Family & Companions
A steady force in the stand-up comedy world for two decades, Howie Mandel's contributions to entertainment also included work as a dramatic actor, a charismatic television host and the creator of one of television's cutest animated pre-schoolers. Mandel was first known for his role as a quirky young doctor on the Emmy winning medical drama "St. Elsewhere" (NBC, 1982-88) before he created and starred in the Saturday morning animated favorite "Bobby's World" (Fox Kids, 1990-99). Mandel delivered steady laughs with cable comedy specials for HBO and Showtime, and served as a prankster correspondent on "The Tonight Show" (NBC, 1955-), even as several attempts at sitcoms and talk shows failed to materialize. In 2005, Mandel used his experience as an improviser and endearing jokester to claim huge success as the host of the wildly popular nighttime game show "Deal or No Deal" (NBC, 2005-09).
Born on Nov. 29, 1955, Mandel was raised in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. As a kid, the future comedian was anything but a class cut-up, thanks to suffering from undiagnosed OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). He was mystified and self-conscious about his repeated hand-washings and other repetitive rituals, forcing a retreat into his own imagination. By the time he reached high school, Mandel began acting out. His behavior got him expelled from several schools before he finally quit altogether and took a job as a carpet salesman. But the type of wacky behavior that failed to go over well with teachers eventually found a more receptive audience at Yuk Yuk's comedy club in Toronto. Mandel began performing regularly, creating his trademark child voices, R-rated musings, and absurd physical comedy that including putting a surgical glove over his head and inflating it with his nostrils.
As the Hollywood rumor goes, the carpet salesman traveled to Los Angeles in 1979 and on a whim took the stage at an open mic night at the famed career launching pad, The Comedy Store. Among the receptive audience members was a producer on the game show "Make Me Laugh" (Syndicated, 1979-1980), who recruited Mandel to come onto the show and try to break-up the straight-faced group of contestants. He made nearly a dozen appearances on the show while his comic reputation grew with appearances in comedy clubs throughout the country and as an opener for top musical acts, including Diana Ross. After a stint on the short-lived sketch comedy show "Laugh Trax" (syndicated, 1982-83), where he got even more mileage out of his rubber gloves, Mandel was surprisingly, but effectively cast on the ensemble medical drama "St. Elsewhere." His performance was considerably toned down from the Mandel audiences were used to. But he did offer some comic relief as a young doctor in the Emmy-winning series that paved the way for subsequent medical dramas focusing on medical staffers as real people instead of infallible heroes.
During the six year run of the show, Mandel maintained a busy schedule of comedy tours and film work, providing the voice of Gizmo in "Gremlins" (1984) and co-starring opposite Ted Danson in Blake Edwards' unsuccessful homage to Laurel and Hardy, "A Fine Mess" (1986). A cable comedy mainstay, Mandel headlined "On Location: Howie Mandel" (HBO, 1986), and "HBO Comedy Hour: Howie From Maui - Live!" (1987), while trying to establish himself in features with the slapstick comedy "Walk Like a Man" (1989) and as the prankish monster under Fred Savage's bed in "Little Monsters" (1989). His one-man shows still proved to be the best showcase for his comedy and he scored again with "Howie Mandel: Hooray for Howiewould!" (Showtime, 1990). After reviving Gizmo in "Gremlins 2: The New Batch" (1990), he launched his own short-lived sitcom "Good Grief" (Fox, 1990-91), which failed to find the comic side of mortuary workers.
But it was another collaboration with the Fox network that launched one of Mandel's biggest career successes - the animated children's series "Bobby's World" (Fox Kids, 1990-99). The show was based on a favorite voice from Mandel's stand-up set and featured this endearing pre-school alter ego in tales of childhood written and produced by Mandel. The successful series topped the network's Saturday morning ratings and ran for nine years - not counting its syndication in over 65 countries - with Mandel at the helm. While producing "Bobby," the notorious workaholic created another children's series, the live-action "The Amazing Live Sea Monkeys" (CBS, 1992-93). In 1994, Mandel headed a sketch troupe for the series "Howie Mandel's Sunny Skies" (Showtime, 1994-96), which aired strictly in Canada. He continued a rigorous touring schedule, unveiling a new comedy special, "Howie Mandel on Ice" (HBO, 1997), and brought his unique persona to memorable guest performances on "Homicide: Life on the Streets" (NBC, 1993-99), "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman" (ABC, 1993-97), "The Outer Limits" (Sci-Fi Channel, 1994-2002) and "The Nanny" (CBS, 1993-2000).
At the height of the daytime talk show frenzy, Mandel landed his own one-hour vehicle, "The Howie Mandel Show" (syndicated, 1997-99). But despite a positive critical response, the show failed to catch on with audiences and was pushed out of an already crowded market. Mandel took another stab at features, starring in "Tribulation" (2000), a straight-to-video apocalyptic thriller, and a low-budget retelling of the fable "Hansel & Gretel" (2002). He returned to the small screen with regular "man on the street" appearances on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" (NBC, 1991-2014) and expanded on the idea by creating the series "Hidden Howie: The Private Life of a Public Nuisance" (Bravo, 2003-05). Part "Curb your Enthusiasm" (HBO, 2000- ) and part "Punk'd" (MTV, 2003-07), the comic misfire centered on Mandel's real-life career with the help of a fictitious wife (Julie Warner) and manager, while Mandel played hidden-camera pranks on unsuspecting people. Neither as smart nor subversive as its inspirations, "Hidden Howie" was cancelled after only one season.
But by year's end, Mandel's visibility was at an all-time high when he was cast as the host of the American version of the game show "Deal or No Deal" (NBC, 2005-08). With his background in comedy, drama, and improvisation with regular people on the street, Mandel proved to be a perfect anchor for the tense, but simple game that asked contestants to randomly choose one of 26 briefcases filled with varying amounts of money, from one penny to $1 million dollars. "Deal" was an instant ratings hit when it premiered in December of 2005, and by the following year Americans had themselves a new catch phrase ("Deal or no deal?") as well as a new favorite show to watch three nights a week. After several years helming the steady favorite, in 2008, Mandel was recognized with his first Emmy nomination for Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program - the first award of its kind. Although Mandel lost to "Survivor" (CBS, 2000- ) host Jeff Probst, he and his other fellow nominees were asked to co-host the actual Emmy Awards themselves - a prestigious honor in Hollywood circles.
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While visiting Los Angeles, performed on an amateur night at The Comedy Store
Booked for several appearances on the syndicated game show "Make Me Laugh"
Made feature film debut in the Canadian movie "Gas," co-starring Susan Anspach and Donald Sutherland
First 'VeeJay' to appear on Nickelodeon's music video series, "Pop Clips"
Earned national attention in the US with his role on "St. Elsewhere" (NBC) as Dr. Wayne Fiscus
Voiced the character of Gizmo in the hit film, "Gremlins"
Voiced Bunsen Honeydew, Animal and Skeeter in Jim Henson's "Muppet Babies" (Nickelodeon), left for unknown reason after Season two
Made a cameo in the Michael J. Fox directed short "The Iceman Hummeth"
First leading role in a feature, "Walk Like a Man"
Toured the U.S. with his comedy show "Velcro of Love"
Reprised the character of Gizmo in the sequel "Gremlins 2: The New Batch"
Created and produced the Emmy-nominated children's series "Bobby's World" (FOX), also voiced the title character and his father
Cast as the professor on "The Amazing Live Sea Monkeys" (CBS)
Appeared on his own sketch comedy show, "Howie Mandel's Sunny Skies" (Showtime)
Hosted his own syndicated talk show, "The Howie Mandel Show"
Appeared as himself on "Hidden Howie," the Improv Comedy Show which aired on Bravo; also executive produced
Hosted the NBC game show "Deal or No Deal"; earned an Emmy nomination in 2008 as Host for a Reality/Competition Program
Received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (September)
Co-hosted the 60th Emmy Awards with fellow reality show hosts
Replaced David Hasselhoff on NBC's "America's Got Talent," joining Sharon Osbourne and Piers Morgan