Family & Companions
John Pankow was an American actor who was best known for his long-running TV roles on the popular shows "Mad About You" (NBC, 1992-99) and "Episodes" (Showtime, 2011-17). Born in St. Louis and raised in the Chicago suburb of Park Ridge, Pankow grew up in a big German-Irish family; he was the sixth of nine siblings. He lived a relatively normal middle-class childhood, and never had any intention on becoming a professional actor. That all changed, however, when he saw an early version of David Mamet's iconic play "The American Buffalo" performed at the St. Nicholas Theater in Chicago. Upon leaving the theater Pankow knew immediately that he wanted to become a professional actor, and soon after signed up for a two-year acting training program at the St. Nicholas Theater. Before long Pankow was appearing in plays both in Chicago and off-Broadway, and by the mid-80s was making a substantial living for himself as a film actor. Among the more notable movies he appeared in during this time included "To Live and Die in L.A." (1985), "The Secret of My Success" (1987), and "Talk Radio" (1988). Pankow continued acting mostly in movies well into the early 1990s, until landing his first big break in 1993 when he was asked to join the cast of the NBC sitcom "Mad About You." Pankow played Ira Buchman, brash cousin of star Paul Reiser's Paul Buchman, on 143 episodes of the Emmy Award-winning series. After "Mad About You" ended its run in 1999, Pankow spent the next decade working steadily in both films and TV, before returning to TV full-time once again in 2011 on the Showtime comedy "Episodes." He played Merc Lapidus on the Emmy Award-nominated series, which premiered its fifth and final season in August of 2017.
Cast (Feature Film)
Film Production - Construction/Set (Feature Film)
Misc. Crew (Special)
Stage debut, "Two Gentlemen of Verona" in NYC
Cast in the Off-Broadway production, "The Slab Boys" which also featured Sean Penn and Kevin Bacon
Starred on Broadway as Mozart in "Amadeus"
TV debut in dramatic special, "Life on the Mississippi"
Feature film debut, "The Chosen"
Played featured role in "To Live and Die in L.A."
Appeared in Oliver Stone's "Talk Radio"
Appeared in the recurring role of Paul's cousin Ira in the NBC sitcom "Mad About You"; character made a series regular beginning with the 1993-94 season
Appeared Off-Broadway in Peter Hedges' comedy "Baby Anger" (summer)
Played Jennifer Aniston's boyfriend in "The Object of My Affection"
Acted in the New York Shakespeare Festival staging of "Measure for Measure" in Central Park (June-July)
Played Merc Lapidus on Showtime's "Episodes"