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Jason Alexander (born September 23, 1959) is an American award-winning television, cinema and musical theatre comedic actor, perhaps best known for his role as George Costanza on the hit television series Seinfeld.

Biography

Early life

Alexander was born Jay Scott Greenspan in Newark, New Jersey, the son of Ruth Minnie (née Simon), a nurse and health care administrator, and Alexander B. Greenspan, an accounting manager.[1] He has a half-sister, Karen Van Horn, and a half-brother, Michael Greenspan. Alexander is a 1977 graduate of Livingston High School in Livingston, New Jersey. He attended Boston University but left the summer before his senior year, after getting work in New York City. He was later given an honorary degree. He is a keen magician, and only switched to acting as a career when he realized that he was unlikely to succeed as a magician.[2]

Stage career

Alexander began his acting career on the New York stage and is an accomplished singer and dancer. On Broadway, he appeared in Stephen Sondheim's Merrily We Roll Along, The Rink, Neil Simon's Broadway Bound, Accomplice, and Jerome Robbins' Broadway, for which he garnered the 1989 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical. Returning to the stage in 2003, Alexander was cast in a successful run, opposite Martin Short, in the Los Angeles production of Mel Brooks' The Producers[3] Alexander also appeared with Kelsey Grammer in the 2004 musical adaptation of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol. He played Jacob Marley to Grammer's Ebenezer Scrooge.

Alexander continues to appear in live stage shows, including Barbra Streisand's memorable birthday party for Stephen Sondheim at the Hollywood Bowl, in which he appeared with Angela Lansbury, performing selections from Sweeney Todd. Alexander was recently named the Artistic Director of Reprise! Broadway's Best in Los Angeles, where he previously directed Sunday in the Park with George. He is scheduled to direct the upcoming revival of Damn Yankees at Reprise!

Television

Alexander is best-known as one of the key cast members of the phenomenally successful, award-winning television sitcom Seinfeld (1989-1998), in which he played George Costanza (the Jerry Seinfeld character's best friend since childhood). Concurrently with his Seinfeld role, Alexander provided the voice of the lead character in the cult animated series Duckman (1994-1997). Alexander also voiced Catbert, the evil director of human resources, in the short-lived Dilbert animated series based on the popular comic strip. He made cameo appearances in the second season of Curb Your Enthusiasm, playing himself.

Alexander co-starred with George Clooney and Elliot Gould in the short-lived CBS sitcom E/R from 1984-1985. He played Hospital Administrator Harold Stickley.

Alexander also had a part in the ABC sitcom Dinosaurs, as Al (Sexual) Harass (who frequently spoke about workplace sexual harassment). Despite a relatively successful career in film and stage, Alexander never managed to repeat his Seinfeld-level of success in television. 2001 marked his first post-Seinfeld return to prime-time television: the heavily-promoted-but-short-lived ABC sitcom Bob Patterson (which was canceled after just 5 episodes). His second chance as a t.v. series lead, the CBS sitcom Listen Up! (September 20, 2004 to April 25, 2005), also fell short of a second season. Based very loosely on the life of the popular sports-media personality Tony Kornheiser, Alexander was also the series' principal executive producer.

Alexander appears on the Family Guy: Live in Vegas CD singing a verse in the song "All Cartoons are Fuckin' Dicks". Alexander is credited with coining the term "asshat" in a well known blooper from the show "Seinfeld".

He was featured in the Friends episode "The One Where Rosita Dies" as a suicidal supply manager named Earl. Phoebe rings him trying to sell him toner and she learns about his problem and tries to convince him not to commit suicide. This is referred to in an episode of Malcolm in the Middle where Alexander appears as a neurotic and critical loner called Leonard. He describes himself as free and mentions that he makes money with a job "selling toner over the phone". Also in the episode, he is repeatedly harassed by a man named George - his character's name on Seinfeld.

Alexander appeared in the 1995 TV version of the Broadway musical "Bye Bye Birdie", as Conrad Birdie's agent, Albert Peterson.

Alexander appeared on Star Trek: Voyager on the episode "Think Tank" playing a genius alien named Kurros who was trying to get Seven of Nine to serve on his ship.

He appeared in the first episode of the short-lived 2002 revival of The Twilight Zone, playing Death. He featured in the 2005 Monk episode "Mr. Monk and the Other Detective" as Monk's eponymous rival, Marty Eels. On the June 26, 2006 episode of the Jimmy Kimmel Live talk show, Alexander demonstrated several self-defense techniques. He was also the Host of the 230th July 4, 2006 of the PBS July 4 "A Capitol Fourth" Celebrations in Washington, D.C. in which he sang, danced, and played tuned drums.

Alexander has appeared twice on Bravo's Celebrity Poker Showdown, winning the final table of the 8th season. In the process, Alexander won $500,000 for United Way of the greater New Orleans area, a charity. On August 6, 2006, Alexander signed on to feature as a regular cast member in the second season of Everybody Hates Chris. Alexander was the host of the Comedy Central roast of actor William Shatner on August 13, 2006 (first airdate: August 20, 2006). In 2007, Alexander was a guest star in the third episode of the improv comedy series Thank God You're Here. He is also a frequent guest and panelist on: Bill Maher's Politically Incorrect and Real Time shows; Hollywood Squares; the Late Late Show, with both Craig Kilborn and Craig Ferguson; and, the Late Show with David Letterman.

Movies

In addition to his roles as a misogynistic lawyer in Pretty Woman, co-starring with Richard Gere, and as the womanizer Mauricio in Shallow Hal, with Jack Black, Alexander has appeared in a litany of Hollywood film productions. They include Love! Valour! Compassion!, Dunston Checks In, The Last Supper Jacob's Ladder and "Hood of Horror". He has also dabbled in the art of directing, starting with 1996's For Better or Worse and 1999's Just Looking.


Other work

Alexander is also featured in country music star Brad Paisley's music videos "Celebrity" and "Online," the latter of which he directed and won the 2007 Country Music Association's Video of the Year Award.

In January 1995, Alexander did a commercial for Rold Gold pretzels to be broadcast during the Super Bowl. The commercial depicts Jason with Frasier dog "Eddie" jumping out of an airplane with a parachute over the stadium. After the commercial, we're brought back to a supposedly "live feed" of the playing field hearing startled sports commentators as we see Jason and the dog landing in the field to applause from the crowd.

In the summer of 2005, he appeared with Lee Iacocca in ads for DaimlerChrysler.

Alexander has also done a McDonald's commercial advertising the McDLT, in which he sings. He has also appeared in KFC commercials, including one with baseball superstar Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants and another one opposite Trista Rehn of The Bachelorette. It was rumored that he no longer appears in these commercials due to the alleged cruelty to animals by KFC suppliers and slaughterhouses, but he refuted that in Adweek [August 2, 2006]. Alexander said, "That's PETA bullcrap. I loved working for KFC. I was targeted by PETA to broker something between them. I think KFC really stepped up to the plate; unfortunately PETA did not."

He performed a mentalism and magic act at the Magic Castle in Hollywood, California on April 24-30 2006. He has been awarded the Parlor Magician of the year award at the Castle.

Alexander was the national spokesman for the Scleroderma Foundation, a leading organization dedicated to raising awareness of the disease and assisting those who are afflicted.

An avid poker player, Jason was also one of the "famous faces"[4] due to being a regular player on the online poker website Hollywood Poker which is run in conjunction with Ongame Network. Alexander also played in the 2007 World Series of Poker main event, but was eliminated on the second day.

Alexander is currently starring in "Jason Alexander's Comedy Spectacular" exclusive to Australia. This is a sold-out show where he performs stand-up, improvisation and demonstrates some of his Broadway musical talent. He is backed up by some well known Australian comedians. His first time performing a similar show of this nature was in 2006 for "Jason Alexander's Comedy Christmas." Both Alexander and his show have been receiving considerable media publicity in Australia and particularly Melbourne. He has expressed the great time he has had holidaying in Australia.

Jason Alexander was host of the LOL Sudbury opening night Gala in Sudbury, Ontario on May 29th, 2008 which was simulcast throughout Canada at 60 Cineplex theaters, a first for any comedy festival.


Personal life

He has been married to Daena E. Title since May 31, 1982. They have two children, Gabriel (b. May 1992) and Noah (b. February 1996).

He is also the uncle and godfather of the Irish born actor Stephen Mullan, who appeared in movies such as She's All That and Tigerland. His brother-in-law is actor/writer/director Jonathan Penner (husband to Daene Title's sister Stacy) who appeared on Survivor: Cook Islands and is currently starring in Survivor: Micronesia - Fans vs. Favorites.

According to an FX trivia question during a viewing of Shallow Hal, Alexander started losing his hair at the age of 16.


Filmography

The Burning - Dave (1981)
Senior Trip - Pete (1981)
The Mosquito Coast - Clerk (1986)
Brighton Beach Memoirs - Pool Player (1986)
Seinfeld - George Costanza (1989 - 1998)
Pretty Woman - Philip Stuckey (1990)
White Palace - Neil (1990)
Jacob's Ladder - Geary (1990)
I Don't Buy Kisses Anymore - Bernie Fishbine (1992)
Coneheads - Neighbor Larry Farber (1993)
Sexual Healing (1993)
For Goodness Sake (1993)
Duckman - Duckman - voice (1994 - 1997)
The Paper - Marion Sandusky (1994)
North (1994)
Blankman (1994)
The Return of Jafar - Abis Mal - voice (1994)
Bye Bye Birdie - Albert (1995)
The Last Supper (1995)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame - Hugo- (voice) (1996)
Dunston Checks In (1996)
For Better Or Worse (1996)
Love! Valour! Compassion! - Buzz Hauser (1997)
Denial - Art Witz (1998)
Dilbert - Catbert - voice (1999 - 2000)
Love and Action in Chicago - Frank Bonner (1999)
The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle - Boris Badenov (2000)
The Trumpet of the Swan - voice (2001)
Shallow Hal - Mauricio Wilson (2001)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame II - voice (2002)
The Man Who Saved Christmas (2002)
101 Dalmatians II: Patch's London Adventure - voice (2002)
A Christmas Carol - Jacob Marley (2004)
Everybody Hates Chris - Principal of School (2006 - 2007)
Thank God You're Here! - Improv comedy (2007)
The New Adventures of Old Christine (2008)

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