Ben Curtis (actor)
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|Born||Benjamin Bowmar Curtis
November 2, 1980
Chattanooga, Tennessee, U.S.
|Occupation||Actor, singer, guitarist|
Benjamin Bowmar Curtis (born November 2, 1980), also known as the Dell Dude or Slacker Steve, is an American actor and former promoter for Dell Computers. Curtis was prominently featured in the popular "Dell Dude" ads from 2000 to 2003.
Early life and education
Curtis is the second of two children, and has an older sister named Polly. He attended and graduated from the McCallie School, an all-boys school in Chattanooga, Tennessee, after completing elementary school at Saint Nicholas School, also in Chattanooga.
At four years old, Curtis met illusionist David Copperfield. Inspired by Copperfield's performance, Curtis started his own magic business at the age of thirteen. Curtis went on to compete in and win a few national stage contests. Curtis later attended Tannen's Magic School in New York City. While at the school, Ben created, produced, directed, and starred in his first full-scale illusion show. The show consisted of his skills in music, acting, magic, and mime.
At age 18, Ben achieved the rank of Eagle Scout.
Curtis attended New York University's Tisch School of the Arts on an acting scholarship. While at NYU, Ben has attended The Lee Strasberg Institute & the Atlantic Theater Company, as well as studying the techniques of Grotowski and Brecht at Tisch’s Experimental Theater Wing (both in America and Amsterdam).
The Dell Dude
As part of a commercial advertising campaign, Curtis portrayed the character Steven. This advertising campaign popularized the phrase "Dude, you're getting a Dell." The commercials would usually feature chipper Steven informing prospective buyers of all the perks of owning a Dell. When the party was sold on the idea he would close with the catchphrase "Dude, you're getting a Dell". The campaign was a huge success and not only helped bring prominence to Dell, but to Curtis as well.
On February 9, 2003, Curtis was caught attempting to buy a bag of marijuana on Manhattan's Lower East Side. Curtis was arrested and charged with criminal possession of marijuana. Due to recognizability of Curtis, word of the arrest spread quickly through the media. A chain email of the story even cropped up as it was forwarded around the internet using the iconic parodied phrase "Dude, you're getting a cell!"
The case was adjourned in contemplation of dismissal, such that the case would be dismissed and Curtis's record cleared if he remained clean for the next twelve months. Dell spokesman Venancio Figueroa maintained that Curtis' relationship with the company was "still in place." Despite this statement, Dell, Inc. terminated Curtis' employment and ended its relationship with him soon afterward, citing unspecified violations of company policy; whether these violations were related to the arrest is unclear. However, it is believed that Curtis was already in the process of being phased-out in favor of a new pitch for Dell. In early 2003, the ad campaign was dropped in favor of a new set of commercials about three Dell interns.
Life after Dell
In the spring of 2004, Boca Raton, Florida-based AdSouth Partners hired Curtis to lead its marketing campaign for the launch of Gameznflix, an Internet video game and movie rental service. Regarding the marijuana incident, Curtis told an interviewer for the South Florida Business Journal, "I learned an important lesson" said Curtis, then 23, and a senior at New York University. "I've been through that experience and I've come out of that a better and smarter person. I've learned what it means to be a role model and I feel blessed to have a second chance."
In 2005 Curtis played the role of Christian in the Off-Broadway comedy Joy by John Fisher. The show ran at the Actors' Playhouse in Manhattan's West Village from August 14 to September 25. The play and his performance both received generally favorable reviews.
Curtis has guest-starred on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and an episode of Law & Order in 2007. He has appeared in several independent productions, most recently Take Me Out at NYU's Abe Burrows Theatre and in Alexander Klymko's 2011 film Spy.
- "The mystery of the Dell dude." — by Rob Walker — Slate Magazine
- "Dell Dude' released after marijuana arrest". CNN. 2003-02-11. Archived from the original on 20 January 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-14.
- "Dude, You're Getting the Boot!". Snopes.com. 2007-08-05. Retrieved 2009-03-19.
- The Dell Dude shines Off-Broadway