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Dana Carvey Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trivia (18) | Personal Quotes (4) | Salary (1)

Overview (3)

Date of Birth 2 June 1955Missoula, Montana, USA
Birth NameDana Thomas Carvey
Height 5' 8" (1.73 m)

Mini Bio (1)

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, actor and impressionist failed to hatch a successful career in films as some of his SNL cohorts -- Mike Myers, Adam Sandler and Chris Farley -- left to do.

The slightly-built, slightly dorky-looking funny guy was born in 1955 in Missoula, Montana, to Billie Dahl (McDonald) and Bud Carvey. He is of Norwegian, and smaller amounts of English, German, Swedish, and Irish, ancestry. Carvey was raised in San Carlos, California in typical middle class surroundings. His father taught high school business law and his mother, who was also a schoolteacher, had creative outlets as a painter and musician that inspired the young Dana. His gift for inducing laughter arrived at any early age. As young as 9 or 10, Dana was already mimicking characters he saw on TV, with one of his early icons being Jonathan Winters. His musical gifts came in the form of drums and guitar.

While majoring in Communication Arts at San Francisco State, Dana sought out the comedy stage doing standard impressions of well-known personalities such as John Wayne, Howard Cosell and James Stewart. Within a few months he was beginning to win stand-up comedy awards. In time, however, he replaced his impersonations with self-created characterizations and such ripe forms as the Church ("Isn't that special!") Lady were the result.

After playing various Bay Area comedy venues, Dana decided to relocate to Los Angeles in 1981 and give Hollywood a try. He quickly landed a development deal with NBC. While playing a straight foil to Mickey Rooney wasn't exactly his cup of tea, it did break him into series work as Rooney's grandson in the short-lived sitcom One of the Boys (1982). Mickey played a hip, energetic grandpa who is invited to move out of his retirement home and into the cool pad of his college-student grandson and his roommate (played by another up-and-comer, Nathan Lane).

Dana joined the repertory company of Saturday Night Live (1975) in 1986, and the result was spectacular, helping to reverse the show's decline in popularity at the time. With his sharp, quicksilver characters and uncanny ability to exaggerate dead-on impersonations of the rich and famous -- from politicos George Bush and Ross Perot to entertainment's Johnny Carson, Woody Allen and Regis Philbin, Dana became the darling of the SNL set for six solid seasons. He was nominated six times for an Emmy Award, finally winning in 1993 for "Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program", and also won multiple American Comedy Awards.

In the meantime he also sought out comedy film vehicles to extend his stardom, following the pathway of other successful post-SNL comics, but came up surprisingly short. In his first comedy vehicle Opportunity Knocks (1990), he unleashed his typical bag of tricks (dialects, impressions, etc.) in a tale about a con artist who falls for the daughter of one of his wealthy dupes. Audience reception was mild. Clean Slate (1994) was a retread of Bill Murray's earlier Groundhog Day (1993) about a detective who awakens every morning without any recall. Again, mild. Given a thankless role in The Road to Wellville (1994), which was not even his vehicle, the film Trapped in Paradise (1994) had him joining former SNL Jon Lovitz in another dispiriting comedy.

Dana's best results on film came in tandem with Mike Myers in which the duo recreated their memorable "party-on" dudes Wayne and Garth from the famous SNL sketches. Wayne's World (1992) and its sequel Wayne's World 2 (1993) were box-office smashes, but it did not further Dana's film career. Other than guest cameos, his screen promise dematerialized, while his own self-titled TV comedy series, The Dana Carvey Show (1996), faltered as well. As its host, he reprised a number of his popular characters and introduced a slew of future comedians, including Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert, but the show was deemed too offensive and was canceled after only six airings. Dana's last film to date was the comedy vehicle The Master of Disguise (2002), which was executive-produced by Adam Sandler. Like most of his others, it fell flat and exited early from the theaters.

Where Dana's brilliance IS captured is on the live comedy stage and in his numerous TV cable specials and standup concert appearances. To see Dana perform live is to witness an ideal blend of wit, style, personality and unrestrained, racy humor, something he was not afforded to do on film. He lives with wife Paula in Southern California.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Spouse (1)

Paula Zwagerman (8 January 1983 - present) (2 children)

Trivia (18)

Celebrity impersonations include John McLaughlin, Charles Grodin, Woody Allen, and Johnny Carson.
Brother of Brad Carvey.
Has two sons, Dex (born 1991) and Thomas (born 1993).
Impersonations include George Bush, Jimmy Carter, Ross Perot, and Walter Mondale on Saturday Night Live (1975).
Formerly worked as a busboy at a Holiday Inn.
Underwent open-heart surgery for a blocked artery in 1997 but had the wrong artery operated on. Later sued for medical malpractice and was awarded 7.5 million dollars. He's had to undergo five operations in total to correct his heart problem.
His ancestry is seven sixteenths (7/16ths) Norwegian, with his other roots being English, German, Swedish, and Irish.
Also a very talented drummer
Biography in: "Who's Who in Comedy" by Ronald L. Smith. Pg. 98-99. New York: Facts on File, 1992. ISBN 0816023387
From the same hometown as David Lynch.
His older brother Mark Carvey was his assistant on Wayne's World 2 (1993).
David Letterman publicly suggested Carvey as his replacement on Late Show with David Letterman (1993) after he left for CBS.
Attended Carlmont High School in Belmont, CA.
Holds the record for having said "Live from New York, it's Saturday Night!" most often.
Appeared on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (1999) in 2000 and won $32,000 for his charity.
Is a fan of the band The Village People.
Living in Southern California with wife Paula, he fills his house with grown-up toys, likes to shoot baskets and play guitar and drums.
Dana's brother Brad is an engineer and a pioneer in the video production field. He developed "Video Toaster", an inexpensive setup for Hollywood quality video making. The character "Garth" from Wayne's World (1992) is based on Dana's brother.

Personal Quotes (4)

As the Church Lady: "Well, isn't that special?"
[My characters] all start with rhythms and sounds. Once I hear the voice and get into the rhythm, the attitude and the physicality just come out on their own. Ching Change, the Church Lady and Hans have a meter and pitch that are distinctly their own.
I used to sneak up to the 8th floor [at NBC] and watch Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo rehearsing Saturday Night Live and could only wonder if I would ever have the chance to be funny. It took me five years to go up the two stories, but it is such a sense of fulfillment to be able to show what I can do on national television.
When people come to see my stand-up, they get a chance to see my characters interact with each other. I enjoy pushing my characters to the limit. No matter how far out there I go, I look for things that make the characters human. While many comics have a secret persona, I fundamentally want to be myself.

Salary (1)

Opportunity Knocks (1990) $700,000

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