Bob Goldthwait Biography

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Birth Name: Bob Goldthwait
Born: 05/26/1962
Birth Place: Syracuse, New York, USA

Born with the more demure handle Robert Francis Goldthwait in Syracuse, NY on May 26, 1962, Bobcat Goldthwait made his public performance debut in the cast of a seventh grade staging of "Mary Poppins." While attending Bishop Grimes High School, he was lead singer for a punk rock band called Dead Ducks and later played bass for a second band called The Trend. Moving into comedy, Goldthwait partnered with fellow teen Tom "Tomcat" Kenny, creating an act called the Generic Comics, which played Syracuse clubs and restaurants for about a year. During this time, Goldthwait pioneered a comic style all his own, shrieking, stuttering and squeaking his way through routines with an incredible, manic energy that was simultaneously hilarious and off-putting. Splitting from Kenny, Goldthwait continued to hone his act in Boston, MA and then San Francisco, CA the following year. While performing in the latter city, he was viewed by Barry Josephson, manager of Whoopi Goldberg, who signed him up as a client. Appearances on the early incarnation of "Late Night with David Letterman" (NBC, 1983-1993) got him attention, followed by a small role in a forgotten direct-to-video science fiction thriller called "Massive Retaliation" (1984).

Goldthwait's talents were better utilized in his next role: Zed, the thoroughly bizarre leader of the Scullions street gang in "Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment" (1985), the sequel to the surprise comedy hit from the previous year. Overpowering most of his co-stars, Goldthwait was brought back for the next year's "Police Academy 3: Back in Training" (1986), with Zed now a member of the police cadets himself. That same year, Goldthwait joined John Cusack and Demi Moore in the comedy "One Crazy Summer" (1986) where among other things, he was able to storm around in a Godzilla costume. Goldthwait had little love for the "Police Academy" movies - referring to them as "Police Lobotomy" - doing only one more instalment, 1987's "Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol," before moving on to a co-starring role in the Whoopi Goldberg vehicle "Burglar" (1987). That same year, he also enjoyed headlining his own HBO special "An Evening with Bob Goldthwait: Share the Warmth."

With Goldthwait's popularity on the rise, Warner Bros. gave the comedian his own movie vehicle, "Hot to Trot" (1988), an update on the "Mr. Ed" formula that paired Goldthwait with a talking horse, voiced by John Candy. A critical and financial disaster, "Hot to Trot" stymied Goldthwait's career as a leading man; on the upside, he had a memorable supporting part that year in the Bill Murray Christmas comedy hit, "Scrooged." During this time, Goldthwait continued to tour the comedy club circuit and was a major attraction in the all-star "Comic Relief" fundraisers. Looking for a new avenue, he decided to try his hand at directing with the low-budget indie "Shakes the Clown" (1991), which he also wrote and starred in. The tale of an alcoholic clown who tries to get his life back together while fending off evil, cocaine-snorting rival Binky (played by Goldthwait's former partner, Tom Kenny) , the black comedy drew the ire of both professional clowns and movie critics, but developed a significant cult following in later years.

With "Shakes the Clown" seen mostly on video and cable at the time, Goldthwait returned to acting, voicing a sentient sock puppet in the similarly under released "Freaked" (1993), while appearing on-camera in misfires like "Radioland Murders" (1994) and "Destiny Turns on the Radio" (1995). A regular on the late night talk show circuit, Goldthwait made headlines in the spring of 1994 when he inexplicably went wild on "The Arsenio Hall Show" (syndicated, 1989-1994), spray-painting "Paramount Sucks" on the set of the recently-cancelled show and causing further damage. Only one week later, Goldthwait created more havoc on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" (NBC, 1992 - ), setting fire to a chair; he was sentenced to probation, ordered to appear in a public service advertisement about the dangers of playing with fire and to reimburse NBC for damages. He also repelled while nude off the ceiling of the Oakland Coliseum as a part of a 1993 New Year's Eve celebration. In between violating various safety and obscenity statutes, Goldthwait also kept his performing talents honed by touring as a most unusual opening act for the rock band, Nirvana.

With his established persona and knack for weird vocals, Goldthwait was a natural for animation work, doing the voice of the nasty imp "Pain" in Walt Disney's animated blockbuster "Hercules" (1997) as well as similar assignments for such television cartoons as "Hercules: The Animated Series" (ABC, 1998-2000) and "Lilo & Stitch: The Series" (Disney Channel, 2003- ). He also had a recurring vocal role on the live action sitcom "Unhappily Ever After" (The WB, 1995-99), providing the voice of a stuffed bunny named Mr. Floppy that served as the obnoxious alter ego of the show's washed-up protagonist. "Bobcat's Big Ass Show" (FX, 1998) was an attempt by the comedian to duplicate the audience participation formula seen on various weird Japanese game shows, but the program was soon cancelled. Goldthwait also began directing for television, helming 42 episodes of Comedy Central's "The Man Show" (1999-2004). Small appearances in drug drama "Blow" (2000) and minor features like "G-Men from Hell" (2000) and "Grind" (2003) followed, but the comic also returned to directing features via the TV movie "Windy City Heat" (2003) about an elaborate practical joke played on a dimwitted aspiring actor.

That project's executive producer, Jimmy Kimmel, then tapped him to join the production team of "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" (ABC, 2003 - ), and Goldthwait enjoyed an extended stay at ABC, directing 267 episodes of the late night talk show. He returned to writing and directing features with comedies clearly designed to make audiences uneasy and challenged. "Sleeping Dogs Lie" (2006) mined laughs from a couple's revelations about their respective sexual histories. Despite the fact that one of those histories involved bestiality, the film was praised for being surprisingly witty and thoughtful. His next directorial effort, "World's Greatest Dad" (2009) starring long-time friend, Robin Williams, also received largely positive notices with its jet black story of a father who inadvertently makes himself famous while trying to clean up the legacy of his hateful dead son. Goldthwait mined similarly dark territory with "God Bless America" (2011) about a deranged man who thinks he can improve America by murdering its most debased and idiotic citizens.

By John Charles




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