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Wallace Shawn Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (1) | Trade Mark (3) | Trivia (12) | Personal Quotes (1)

Overview (3)

Date of Birth 12 November 1943New York City, New York, USA
Birth NameWallace Michael Shawn
Height 5' 2" (1.57 m)

Mini Bio (1)

American character actor and writer Wallace Shawn has one of those fun, mischievously homely faces just made to entertain. Though he got out of the starting gate rather slowly, he has since excelled on stage, television and film while managing to turn himself into a winner with his loser-type looks. Woody Allen's character in the movie Manhattan (1979) amusingly describes Wallace's character as "a homunculus", which is a pretty fair description of this predominantly bald, wan, pucker-mouthed, butterball-framed, slightly lisping gent. Wallace made his movie debut in Allen's heralded classic playing Diane Keaton's ex-husband.

Born to privilege on November 12, 1943 in New York City, Wallace was the son of renowned editor William Shawn of "The New Yorker" fame and educated at both Harvard University, where he studied history, and Magdalen College, Oxford. Wallace initially taught English in India on a Fulbright scholarship, and then English, Latin and drama back in New York. However, a keen interest in writing and acting soon compelled him to leave his cushy position and pursue a stage career as both playwright and actor. During his distinguished career, Wallace turned out several plays. "Our Late Night", the first of his works to be performed, was awarded an off-Broadway Obie in 1975. "A Thought in Three Parts" (1976); "The Mandrake" (1977), which he translated from the original Italian and in which he made his acting debut; "Marie and Bruce" (1979); "Aunt Dan and Lemon" (1985) and "The Fever", for which he received his second Obie Award for "Best New Play" during the 1990-91 season, then followed. A popular support player in both comedy and occasional drama, his assorted kooks, creeps, eggheads and schmucks possessed both endearing and unappetizing qualities. He earned some of his best early notices partnered with theatre director/actor Andre Gregory in the unique Louis Malle-directed film My Dinner with Andre (1981). Shawn co-wrote the improvisatory, humanistic piece and his brother, Allen Shawn, was the composer. Shawn and Gregory would collaborate again for Malle in another superb, original-concept film Vanya on 42nd Street (1994). Among the quality offbeat filming involving has been Bruce Paltrow's A Little Sex (1982); James Ivory's The Bostonians (1984); Stephen Frears' Prick Up Your Ears (1987); Rob Reiner's The Princess Bride (1987); Alan Rudolph's The Moderns (1988) and Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle (1994); Paul Bartel's Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills (1989); and several others for Woody Allen: Radio Days (1987), Shadows and Fog (1991), The Curse of the Jade Scorpion (2001) and Melinda and Melinda (2004). Of late, he has lent his vocal talents to a considerable number of animated pictures including A Goofy Movie (1995), Toy Story (1995) (and its sequel), The Jungle Book: Mowgli's Story (1998), The Incredibles (2004), Chicken Little (2005) and Happily N'Ever After (2006).

Over the decades, Shawn has scurried about effortlessly in a number of television guest appearances including Taxi (1978), Homicide: Life on the Street (1993), Ally McBeal (1997), Law & Order: Criminal Intent (2001) and Desperate Housewives (2004), and has drummed up a few recurring roles for himself in the process, including The Cosby Show (1984), Murphy Brown (1988), Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993) and Crossing Jordan (2001). In the series Clueless (1996), based on the highly successful of the same name Clueless (1995), Shawn revisited his role as the owlish high school teacher.

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

Trade Mark (3)

Very elfin looks, enough to make Woody Allen look almost like a conventional leading man in Manhattan (1979)
Distinctive high, clipped, lisping speaking voice
Bald head and short stature

Trivia (12)

Brother is Allen Shawn, American composer
Sister-in-law is Jamaica Kincaid, West Indian author
Father was William Shawn, editor of The New Yorker, 1952-1987.
Does not own a television set.
He met Andre Gregory, his co-star in My Dinner with Andre (1981), by arranging to attend every performance of Gregory's New York staging of "Alice in Wonderland" in 1970 -- a run which lasted for a year. The two have been friends and occasional collaborators ever since.
In 2005, he received a career achievement award from the PEN/Laura Pels Foundation. The writers organizations gave him this honor for his work in the theater.
He wrote an adaptation of the "Threepenny Opera", which opened on Broadway on April 20, 2006 at Studio 54. Its many stars included Alan Cumming, Ana Gasteyer and Cyndi Lauper.
Is the longtime companion of Deborah Eisenberg.
Is afraid of heights.
Was considered for the role of Eddie Valiant in Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988).
Has a younger sister named Mary who has been institutionalized since the mid-1950s, when she was six. Mary was diagnosed with what were then referred to as mental retardation and "infantile schizophrenia", the former term for the condition now diagnosed under the name "autism".
Did not start acting until he was age 36.

Personal Quotes (1)

I don't happen to have a sense of humor personally, so I don't know what's funny about a character... This happens to be a feature of my life generally. I do things, and other people laugh at them. I rarely know what the joke is supposed to be or why they're laughing.

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