Stephen Tobolowsky

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Stephen Tobolowsky
Stephen tobolowsky 2012.jpg
Tobolowsky at the 2012 Texas Book Festival
Stephen Harold Tobolowsky

(1951-05-30) May 30, 1951 (age 71)
EducationSouthern Methodist University (BFA)
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (MFA)
OccupationActor, author, musician
Years active1976–present
(m. 1988)

Stephen Harold Tobolowsky (born May 30, 1951) is an American character actor. He is known for film roles such as insurance agent Ned Ryerson in Groundhog Day[1] and amnesiac Sammy Jankis in Memento, as well as such television characters as Commissioner Hugo Jarry (Deadwood), Bob Bishop (Heroes), Sandy Ryerson (Glee), Stu Beggs (Californication and White Famous), "Action" Jack Barker (Silicon Valley), Dr. Leslie Berkowitz (One Day at a Time), and Principal Earl Ball (The Goldbergs).

Tobolowsky has a monthly audio podcast, The Tobolowsky Files, of autobiographical stories of his acting and personal life.[2] In 2015, he co-hosted a short-lived second podcast, Big Problems – An Advice Podcast, with David Chen.[3] He has also authored three books: The Dangerous Animals Club, Cautionary Tales, and My Adventures With God.

Early life and education[edit]

Tobolowsky was born in Dallas, Texas, into a Jewish family from Russia and Poland.[4][failed verification]

He grew up creating imaginative games with his brother, and his story The Dangerous Animals Club paints a picture of how unsupervised children in the 20th century could amuse themselves. He showed talent at baseball, but a serious childhood illness ended his career as an athlete before it began. He graduated from Justin F. Kimball High School and Southern Methodist University.[5][6] He received a master's degree from the University of Illinois in 1975.[7]

He is a cousin of former Dallas attorney Ira Tobolowsky,[8] who was murdered in his home in 2016, a crime which remains unsolved.[9] Another cousin (and Ira's brother) is the sculptor George Tobolowsky.[9]

Stephen Tobolowsky also played in a band called A Cast of Thousands, which had two songs, "Red, White and Blue" and "I Heard a Voice Last Night", on a compilation of local Dallas bands called A New Hi. Both of these songs featured Steve Vaughan on guitar, who would be later known as Stevie Ray Vaughan.[10]


Tobolowsky has appeared in over 200 films, plus many television projects. He has also worked in the theater, directing and acting in plays in New York City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. He directed one movie, Two Idiots in Hollywood, based on his play of the same name. He also co-wrote the film True Stories with David Byrne and Beth Henley.[11] He was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play for the 2002 revival of Morning’s at Seven.

On October 29, 2009, Tobolowsky started a new podcast on /Film called The Tobolowsky Files, where he tells stories, in a similar fashion to Tobolowsky's film Stephen Tobolowsky's Birthday Party.[12][13] The show was picked up by Public Radio International in 2012.[14]



Year Title Role Notes
1977 Keep My Grave Open Robert
1984 The Philadelphia Experiment Barney
1984 Swing Shift French deMille / Documentary Narrator
1986 Nobody's Fool Kirk
1987 Spaceballs Captain of the Guard
1988 Mississippi Burning Clayton Townley
1988 Two Idiots in Hollywood Prosecuting Attorney Also writer and director
1989 Checking Out Pharmacist
1989 Breaking In District Attorney
1989 Great Balls of Fire! Jud Phillips
1989 In Country Pete
1990 Bird on a Wire Joe Weyburn
1990 Funny About Love Hugo
1990 Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael Mayor Bill Klepler Credited as Stephen Tobolowski
1990 The Grifters Jeweler
1990 Mirror, Mirror Mr. Anderson
1991 Thelma & Louise Max
1992 Wedlock Warden Holliday
1992 Basic Instinct Dr. Lamott
1992 Where the Day Takes You Charles
1992 Hero Wallace
1992 Memoirs of an Invisible Man Warren Singleton
1992 Single White Female Mitchell Myerson
1992 Roadside Prophets Ranger Bob
1992 Sneakers Dr. Werner Brandes
1993 Josh and S.A.M. Thom Whitney
1993 Calendar Girl Antonio Gallo
1993 The Pickle Mike Krakower
1993 Romeo Is Bleeding District Attorney Uncredited
1993 Groundhog Day Ned Ryerson
1994 Trevor Father Jon
1994 My Father the Hero Mike
1994 Radioland Murders Max Applewhite
1995 Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde Oliver Mintz
1995 Murder in the First Mr. Henkin
1996 The Glimmer Man Christopher Maynard
1996 Power 98 Rick Harris
1996 Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco Bando Voice
1997 Boys Life 2 Father John
1997 The Curse of Inferno Lonnie Martin
1997 Mr. Magoo Agent Chuck Stupak
1998 An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn Bill Bardo
1998 Black Dog McClaren
1998 The Jungle Book: Mowgli's Story Tabaqui Voice, Video
1998 Around the Fire Doc
1998 The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars Calculator Voice, Video
Credited as Stephen Tobolowski
1999 The Insider Eric Kluster
1999 One Man's Hero Captain Gaine
1999 Don't Look Under The Bed Michael McCausland TV movie
2000 Sleep Easy, Hutch Rimes Dewey Wise
2000 Bossa Nova Trevor
2000 The Operator Doc
2000 Memento Sammy Jankis
2000 Stanley's Gig Abe Cohen
2001 The Prime Gig Mick
2001 The Day the World Ended Principal Ed Turner TV movie
2001 Sleep Easy, Hutch Rimes Dewey Wise
2001 Freddy Got Fingered Uncle Neil Uncredited
2002 Love Liza Tom Bailey
2002 The Country Bears Norbert Barrington
2002 Adaptation Ranger Steve Neely Scenes cut
2002 Ritual Dr. Javitz Uncredited
2003 National Security Billy Narthax
2003 View from the Top Frank Thomas Uncredited
2003 Freaky Friday Mr. Elton Bates
2003 Frankie and Johnny Are Married Murray Mintz
2004 Win a Date with Tad Hamilton! George Ruddy
2004 Garfield Happy Chapman / Walter J. Champman
2004 Little Black Book Carl
2004 Debating Robert Lee Debate Judge
2005 Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous Tom Abernathy
2005 Robots Bigmouth Executive, Forge Voice
2005 Stephen Tobolowsky's Birthday Party Himself
2005 Living 'til the End Dr. Shaw
2006 The Sasquatch Gang Ernie Dalrymple
2006 Failure to Launch Bud
2006 Pope Dreams Carl Venable
2006 Blind Dating Dr. Perkins
2006 National Lampoon's Totally Baked: A Potumentary Jesco Rollins
2007 Wild Hogs Charley
2007 Boxboarders! Dr. Stephen James
2007 Loveless in Los Angeles Jon
2008 The Rainbow Tribe Principal Sands
2008 Beethoven's Big Break Sal DeMarco Video
2009 The Time Traveler's Wife Dr. Kendrick
2010 Buried Alan Davenport Voice
2010 Hard Breakers Ephraim
2010 Peep World Ephraim
2011 You May Not Kiss the Bride Plumber
2011 The Last Ride Ray
2012 A Little Something on the Side Larry Short
2012 The Lorax Uncle Ubb Voice
2012 Pearblossom Hwy Rick Lawler
2014 The Barber Chief Gary Hardaway
2014 Mr. Peabody & Sherman Principal Purdy Voice
2014 Atlas Shrugged: Part III Dr. Hugh Akston
2014 Christian Mingle Douglas McCarver
2015 Hollywood Adventures Wronald Wright
2016 Welcome to the Men's Group Carl
2016 Six LA Love Stories Professor John Dobler
2016 The Confirmation Father Lyons
2016 Guys and Girls Can't Be Friends Andy
2017 Scooby-Doo! Shaggy's Showdown Andy Gunderson Voice, Video
2017 Mamaboy Reverend Weld
2018 Strange Nature Mayor Paulson
2018 Monsters At Large Mr. Phillips
2019 Fractured Dr. Berthram


Year Title Role Notes
1983 Cocaine and Blue Eyes TV Clerk Television film
1985 Alice Caveman Carl Episode: "Vera, the Nightbird"
1985 Knots Landing Steve Comiskey Episode: "A Man of Good Will"
1985 Falcon Crest Doctor Episode: "The Phoenix"
1985 Cagney & Lacey Russell Phelps Episode: "Ordinary Hero"
1985 Stir Crazy Salesman Episode: "Where's Mary?"
1986 Designing Women Boyd Episode: "Design House"
1986 227 Professor Episode: "We the People"
1987 The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd Alex Episode: "Here's Why You Should Never Wear High Heels to the Bank"
1989 Roe vs. Wade Darryl Horwath Television film
1989 L.A. Law Dr. Michael Segal Episode: "Lie Down and Deliver"
1989 Lifestories Josh Gant Episode: "Art Conforti"
1990 Last Flight Out Doctor Timothy Brandon Television film
1991 Seinfeld Tor Episode: "The Heart Attack"
1991 Tagget Al Hentz Television film
1991 Down Home Honis Episode: "Mail Order Tran"
1991 Baby Talk Dr. Ezra Farr Episode: "The Whiz Kid"
1991 The Marla Hanson Story Defense Attorney Television film
1991 Deadly Medicine Ron Sutton Television film
1991 Perry Mason: The Case of the Maligned Mobster Sergeant Phil Baranski Television film
1993 Picket Fences Ben Sasha Episode: "Be My Valentine"
1993 Civil Wars Eugene Paxton Episode: "A Liver Runs Through It"
1993 When Love Kills: The Seduction of John Hearn Detective Keefe Television film
1993 Café Americain Roger Episode: "Toast of the Town"
1993 Against the Grain Niles Hardeman Recurring role
1994 Harts of the West Dave's former boss Episode: "Back in the Panties Again"
1994 Blue Skies Oak Main role
1995 Dweebs Karl Main role
1995 A Whole New Ballgame Dr. Warner Brakefield 2 episodes
1995 Chicago Hope Dr. Ted Joseph 2 episodes
1996 The Home Court Jeffrey Solomon Episode: "Touched by an Anger"
1996 The Pretender Dr. Alan Trader Episode: "Pilot"
1996 Night Visitors Taylor Television film
1996 Buffy the Vampire Slayer Principal Flutie Unaired pilot
1996–1997 Mr. Rhodes Ray Heary Main role
1997 The Drew Carey Show The Councilman Episode: "The Dog and Pony Show"
1997 The Naked Truth Vincent Hartford Episode: "The Birds"
1997 Murder One Dr. Andross 3 episodes
1997 Promised Land Fred Argyle Episode: "Par for the Course"
1997–1998 Life with Louie (voice) 2 episodes
1998 The Closer Phil Episode: "Morality Bites"
1998 Disney's Hercules: The Animated Series Numericles (voice) Episode: "Hercules and the Techno Greeks"
1998 Suddenly Susan Dr. Gerken Episode: "Don't Tell"
1998 Vengeance Unlimited Mayor Bob Laird Episode: "Eden"
1998-2000 Any Day Now Mr. Brinkman 2 episodes
1999 Mad About You Principal Hocksacker Episode: "Uncle Phil Goes Back to High School"
1999 The Practice Clyde Burrows Episode: "Closet Justice"
1999 Don't Look Under the Bed Michael McCausland Television film
1999 That '70s Show The Professor Episode: "Laurie and the Professor"
1999 Two Guys and a Girl Father Viteri Episode: "Berg's New Roommate"
1999 Odd Man Out Alan Carlson Episode: "In the Name of the Father"
1999 Snoops Michael Bench 3 episodes
2000 Manhattan, AZ Dr. Bob Recurring role
2000 Alien Fury: Countdown to Invasion B.J. McQueen Television film
2000 Buzz Lightyear of Star Command Gil (voice) Episode: "Mindwarp"
2000 That's Life Study Advisor Roger Robinson Episode: "The Screw-Up"
2001 Roswell Julius Walters Episode: "Secrets and Lies"
2001 Bull Mr. Siegel Episode: "Blood, Flopsweat and Tears"
2001 King of the Hill Dr. Benson, Burt Halverstrom (voice) Episode: "The Exterminator"
2001 Off Centre Milt Flack Episode: "Swing Time"
2001 The Day the World Ended Principal Ed Turner Television film
2001 The Lone Gunmen Adam Burgess Episode: "Madam, I'm Adam"
2001 Black River Mayor Tom Thompson Television film
2002 Malcolm in the Middle Mr. Fisher Episode: "Lois' Makeover"
2002 Law & Order: Criminal Intent Jim Halliwell Episode: "Malignant"
2002 Do Over Mr. Meyers Episode: "The Block Party"
2003 Las Vegas Donny Rollins Episode: "Donny, We Hardly Knew Ye"
2003 Kingpin Dr. Klein's lawyer Episode: "Black Magic Woman"
2003 Lloyd in Space (voice) Episode: "At Home with the Bolts"
2003 Oliver Beene Ringmaster Bob Episode: "Divorce-o-Rama"
2003 The Dead Zone Dr. Jim Pratt Episode: "Plague"
2003–2005 CSI: Miami Assistant State Attorney Don Haffman Recurring role
2004 Will and Grace Ned Weathers Episode: "Company"
2004 It's All Relative Roy Episode: "Philip in a China Shop"
2004 The West Wing Dr. Max Milkman Episode: "The Stormy Present"
2004 Complete Savages Mr. Frehley Episode: "Voodude"
2004 Married to the Kellys Henry Conway Episode: "Talk Radio"
2004 According to Jim Dr. Ted Episode: "The Marriage Bank"
2005 American Dragon: Jake Long Stan Lipkowski (voice) Episodes: "Old School Training," "Adventures in Troll-Sitting"
2005 McBride: The Doctor Is Out... Really Out Harry Evers Television film
2005 Curb Your Enthusiasm Len Dunkel Episode: "The Seder"
2005 The Closer James Bloom Episode: "The Butler Did It"
2005 Reba Judge Episode: "Grannies Gone Wild"
2005–2006 Deadwood Hugo Jarry Recurring role
2006 Ghost Whisperer Dr. Edward Episode: "Dead Man's Ridge"
2006 Night Stalker Titus Berry Episode: "Timeless"
2006 Desperate Housewives Bud Penrod Episode: "No One Is Alone"
2006–2007 Big Day The Garf Recurring role
2007 John From Cincinnati Mark Lewinsky 3 episodes
2007 Entourage Mayor of Beverly Hills Episode: "Sorry, Harvey"
2007 Boston Legal Dr. Alvin Azinabinacroft Episode: "The Good Lawyer"
2007 Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip Joe Episode: "The Friday Night Slaughter"
2007 The Valley of Light Littlefield Television film
2007 Raines Wally Anderson Episode: "Stone Dead"
2007–2008 Heroes Bob Bishop Recurring role
2008 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Spencer Freiberg Episode: "Two and a Half Deaths"
2008 Rita Rocks Bill Bowman Episode: "Get Off Off of My Cloud"
2009 The New Adventures of Old Christine Principal James Merrow 2 episodes
2009–2011 Glee Sandy Ryerson Recurring role
2010 The Sarah Silverman Program Bill Fantastimart Episode: "A Fairly Attractive Mind"
2010 True Jackson, VP Lars Balthazar Episode: "Saving Snackleberry"
2010 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Edwin Adelson Episode: "Bullseye"
2011 Community Professor Peter Sheffield Episode: "Competitive Wine Tasting"
2011 The Defenders Judge Gelineau Episode: "Nevada v. Wayne"
2011 Pound Puppies Mr. Geekman (voice) Episode: "Taboo"
2011–2014 Californication Stu Beggs Main role
2012 Work It Dr. David Deutsch Episode: "Shake Your Moneymaker"
2012–2013 Justified FBI Agent Jerry Barkley 3 episodes
2012–2016 The Mindy Project Marc Shulman 4 episodes
2013 Toy Story of Terror! Ron the Hotel Manager (voice) Television film
2013–Present The Goldbergs Principal Earl Ball Recurring role
2014 Friends with Better Lives Dr. Adleman Episode: "Game Sext Match"
2014 Hello Ladies: The Movie Alan Television film
2014 The Hotwives Phil Recurring role
2015 Big Time in Hollywood, FL Alan Dolfe Main role
2015 Dr. Ken Joe Episode: "Pilot"
2015 Another Period Thomas Edison Episode: "Rejects Beach"
2016 Fuller House Mr. Gerald Episode: "The Not-So-Great Escape"
2016 Blunt Talk Daniel Rudolph Episode: "Walter Has to Look After Walter"
2016–2017 Silicon Valley Jack Barker 13 episodes
2016–2017 Justice League Action Martin Stein (voice) Recurring role
2017–2020 The Loud House Principal Huggins (voice) Recurring role
2017–2020 One Day at a Time Dr. Berkowitz Main role
2017 White Famous Stu Beggs 3 episodes
2017 We Bare Bears Stephen (voice) Episode: "Tubin"
2018 DIY Mister Wonderworm (voice) Television film
2019 Schooled Earl Ball Recurring role
2019 The Cool Kids Leonard Episode: “Margaret Ups Her Game”
2019 Live in Front of a Studio Audience Harry Bentley Episode: “Norman Lear's All in the Family and The Jeffersons“
2019 Green Eggs and Ham Chad (voice) Episode: "House"
2019 Puppy Dog Pals Worried Elf (voice) Episode: "Elves for a Day!"
2020 ThunderCats Roar Driller (voice) Episode: "Driller"
2020-2021 Archer Robert (voice) 8 episodes
2022 Grace and Frankie Allen Episode: "The Horrible Family"


Stage appearances[edit]

Selected stage appearances

Year Title Venue Role Notes
1976 Meredith Monk Dance Company's Paris Royce Hall Man with a clipboard [15]
1982 Beth Henley's The Wake of Jamie Foster Eugene O'Neill Theatre Leon
1985 Chekhov's The Three Sisters Los Angeles Theatre Center Baron Tuzenbach
1986 Michel de Ghelderode's Barabbus Los Angeles Theatre Center Pontius Pilate and The Watcher
1987 Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie Los Angeles Theatre Center Gentleman caller
1989 Christopher Durang's The Marriage of Bette and Boo Los Angeles Theatre Center Father Donnally and The Doctor
2002 Paul Osborn's Mornings at Seven Lyceum Theater and Ahmanson Theatre Homer
2002 Shaw's Heartbreak House Theater 40 Capt. Shotover
2003 Sally Nemeth's Holy Days Theater 40 Gant [16]
2019 Angela J. Davis' The Spanish Prayer Book Road Theater Los Angeles Alexander [17]

Writing credits[edit]

Year Title Notes
1984 Two Idiots in Hollywood Stage play and film
1986 True Stories Film

Directing credits[edit]

Year Title Notes
1984 Two Idiots in Hollywood Stage play at Theatre Los Angeles
1984 Beth Henley's The Miss Firecracker Contest Stage play at Manhattan Theatre Club
1987 Beth Henley's The Lucky Spot Film
1988 Two Idiots in Hollywood Film
2003 Jim McLure's Blue Silence Stage play at Theater 40


  1. ^ "The Tobolowsky Files Ep. 29 – The Classic". Archived from the original on June 18, 2010. Retrieved June 3, 2010.
  2. ^ "iTunes - Podcasts - The Tobolowsky Files by PRI". Retrieved April 24, 2013.
  3. ^ "Big Problems". Retrieved September 28, 2017.
  4. ^ Tablet Magazine: "The Stephen Show Episode 92: Actor Stephen Tobolowsky tells us what it’s really like being Jewish in Hollywood and Esquire writer Stephen Marche breaks down modern gender dynamics" by Stephen Marche retrieved June 2, 2017
  5. ^ Currey, Mason (October 3, 2012). "Stephen Tobolowsky: What I learned in the seventh grade". Retrieved April 24, 2013.
  6. ^ Cohen, Susan (November 7, 2012). "Character actor Stephen Tobolowsky writes his first book". Charleston City Paper. Retrieved April 24, 2013.
  7. ^ "Stephen Tobolowsky". Retrieved November 23, 2018.
  8. ^ Dolsten, Josefin (May 18, 2016). "Who Was Prominent Dallas Lawyer Ira Tobolowsky – and Did 'Jihad' Man Want Him Dead?". Forward. Retrieved July 6, 2016.
  9. ^ a b Thompson, Jamie (May 2017). "A Place Where Something Evil Happened". / D Magazine.
  10. ^ A New Hi (Dallas 1971)
  11. ^ Phipps, Keith (August 2, 2011). "Random Roles Stephen Tobolowsky". The A.V. Club. Retrieved August 3, 2011.
  12. ^ Tobolowsky, Stephen (September 16, 2010). "Op-Ed Contributor - They Had Great Character". New York Times. Retrieved February 8, 2011.
  13. ^ Chapman, Glen (March 16, 2010). "Celebrating Stephen Tobolowsky". Den of Geek. Retrieved February 8, 2011.
  14. ^ Public Radio International® signs actor, writer Stephen Tobolowsky to create new storytelling series for radio,; accessed April 8, 2015.
  15. ^ "The Tobolowsky Files Ep. 85 - The Resume". Retrieved October 13, 2020.
  16. ^ "In 'Holy Days,' a story full of grit and grace". Los Angeles Times. August 19, 2004. Retrieved October 14, 2020.
  17. ^ "The Spanish Prayer Book". Retrieved October 14, 2020.

External links[edit]