Jason Alexander

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This article is about the actor. For other people, see Jason Alexander (disambiguation).
Jason Alexander
Jason Alexander Fourth of July.jpg
Born Jay Scott Greenspan[1]
(1959-09-23) September 23, 1959 (age 54)
Newark, New Jersey, U.S.
Alma mater Boston University
Occupation Actor, comedian, director, producer, singer, writer
Years active 1981–present
Spouse(s) Daena E. Title (1982–present)
Children 2

Jay Scott Greenspan (born September 23, 1959),[2][3] better known by his professional name of Jason Alexander, is an American actor, director, producer, writer, singer, and comedian.

He is best known for his role as George Costanza on Seinfeld, appearing from 1989-98. He has also had an active career on the stage, appearing in several Broadway musicals including Jerome Robbins' Broadway in 1989, for which he won the Tony Award as Best Leading Actor in a Musical. He appeared in the Los Angeles production of The Producers with Martin Short. He is the Artistic Director of "Reprise! Broadway's Best in Los Angeles," where he has directed several musicals. Alexander is also an avid poker player.

Early life[edit]

Alexander was born Jay Scott Greenspan[2][3] in Newark, New Jersey, the son of Jewish parents Ruth Minnie (née Simon), a nurse and health care administrator, and Alexander B. Greenspan, an accounting manager. He has a half-sister, Karen Van Horne, and a half-brother, Michael Greenspan.[4] Alexander grew up in Livingston, New Jersey and is a 1977 graduate of Livingston High School.[5] He attended Boston University but left the summer before his senior year, after getting work in New York City. He was later given an honorary degree in 1995. He is a practiced magician, and only switched to acting as a career when he realized that he was unlikely to succeed as a magician.[6]

Acting career[edit]

Stage career[edit]

Alexander began his acting career on the New York stage and is an accomplished singer and dancer. On Broadway, he appeared in Stephen Sondheim's Merrily We Roll Along, Kander & Ebb's The Rink, Neil Simon's Broadway Bound, Accomplice, and Jerome Robbins' Broadway, for which he garnered the 1989 Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical. Returning to the stage in 2003, Alexander was cast in a successful run, opposite Martin Short, in the Los Angeles production of Mel Brooks' The Producers.[7] Alexander also appeared with Kelsey Grammer in the 2004 musical adaptation of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, playing Jacob Marley to Grammer's Ebenezer Scrooge. He continues to appear in live stage shows, including Barbra Streisand's memorable birthday party for Stephen Sondheim at the Hollywood Bowl, in which he appeared with Angela Lansbury, performing selections from Sweeney Todd. Alexander was recently named the Artistic Director of Reprise Theatre Company in Los Angeles, where he previously directed Sunday in the Park with George. He is scheduled to direct the upcoming revival of Damn Yankees at Reprise!

Television[edit]

Alexander is best known as one of the key cast members of the award-winning television sitcom Seinfeld (1989–1998), in which he played George Costanza (Jerry Seinfeld's character's best friend since childhood).

Alexander first found success on television in the commercial for the McDonald's McDLT.

Before Seinfeld, he starred in a short-lived CBS sitcom called Everything's Relative in 1987 which lasted six episodes. Concurrently with his Seinfeld role, Alexander provided the voice of the lead character in the cult animated series Duckman (1994–1997). Alexander also voiced Catbert, the evil director of human resources, in the short-lived Dilbert animated series based on the popular comic strip.

He made cameo appearances in the second season of Curb Your Enthusiasm, playing himself. Alexander also appeared in the seventh season of Curb Your Enthusiasm, along with the other three principal Seinfeld cast members.[8] He also had a part in the ABC sitcom Dinosaurs, as Al "Sexual" Harris (who frequently engaged in sexual harassment) as well as other voices. Despite a relatively successful career in film and stage, Alexander never managed to repeat his Seinfeld-level of success in television. 2001 marked his first post-Seinfeld return to prime-time television: the heavily promoted but short-lived ABC sitcom Bob Patterson (which was canceled after just 5 episodes). Alexander partially blames the lack of success on the mood of the country after 9/11.[9]

His second chance as a TV series lead, the CBS sitcom Listen Up! (September 20, 2004 to April 25, 2005), also fell short of a second season. Alexander was also the principal executive producer of the series, based very loosely on the life of the popular sports-media personality Tony Kornheiser. Alexander appeared on the Family Guy: Live in Vegas CD singing a verse in the song "All Cartoons are Fuckin' Dicks". He was featured in the Friends episode "The One Where Rosita Dies" as a suicidal supply manager named Earl. Phoebe calls him trying to sell him toner and she learns about his problem and tries to persuade him not to commit suicide. This is referred to in an episode of Malcolm in the Middle where Alexander appears as a neurotic and critical loner called Leonard. He describes himself as free and mentions that he makes money with a job "selling toner over the phone". Also in the episode, he is repeatedly harassed by a man named George – his character's name on Seinfeld. Alexander appeared in the 1995 TV version of the Broadway musical Bye Bye Birdie, as Conrad Birdie's agent, Albert Peterson. He guest-starred in episode 8 of the 1996 variety show Muppets Tonight.

Alexander appeared on Star Trek: Voyager on the episode "Think Tank" playing a genius alien named Kurros who was trying to get Seven of Nine to serve on his ship. He appeared in "One Night at Mercy", the first episode of the short-lived 2002 revival of The Twilight Zone, playing Death. He featured in the 2005 Monk episode "Mr. Monk and the Other Detective" as Monk's rival, Marty Eels. On the June 26, 2006 episode of the Jimmy Kimmel Live! talk show, Alexander demonstrated several self-defense techniques. He was also the Host of the 230th July 4, 2006 of the PBS July 4 "A Capitol Fourth" Celebrations in Washington, D.C. in which he sang, danced, and played tuned drums. In 2006, Alexander signed on to feature as a regular cast member in the second season of Everybody Hates Chris. Alexander was the host of the Comedy Central Roast of actor William Shatner on August 13, 2006 (first airdate: August 20, 2006). In 2007, Alexander was a guest star in the third episode of the improv comedy series Thank God You're Here. He is also a frequent guest and panelist on: Bill Maher's Politically Incorrect and Real Time shows; Hollywood Squares; the Late Late Show, with both Craig Kilborn and Craig Ferguson; and the Late Show with David Letterman.

In 2008, Alexander guest-starred on the CBS show Criminal Minds in the season four episode "Masterpiece" as Prof. Rothschild,[10][11] a well-educated serial killer obsessed with the Fibonacci sequence who sends the team into a race against time to save his last victims. He returned in the same season to direct the episode "Conflicted", featuring the actor Jackson Rathbone. In 2011, Alexander was the guest star in an episode of Harry's Law, playing a high school teacher bringing a wrongful dismissal suit.[12]

Movies[edit]

In addition to his roles as an insensitive lawyer in Pretty Woman, co-starring with Richard Gere, and as an inept womanizer Mauricio in Shallow Hal, with Jack Black, Alexander has appeared in Love! Valour! Compassion!, Dunston Checks In, Love and Action in Chicago, The Last Supper and psychological horror film Jacob's Ladder. He voiced the gargoyle Hugo in Disney's 1996 animated film The Hunchback of Notre Dame, its direct-to-video sequel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame II, House of Mouse, and the video game Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance.[13] He has also dabbled in the art of directing, starting with 1996's For Better or Worse and 1999's Just Looking. He also played the phenomenally successful US toymaker A.C. Gilbert in the 2002 movie: The Man Who Saved Christmas. In 2009, Alexander had a small role in the movie Hachi: A Dog's Tale as a train station manager, again working next to Richard Gere. Alexander starred in A Fairly Odd Movie: Grow Up, Timmy Turner! as Cosmo.

Other work[edit]

Alexander is also featured in country music star Brad Paisley's music videos "Celebrity" and "Online", the latter of which he directed and won the 2007 Country Music Association's Video of the Year Award. In August 2012, he co-starred in the music video "Trying Not to Love You" by Nickelback with former Baywatch star Brooke Burns. In January 1995, Alexander did a commercial for Rold Gold pretzels to be broadcast during the Super Bowl. The commercial depicts him with Frasier dog "Eddie" jumping out of an airplane with a parachute over the stadium. After the commercial, the audience is brought back to a supposedly "live feed" of the playing field hearing startled sports commentators as Alexander and the dog land in the field to wild applause. In the summer of 2005, he appeared with Lee Iacocca in ads for DaimlerChrysler. Lee Iacocca did the ads as part of a way to raise money for Dr. Denise Faustman's research to cure autoimmunity.[14] Both Lee Iacocca and Jason Alexander have had loved ones whose lives have been adversely affected by autoimmunity. Alexander has also done a McDonald's commercial advertising the McDLT, in which he sings. He has also appeared in Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) commercials, including one with baseball superstar Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants and another one opposite Trista Rehn of The Bachelorette. It was rumored that he no longer appears in these commercials due to the alleged cruelty to animals by KFC suppliers and slaughterhouses, but he refuted that in the August 2, 2006 issue of Adweek. Alexander said, "That's PETA bullcrap. I loved working for KFC. I was targeted by PETA to broker something between them. I think KFC really stepped up to the plate; unfortunately PETA did not."

He performed a mentalism and magic act at the Magic Castle in Hollywood, California from April 24 to 30, 2006. He has been awarded the Parlor Magician of the year award at the Castle. Alexander was the national spokesman for the Scleroderma Foundation, a leading organization dedicated to raising awareness of the disease and assisting those who are afflicted. He also voiced the character Abis Mal in The Return of Jafar and the television series based on Disney's 1992 animated film, Aladdin. Jason Alexander guest starred in Malcolm in the Middle as an intelligent but unpleasant individual (Lenard) who Malcolm meets in the park. He makes money as a telephone salesman and spends his time playing chess in the park. Malcolm, afraid of ending up like Lenard, tries to get him to change his ways and get a full-time job. In 2007, Alexander appeared in a commercial for the ASPCA, which has aired on cable TV stations.[15] In 1987, Alexander appeared in a commercial for Miller Lite, with Yogi Berra as the celebrity, speaking about Miller Lite using his unique malapropism eloquence, sitting at a bar with many others including a young Jason Alexander standing behind Berra's left shoulder.

In 2009, Alexander also lent his voice talents in the Thomas Nelson audio Bible production known as The Word of Promise. In this dramatized audio, Alexander played the character of Joseph. The project also featured a large ensemble of well known Hollywood actors including Jim Caviezel, Lou Gossett Jr., John Rhys-Davies, Jon Voight, Gary Sinise, Christopher McDonald, Marissa Tomei and John Schneider.[16][17]

Playing poker[edit]

Alexander playing at Annie Duke's charity event in the 2009 World Series of Poker
Alexander with Alan F. Horn in May 2010

In recent years, Alexander has also competed on televised poker shows and in various tournaments. He has appeared twice on Bravo's Celebrity Poker Showdown, winning the final table of the 8th season. Alexander won the $500,000 prize for his charity, The United Way of America to help benefit the New Orleans Area. An avid poker player, Jason was also one of the "famous faces"[18] due to being a regular player on the online poker website Hollywood Poker which is run in conjunction with Ongame Network. Alexander also played in the 2007 World Series of Poker main event, but was eliminated on the second day. He returned to play in 2009. He made it to Day 3 of the event, finishing in the top 30% of the field. Alexander has also appeared on NBC's Poker After Dark in the "Celebrities and Mentors" episode, finishing in 6th place after being eliminated by professional poker player Gavin Smith. He also signed with PokerStars where he plays under the screen name "J. Alexander".

Recent appearances[edit]

Alexander was host of the LOL Sudbury opening night Gala in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada on May 29, 2008, which was simulcast throughout Canada at 60 Cineplex theaters, a first for any comedy festival. He has loaned his voice to several episodes of the Twilight Zone Radio Dramas.

In 2008 and again in 2009, Alexander fronted Jason Alexander's Comedy Spectacular, a routine exclusive to Australia. The show consists of stand-up and improvisation and incorporates Alexander's musical talent. He is backed up by a number of well-known Australian comedians. His first time performing a similar show of this nature was in 2006 for Jason Alexander's Comedy Christmas. In February/March 2010, Alexander starred in his own show, The Donny Clay Experience, at the Planet Hollywood Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Donny Clay character, which he has performed in a tour of the United States, is a self-help guru in a similar mold to his Bob Patterson character.

It was announced in July 2010 that Alexander would be joining the cast of the Nickelodeon films based on their series The Fairly Oddparents, A Fairly Odd Movie: Grow Up, Timmy Turner! and A Fairly Odd Christmas. He played Cosmo, one of Timmy Turner's fairies.[19]

On January 6, 2010, it was announced that Alexander would be the new face of the weight loss company Jenny Craig.[20]

Alexander stars in the music video for Nickelback's "Trying Not To Love You" as a coffee foam artist.[21]

Personal life[edit]

He has been married to Daena E. Title since May 31, 1982.[22] They have two sons, Gabriel[22][23] and Noah.[22]

Alexander has been a prominent public supporter of the OneVoice initiative, which seeks out opinions from moderate Israelis and Palestinians who want to achieve a mutual peace agreement between their societies. He explained on Real Time with Bill Maher (July 17, 2009) that he has visited Israel many times. On his appearance, he spoke about progress towards peace that he has recently observed.

In 2012, Alexander announced his support for Democratic President Barack Obama, who was running for re-election. [24]

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1981 The Burning Dave
1981 Senior Trip Pete Television film
1986 The Mosquito Coast Clerk
1986 Brighton Beach Memoirs Pool Player
1986 Rockabye Lt. Ernest Foy Television film
1990 Pretty Woman Philip Stuckey
1990 White Palace Neil
1990 Jacob's Ladder Mr. Geary, the lawyer
1992 I Don't Buy Kisses Anymore Bernie Fishbine
1993 Sexual Healing Frank
1993 Coneheads Neighbor Larry Farber
1993 For Goodness Sake VCR Customer Short film
1994 The Paper Marion Sandusky
1994 North North's Dad
1994 The Return of Jafar Abis Mal
1994 Blankman Mr. Stone
1995 Bye Bye Birdie Albert Peterson Television film
1995 The Last Supper The Anti-Environmentalist
1995 For Better or Worse Michael Makeshift
1996 The Hunchback of Notre Dame Hugo Voice
1996 Dunston Checks In Robert Grant
1997 Love! Valour! Compassion! Buzz Hauser
1997 Cinderella Lionel Television film
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film
1998 Denial Art Witz
1999 Love and Action in Chicago Frank Bonner
1999 Madeline: Lost in Paris Henri/Uncle Horst
1999 Jingle Bells Elf Television film
2000 The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle Boris Badenov Nominated—Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor
2000 Let's Rap Fire Safety Smoke Detector Voice
2001 The Trumpet of the Swan Father Voice
2001 Shallow Hal Mauricio Wilson
2002 The Hunchback of Notre Dame II Hugo
2002 The Man Who Saved Christmas A.C. Gilbert Television film
2003 101 Dalmatians II: Patch's London Adventure Lil' Lightning
2004 A Christmas Carol Jacob Marley Television film
2006 Farce of the Penguins Penguin on Belly
2006 Ira and Abby Dr. Morris Saperstein
2006 Hood of Horror British Record Mogul
2006 How to Go Out on a Date in Queens Johnny
2007 The Grand Dr. Yakov Achmed
2009 Rock Slyde Mailman Stan
2009 Hachi: A Dog's Tale Carl
2010 Quantum Quest: A Cassini Space Odyssey Moronic Voice
2011 A Fairly Odd Movie: Grow Up, Timmy Turner! Cosmo Television film
2011 The Voyages of Young Doctor Dolittle Eugene
2012 Stars in Shorts Sid Rosenthal
2014 Wild Card Completed
2015 The Gettysburg Address Noah Brooks Voice

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1984–1985 E/R Harold Stickley 15 episodes
1987 Everything's Relative Julian Beeby 10 episodes
1988 Newhart Ramming Episode: "Courtin' Disaster"
1989–1998 Seinfeld George Costanza 170 episodes
American Comedy Award for Funniest Supporting Male Performer in a TV Series (1992–93)
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (1995, 1997–98)
Nominated—American Comedy Award for Funniest Supporting Male Performer in a TV Series (1996, 1999)
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film (1993–95, 1998)
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (1992–98)
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series (1996–99)
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
Nominated—Viewers for Quality Television Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Quality Comedy Series (1993–95)
1992–1993 Dinosaurs Additional Voices 7 episodes
1993 Dream On Randall Townsend Episode: "Oral Sex, Lies and Videotape"
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series
1994–1997 Duckman Eric Duckman 70 episodes
1994–1998 The Larry Sanders Show Himself 2 episodes
1994 Aladdin Abis Mal 14 episodes
1996 Muppets Tonight Himself Episode: "Jason Alexander"
1996 The Nanny Jack Episode: "The Tart with Heart"
1997 Remember WENN Alan Ballinger Episode: "Nothing Up My Sleeve"
1998 Hercules Poseidon 4 episodes
1999–2000 Dilbert Catbert 9 episodes
1999 Star Trek: Voyager Kurros Episode: "Think Tank"
2001–2009 Curb Your Enthusiasm Himself 5 episodes
2001 Friends Earl Episode: "The One Where Rosita Dies"
2001 Bob Patterson Bob Patterson 10 episodes
2001 The Legend of Tarzan Zutho Episode: "Tarzan and the Face from the Past"
2002 Son of the Beach Tex Finklestein Episode: "Penetration Island"
2002 House of Mouse Hugo Episode: "Donald Wants to Fly"
2002 The Twilight Zone Death Episode: "One Night at Mercy"
2003 Malcolm in the Middle Leonard Episode: "Future Malcolm"
2004–2005 Listen Up! Tony Kleinman 22 episodes
2005 Monk Marty Eels Episode: "Mr. Monk and the Other Detective"
2006 Odd Job Jack Don Episode: "Twenty-One You're Dead"
2006–2008 Everybody Hates Chris Principal Edwards 2 episodes
2006 Campus Ladies Professor Episode:"A Very Special Episode"
2008 The New Adventures of Old Christine Dr. Palmer Episode: "One and a Half Men"
2008–2009 Criminal Minds Prof. Rothchild Episode: "Masterpiece"
2009 Meteor Dr. Chetwyn 2 episodes
2010–2011 Fish Hooks Mr. Nibbles 2 episodes
2010 The Cleveland Show Saul Friedman Episode: "Brotherly Love"
2010 American Dad! Sal Episode: "White Rice"
2011 Glenn Martin DDS Brandon Episode: "GlenHog Day"
2011 Franklin & Bash Carter Lang Episode: "Big Fish"
2011 Harry's Law Richard Cross Episode: "Bad to Worse"
2011 China, IL Harold Episode: "Coming Out of the Casket"
2012 Two and a Half Men Alan's cardiologist Episode: "The Straw in My Donut Hole"
2012 Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best? Himself Unknown episodes
2012 Clipaholics Narrator 8 episodes
2013 Community Mountain Man Episode: "Intro to Felt Surrogacy"
2013 Hollywood Game Night Himself 2 episodes
2014 Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee George Costanza Episode: "George Costanza: The Over-Cheer"
2014 Kirstie Stanford Temple Episode: "Maddie's Agent"
2014-present The Tom and Jerry Show Rick

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2012 Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance Hugo

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Jason Alexander Biography". Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved 2010-03-07. 
  2. ^ a b "Jason Alexander: Biography from". Answers.com. Retrieved 2011-02-13. 
  3. ^ a b "Jason Alexander Biography". Biography.com. 1959-09-23. Retrieved 2011-02-13. 
  4. ^ "Jason Alexander Biography". filmreference. 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-07. 
  5. ^ Weinraub, Bernard. "At the Movies", The New York Times, October 22, 1999. Accessed February 24, 2011. "I was born in 1959 and grew up in Livingston, New Jersey, but I felt I knew these people very well"
  6. ^ John Lovic interviewing Jason Alexander (October 2007). Reel Magic Quarterly #2 (DVD). USA. 
  7. ^ Kenneth Jones (July 17, 2002). "Mel Brooks Gets Jason Alexander and Martin Short for L.A. Producers, Starting May 2, 2003". Playbill. Retrieved 2008-06-07. 
  8. ^ Rice, Lynette (2009-03-05). "Exclusive: 'Seinfeld' cast to appear on 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'". EW.com. Retrieved 2009-07-26. 
  9. ^ "In Step With: Jason Alexander". Parade Magazine. April 3, 2005. 
  10. ^ "Criminal Minds" Masterpiece (2008)
  11. ^ "Criminal Minds Episode Guide 2008 Season 4 – Masterpiece, Episode 8". Tvguide.com. Retrieved 2011-02-13. 
  12. ^ IMDB.com
  13. ^ "Jason Alexander to debut in ''Kingdom Hearts''". Retrieved 2013-02-20. 
  14. ^ "faustmanlab.org". faustmanlab.org. Retrieved 2013-02-20. 
  15. ^ "Logan, a victim of animal cruelty.". Retrieved 2010-12-30. 
  16. ^ "The Word of Promise: Cast". 
  17. ^ Groves, Martha (November 16, 2009). "BELIEFS : Stars lined up for elaborate audio Bible : Michael York, Jason Alexander and many others gave voice to a 79-CD reading of Old and New Testaments". Los Angeles Times. 
  18. ^ "Jason Alexander Biography". The Green Room (Hollywood Poker). 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-06. 
  19. ^ Oddparents-Movie-1020888.aspx "Exclusive: Nickelodeon Orders Live-Action Movie Adaptation of The Fairly Oddparents". TVGuide.com. 
  20. ^ DiNunno, Gina. "Jason Alexander Becomes Jenny Craig Spokesperson". TVGuide.com. 
  21. ^ Moaba, Alex. "Jason Alexander Stars in Nickelback Video For 'Trying Not To Love You'". Huffington Post. Retrieved January 20, 2013. 
  22. ^ a b c "Jason Alexander Biography - Facts, Birthday, Life Story - Biography.com". The Biography Channel. Retrieved April 17, 2014. 
  23. ^ "Alexander's Son Unimpressed With Seinfeld". Contactmusic.com. 26 November 2004. Retrieved 24 May 2012. 
  24. ^ "Obama Receives a Celebrity Endorsement at FSU". Retrieved October 22, 2012. 

External links[edit]