Chip Zien

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Chip Zien
Born (1947-03-20) March 20, 1947 (age 68)
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.
Nationality American
Occupation Actor

Jerome Herbert "Chip" Zien (born March 20, 1947) is an American actor. He is best known for playing the lead role of the Baker in the original Broadway production of Into the Woods by Stephen Sondheim. Later he played the role of Buzz Richards in the City Center Encores! production of Applause, Thénardier in the Broadway production of Les Misérables and Mark Rothenberg in the film United 93. He is also known for providing the voice of Howard in the film Howard the Duck.

Early life[edit]

Zien was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and graduated from Whitefish Bay High School and later from the University of Pennsylvania. There, he was the President of The Mask and Wig Club, the nation's oldest all-male collegiate musical comedy troupe.


Young Zien started in local theatrical productions. One of his early roles was as a child in a production of "South Pacific" at the Melody Top summer outdoor theatre in Milwaukee.[1]

Zien's first major role was as Marvin in William Finn's first musical, In Trousers. In its sequels, March of the Falsettos and Falsettoland, this role was played by Michael Rupert, while Zien played Mendel, a role he reprised when these two one-act musicals were joined together and played Broadway as Falsettos. Several years later, Zien was featured in another Finn musical when he played a bizarre children's show host called Mr. Bungee in A New Brain. He also famously originated the role of the Baker in Into the Woods in 1986. Zien also starred on Broadway in Grand Hotel (as Otto Kringelein), The Boys from Syracuse (as Dromio of Ephesus), The Suicide (as Victor Victorovich), and Ride the Winds (as Inari). He provided the voice of the title character in Marvel Comics' Howard the Duck.

In 1973, Zien made his television debut on an episode of Love, American Style. More guest roles in television followed, and in the early 1980s, he began a stream of regular TV roles. In 1981, he appeared on Ryan's Hope as Daniel Thorne, the producer of the fictional Proud and the Passionate soap opera on the series in which major character Kimberly Harris (Kelli Maroney) was starring on. Later that year, he began a two-year run in the freshman NBC sitcom Love, Sidney as Jason Stoller, the young, hot-shot ad agency director who was Sidney Shorr's (Tony Randall) boss. Immediately after Love, Sidney's cancellation, Zien was cast in a similar role on the ABC sitcom Reggie, an American adaptation of the British series The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin. He played C.J. Wilcox, the overbearing young boss of Richard Mulligan's Reggie Potter. The series aired as a summer replacement during August and September of 1983, but was not renewed by ABC after the tryout run. Zien later starred on the short-lived CBS drama Shell Game in 1987.

In the 1990s, Zien was part of the ensemble on the CBS sitcom Almost Perfect (1995-96), playing neurotic screenwriter Gary Karp. Almost Perfect was cancelled shortly into its second season, but the series sustained its loyal following via reruns on USA Network not long after. Zien would return to regular roles in daytime drama, first on Guiding Light in early 1999, and by that summer, as newspaper reporter Donald Steele on All My Children, a role that lasted until 2001.

From 1999 to 2000, Zien had a recurring primetime guest role on CBS' Now and Again as Gerald Misenbach. He has appeared repeatedly as Attorney Cromwell on Law & Order.[2] During the 2002-03 season, Zien was the announcer on daytime's The Caroline Rhea Show, which was based out of New York (on the former Rosie O'Donnell Show set). In 2005, Zien played the part of Goran in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang on Broadway. In 2006, he appeared in the critically acclaimed film United 93 as Mark Rothenberg. He also played Dr. Marsh in the vampire comedy film Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Undead.

From April 1 to June 19 2011, Zien appeared in the Roundabout Theatre Company's production of The People in the Picture, which played at Studio 54.[3]

Zien also appeared in a revival of Into the Woods at the Delacourt Theater in Central Park from August 9 to September 1 2012. He played the Mysterious Man, the father of the character he had originated in the original production 26 years prior.[4]

Zien is also set to appear in the new Broadway musical It Shoulda Been You as Murray with music by Barbara Anselmi, book and lyrics by Brain Hargrove. The show, marking the directorial debut of Emmy Award-winning and Tony Award-nominated actor/comedian David Hyde Pierce, will star Emmy-winner Tyne Daly, Harriet Harris, Sierra Boggess, and David Burtka will begin previews March 17, 2015 with an opening night of April 14.


  1. ^,2077382/ "Chip Zien: A Happy Irony," Damien Jacques, The Milwaukee Journal, Sunday Dec. 27, 1981, Part 5, pages 1 and 2, accessed May 11, 2013
  2. ^ Playbill Interview with Chip Zien
  3. ^ People in the Picture
  4. ^

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