Esten in May 2014, in New York City.
|Born||Charles Esten Puskar III
September 9, 1965
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Alma mater||College of William and Mary|
|Occupation||Actor, comedian, singer|
|Spouse(s)||Patty Hanson (1991–present)|
|Children||Taylor, Addie, Chase|
Esten was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and moved to Alexandria, Virginia at age 9 after his parents divorced; he and his younger sister were singlehandedly raised by their mother. His late father, Charles "Chuck", was a prominent local businessman and business partner of former Pittsburgh Steelers center Ray Mansfield.
Esten attended T.C. Williams High School and his parents' and sister's alma mater, the College of William and Mary, where he was a brother of Theta Delta Chi fraternity and graduated with a degree in economics in 1987. At William and Mary, he was the lead vocalist in the band N'est Pas from 1985 until 1988. Following graduation, Esten moved to the United Kingdom to make his theatrical debut, playing the title role in the musical Buddy in the early 1990s.
Whose Line Is It Anyway?
In 1992, the makers of Whose Line Is It Anyway? asked him to audition for an episode, which he did successfully. Consequently, Esten made his debut on the Channel 4 show in the fourth series and "won" the episode. He subsequently appeared in more episodes later the same year when the show did a run in New York. At the time, the show needed a second specialist improvisational singer to fill in for Mike McShane.
Esten made his final appearance in the UK edition in 1994 before moving back to the US and playing the role of Luke in Party of Five. Although appearing on stage and screen thereafter, it was his 1999 return to Whose Line Is It Anyway?—in the show's new-look American format on , with Drew Carey as host—which established him with a mainstream American audience. He was a regular "fourth contestant" on the show, and because of his singing abilities was often paired with series regular Wayne Brady on musical games. He has not, however, returned to the show since its 2013 revival by The CW.
Other comedy work
Following his return to Whose Line Is It Anyway, Esten made a guest appearance as himself with fellow regular cast members from the show Wayne Brady, Greg Proops and Brad Sherwood on The Drew Carey Show. In 2003, he hosted a semi-scripted semi-improvised comedy mini series called On the Spot. Between 2004 and 2006, he was a member of the touring group Improv All-Stars and recurring cast member on Drew Carey's Green Screen Show. In 2011, he was a regular on Drew Carey's Improv-A-Ganza on GSN.
Esten and fellow former Whose Line Is It Anyway stars Greg Proops, Ryan Stiles and Jeff Davis regularly teamed up and tour around the country doing live improv under the name Whose Live Anyway?. In April 2014, Esten ceased work with Whose Live Anyway?, and was replaced by Joel Murray.
Esten also starred in a public service video, "Riding Straight", produced for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's curriculum, Motorcycle Rider Course: Riding and Street Skills (MRC:RSS). Esten portrayed a surfer dude, a snuff-dipping hick, and a concerned friend in a bar.
Esten has appeared as a guest star in various TV series, including Married... with Children, The New Adventures of Old Christine, "Star Trek: The Next Generation", Star Trek: Voyager, ER, NCIS: Los Angeles, Jessie, The Mentalist, and The Office. Since 2012 he has been part of the main cast of Nashville, starring as Deacon Claybourne. He has also contributed to the soundtracks as both a singer and songwriter. He co-wrote "I Know to Love You Now" with Deanna Carter, which was featured in the season 3 premiere.
He also appeared as a contestant on at least 4 (12/13 through 12/16/88) episodes of the game show Sale of the Century, credited as Chip Puskar, having won about $34,000 in cash and prizes. An appearance on Scrabble followed in 1990 during its final week.
In 2014, Esten appeared as a celebrity contestant on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and won $500,000 for his charity, tying him with Rosie O'Donnell, Drew Carey, and Norm MacDonald for the most money won by a celebrity in one appearance on the show.
Esten is married to Patty (née Hanson), whom he met in college. They resided in Sherman Oaks, California with their daughters Taylor and Addie and son Chase. The family moved to Nashville after Esten was cast as a series regular on Nashville.
|1992, 1994||Whose Line Is It Anyway? (UK version)||Performer||5 episodes|
|1999–2005||Whose Line Is It Anyway (U.S. version)||Performer||39 episodes|
|2004–05||Drew Carey's Green Screen Show||Recurring performer||8 episodes|
|2011||Drew Carey's Improv-A-Ganza||Regular performer||32 episodes|
|1988||Sale of the Century||Himself/Contestant||4 episodes|
|1989||On the Television||various||5 episodes|
|1993||Cheers||Unnamed Marine||1 episode|
|Star Trek: The Next Generation||Divok||1 episode|
|1994||Murphy Brown||Secretary #67||1 episode|
|1995–96||The Crew||Randy Anderson||21 episodes|
|1996||Star Trek: Voyager||Dathan||1 episode|
|Diagnosis: Murder||Joe Carter||1 episode|
|Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman||Ethan Press||Episode 75 "Stop the Presses"|
|1997||JAG||Lieutenant Pete 'Pistol' Ayers||1 episode|
|Married... with Children||Lonnie||2 episodes|
|1998–2000||The Brian Benben Show||Chad Rockwell||7 episodes|
|Jack & Jill||Nick Seraph||1 episode|
|Providence||Ted Shannon||1 episode|
|2000||Party of Five||Luke||7 episodes|
|2000–01||The Drew Carey Show||Himself (guest appearance)||2 episodes|
|2002||The Guardian||Mark Hanson||1 episode|
|2003||On the Spot||Himself (host)||5 episodes|
|Dragnet||Carl Savitsky||1 episode|
|Just Shoot Me!||Jake||1 episode|
|2004||NYPD Blue||Tim Keating||1 episode|
|Cold Case||John "The Hawk" Hawkins||1 episode|
|2006||The Office||Josh Porter||7 episodes|
|2007||Help Me Help You||Willis||1 episode|
|The Winner||Gary||1 episode|
|The New Adventures of Old Christine||Joe Campbell||2 episodes|
|2007–08||ER||Dr. Barry Grossman||4 episodes|
|2009–10||Big Love||Ray Henry||11 episodes|
|2009||The Mentalist||Rick Bregman||1 episode|
|The Cleaner||Dr. Jake Slovak||1 episode|
|NCIS: Los Angeles||John Cole/Ethan Stanhope||1 episode|
|2011||Jessie||Morgan Ross||4 episodes|
|2012–present||Nashville||Deacon Claybourne||Series regular; 74 episodes|
|1997||The Sleepwalker Killing||Mark Schall|
|Late Last Night||Unnamed policeman|
|2000||Thirteen Days||Maj. Rudolf Anderson|
|2001||61*||Kevin Maris (1998)|
|2002||The Johnny Chronicles||Patrick Monroe|
|Ten Minutes Older: The Trumpet||Bill||"Twelve Miles to Trona" segment|
|2003||Nobody Knows Anything!||Connor Fulton|
|2007||American Family||Larry Bogner|
|2012||"Undermine" (with Hayden Panettiere)A||35||116||The Music of Nashville: Season 1 Volume 1|
|"No One Will Ever Love You" (with Connie Britton)A||36||117|
|2013||"This Town" (with Clare Bowen)||41||—||The Music of Nashville: Season 2, Volume 1|
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart|
- ADid not enter the Hot 100 but charted on Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles.
- Whose Line Is It Anyway? Television show – Whose Line Is It Anyway? TV Show – Yahoo! TV
- ""Whose Live Anyway"? is a party, performer says". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. 13 October 2009.
- "Life is Good – For Chip Esten '87, success is more than "Nashville"" (PDF). William & Mary Alumni Magazine (College of William & Mary). Spring 2014. pp. 32–36.
- "Obituary: Charles E. Puskar / Force behind creation of SIDS of Pennsylvania". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 25 April 2009.
- 'Whose Line' co-star relishing 'Improv All-Stars' tour : North County Times – Californian
- Improv All-Stars Schedule
- Chip Esten (2009). NCIS: Los Angeles episode Pushback (TV-Series). External link in
- "Watch Charles Esten Bring 'Nashville'-Worthy Grit to the Opry". Rolling Stone. December 3, 2014.
- "Puskar-Hanson". Orlando Sentinel. 3 November 1991.
- Leydon, Joe (August/September 2015). "Charles Esten". Cowboys & Indians. Check date values in:
- "Hot Country Songs Week of November 10, 2012". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved November 1, 2012.
- "Bubbling Under Hot 100 Week of November 10, 2012". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved November 1, 2012.
- Charles Esten at the Internet Movie Database
- Whose Live Anyway? live improv comedy show starring Ryan Stiles, Greg Proops, Chip Esten and Jeff Davis touring North America