Charles Grodin - biography
Charles Grodin (born April 21, 1935) is an American actor, comedian, author and former cable talk show host.
Grodin was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Orthodox Jewish parents Lena, who worked as an assistant in the family's store and was a volunteer for disabled veterans, and Theodore Grodin, who sold wholesale supplies. His maternal grandfather was a Russian Jewish immigrant who came from a long line of Rabbis and moved to Pittsburgh at the turn of the 20th century. Grodin has an older brother, Jack. Grodin attended the University of Miami, but did not graduate. His first acting role was in a 1962 Broadway production of Tchin-Tchin. He made his film debut in an uncredited role for Disney's 1954 film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. In 1965, he began working as an assistant to director Gene Saks.
Grodin, a student of Lee Strasberg and Uta Hagen, began appearing on several television series during the 1960s including The Virginian, and played an obstetrician in the 1968 horror film, Rosemary's Baby. During the late 1960s, he also co-wrote and directed Hooray! It's a Glorious Day...and All That, a Broadway play, and directed Lovers and Other Strangers and Thieves, also on Broadway.
After having a supporting role in 1970's comedy, Catch-22, Grodin was cast in the lead role of the film The Heartbreak Kid, which was released in 1972 and gained Grodin recognition as a comedy actor. The film was based on a short story by Bruce Jay Friedman; ironically, only a short time earlier, Grodin had been replaced by Anthony Perkins in the Off-Broadway production of the play Steambath, also by Friedman. Grodin subsequently appeared in several notable 1970s films, including 11 Harrowhouse (1974), and the 1976 version of King Kong and the hit 1978 comedy, Heaven Can Wait. During this period, he frequently appeared on Broadway, and was also involved in producing several plays, including Thieves, which he also directed. In 1977, Grodin hosted an episode of the NBC sketch show, Saturday Night Live. He and the writers decided beforehand to play the show as if he had missed dress rehearsals and was clumsily ad-libbing his way through his sketches. Much like Andy Kaufman's appearance on Fridays four years later, his comic scenario was taken a bit too literally by the audience, and he was never asked to host again. In 1981, he landed in a role in The Great Muppet Caper playing Nicky Holiday, a jewel thief who comically falls in love with Miss Piggy. His 1980s roles included Neil Simon's Seems Like Old Times, opposite Chevy Chase and Goldie Hawn, and 1988's well-reviewed comedy, Midnight Run, a buddy movie co-starring Robert De Niro. Grodin also appeared in the 1986 CBS mini-series sendup Fresno, playing the evil son of a raisin matriarch, played by Carol Burnett.
Grodin's career took a turn in 1992, when he played the nervous family man George Newton in the kids' comedy Beethoven, opposite Bonnie Hunt. The film was a surprise box-office hit, and he reprised the role in the 1993 sequel. His next film role was in 1994's It Runs in the Family (a.k.a. My Summer Story), which received only a limited release and was a sequel to the film A Christmas Story. Grodin portrayed the frustrated uncle, alongside Martin Short in the 1994 comedy Clifford. After a 13-year long hiatus from film, Grodin returned to acting in the Zach Braff comedy The Ex (2007).
Grodin was a political commentator for 60 Minutes II starting in 2000, and hosted his own issues-oriented talk show, The Charles Grodin Show, on CNBC from 1995 to 1998. In 2004, Grodin wrote The Right Kind of People, an off-Broadway play about Co-op boards in certain buildings in Manhattan. Grodin's commentaries continue to be heard on New York City radio station WCBS and other affiliates of the CBS Radio Network, as well as on the CBS Radio Network's Weekend Roundup He is also a best-selling author; his works include It Would Be So Nice If You Weren't Here, Spilled Milk and Other Clichés and How I Get Through Life. His book, If I Only Knew Then...Learning from Our Mistakes was released in November 2007 by Springboard Press. It is a collection of essays from his famous friends (and friends of friends), with all author proceeds going to the Help USA charity. His book How I Got To Be Whoever It Is I Am came out in April 2009.
Grodin has a daughter, Marion, from his first marriage, to Julie Ferguson. They later divorced. He married Elissa Durwood in 1985 and has a son from the marriage, Nicky (born 1988). He is the son-in-law of the late Stanley Durwood, founder and former chairman of AMC Theatres.
Charles is now working with an autistic boy named Alex Fischetti to whom he has been a mentor and is helping him write a book.
Grodin usually adopts a faux antagonistic attitude during his semi-regular appearances on the Late Show with David Letterman. Seemingly miffed or angry, his act is strictly tongue-in-cheek as he lobs verbal attacks at the host. He also did this during his appearances on The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson.
In 2006, Grodin received the William Kunstler Award for Racial Justice.
Grodin currently lives in Wilton, Connecticut.