and attended Harrow...
Peter Michael Falk was born on September 16, 1927, in New York City, New York. At the age of 3, his right eye was surgically removed due to cancer. He graduated from Ossining High School, where he was president of his class. His early career choices involved becoming a certified public accountant, and...
"I am too old to die young, and too young to grow up," Marty Feldman told a reporter -- a week before he died. This beloved comedian, who poked fun at himself, as well as others, was born Martin Alan Feldman on July 8, 1934, in London, England. His parents were of Ukrainian Jewish heritage (from Kiev)...
By August of 1994, Craig Ferguson was established as one of Great Britain's leading comedians - he had just had huge success at the Edinburgh Festival. In January 1995 he moved to Los Angeles where he now works as an actor-writer-director-producer-creator.
John William Ferrell was born in Irvine, California, to Betty Kay (Overman), a teacher, and Roy Lee Ferrell
, Jr., a musician. His parents were both originally from Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina. A graduate of the University of Southern California, Ferrell became interested in performing while a student at University High School in Irvine...
William Claude Dukenfield was the eldest of five children born to Cockney immigrant James Dukenfield and Philadelphia native Kate Felton. He went to school for four years, then quit to work with his father selling vegetables from a horse cart. At eleven, after many fights with his alcoholic father (who hit him on the head with a shovel)...
Larry began performing as a violinist at a young age. During his teenage years, he earned his living as a singer and boxer. At 18, Larry began working vaudeville with "The Haney Sisters and Fine" and in 1925, he joined Ted Healy
and Moe Howard
in the act that would eventually become The Three Stooges
. Fine made more than 200 films before a stroke forced him to retire in 1970.
Colin Andrew Firth was born into an academic family in Grayshott, Hampshire, England. His mother, Shirley Jean (Rolles), was a comparative religion lecturer at the Open University, and his father, David Norman Lewis Firth, lectured on history at Winchester University College (formerly King Alfred's College) in Winchester...
Michael J. Fox
Michael J. Fox was born Michael Andrew Fox on June 9, 1961 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, to Phyllis Fox
(née Piper), a payroll clerk, and William Fox. His parents moved their ten-year-old son, his three sisters, Kelli Fox
, Karen, and Jacki, and his brother, Steven, to Vancouver, British Columbia...
Jamie Foxx is an American actor, singer, and comedian. He won an Academy Award for Best Actor, BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, and Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy, for his work in the 2004 biographical film Ray
. The same year, he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the action film Collateral
Brendan James Fraser was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, to Canadian parents Carol Mary (Genereux), a sales counselor, and Peter Fraser, a journalist and travel executive. He is of Irish, Scottish, German, Czech, and French-Canadian ancestry. As his parents frequently moved, Brendan can claim affinity with Ottawa...
Zach Galifianakis was born in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, to Mary Frances (Cashion), who owned a community arts center, and Harry Galifianakis, a heating oil vendor. His father is of Greek descent and his mother is of mostly English and Scottish ancestry. Zach moved to New York City after failing his last college class by one point...
Amiable and handsome James Garner had obtained success in both films and television, often playing variations of the charming anti-hero/con-man persona he first developed in Maverick, the offbeat western TV series that shot him to stardom in the late 1950s. James Garner was born James Scott Bumgarner in Norman...
Standing 6 feet 8-1/2 inches tall, Garrett grew up in Woodland Hills outside of Los Angeles. His father was a hearing aid specialist working in geriatrics and his mother was a housewife. Garrett spent a whopping six weeks at UCLA before going into stand-up comedy full time. He began performing his act at various Los Angeles comedy clubs...
Ricky Dene Gervais was born in a suburb of Reading, Berkshire, to Eva Sophia (House) and Lawrence Raymond Gervais, who was a hod carrier and labourer. His father was born in Ontario, Canada, of French-Canadian descent, and his mother was English. He was educated at Ashmead Comprehensive School and went on to study at University College, London, where he gained a degree in Philosophy...
Jack Gilford was born in Brooklyn, New York, as Yankel Gellman. He began his career in the Amateur Nights of the 1930s moving on to nightclubs as an innovative comedian doing satire and pantomime. He was a regular at the Greenwich Village nightspot, Cafe Society and hosted shows featuring Zero Mostel
Terry Gilliam was born in Minnesota near Medicine Lake. When he was 12 his family moved to Los Angeles where he became a fan of Mad magazine. In his early 20's he was often stopped by the police who often suspected him of being a drug addict and Gilliam had to explain that he worked in advertisement...
Comedian, actor, composer and conductor, educated in New York public schools. He was a master of ceremonies in amateur shows, a carnival barker, daredevil driver and a disc jockey., and later a comedian in night clubs. By the mid-1950s he had turned to writing original music and recording a series of popular and best-selling albums with his orchestra for Capitol Records...
Jeffrey Lynn Goldblum was born October 22, 1952 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, one of four children of Shirley (Temeles), a radio broadcaster who also ran an appliances firm, and Harold L. Goldblum, a doctor. His father was of Russian Jewish descent and his mother was of Austrian Jewish ancestry. Goldblum began his career on the New York stage after moving to the city at age seventeen...
Ever the curmudgeon, Gale Gordon is best known for his work in TV - and especially his long association with Lucille Ball
, having appeared in several of her series for more than two decades from 1962.
A five-time Emmy Award winner, Kelsey Grammer was born in Saint Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, to Sally (Cranmer), a singer, and Frank Allen Grammer, Jr., a musician and restaurateur. He was raised in New Jersey and Florida. Grammer was drawn to the works of William Shakespeare
and spent two years at the prestigious Juilliard School...
Cary Grant was an English actor who became an American citizen in 1942. Known for his transatlantic accent, debonair demeanor, and "dashing good looks", Grant is considered one of classic Hollywood's definitive leading men. In 1999, the American Film Institute named Grant the second greatest male star of Golden Age Hollywood cinema (after Humphrey Bogart)...
Paul Gross is the elder of two brothers. He was an Army brat; his father, Bob Gross, was a Tank Commander in the Canadian Army. As a consequence Paul and his family moved around a lot: he has lived in Canada, the U.S, England and Germany. Paul was introduced to acting in his early teens, while the Gross family was in Washington...
U.S.-born actor, director, writer, musician, and composer best known for his mockumentaries, poking fun at heavy metal music, small town theatre, dog shows, folk music and film-making itself, Christopher Haden-Guest was born February fifth, 1948, in New York City. His mother, Jean Pauline (Hindes), was a vice president of casting at CBS...