Michael Richards

Michael Anthony Richards (born July 24, 1949) is an American comedian and actor, who played Cosmo Kramer on the television show Seinfeld, a role which earned him three Emmy Awards.

Michael Richards was born in Culver City, California, to William Richards, an electrical engineer; and Phyllis Nardozzi, a medical records librarian. Richards was brought up with no specific religious tradition. He attended the California Institute of the Arts but received a BA degree in drama from The Evergreen State College in 1975. He also had a short-lived Improv act with Ed Begley, Jr. during this period. Enrolled at Los Angeles Valley College, he continued to dominate student productions. He later said: "I am grateful that the public schools introduced me to the performing arts." He was drafted during the Vietnam War and stationed in Germany as one of the co-directors of the V Corps Training Road Show. He produced and directed shows dealing with race relations and drug abuse; "This was a successful, educational operation, boosting the morale of our men and incorporating the arts into the service." He then spent two years in the Army developing educational skits, and a couple more years "finding himself" at a commune in the Santa Clara Mountains. In 1979, he drove a bus and developed a stand-up comedy act.

Richards got his big TV break nine months later, appearing in Billy Crystal's first cable TV special. In 1980, he began as one of the cast members on ABC's Fridays television show, including a famous instance in which guest Andy Kaufman refused to deliver his scripted lines, leading Richards to bring the cue cards on screen to Kaufman, before a small riot ensued (Richards later claimed he was in on the joke). He was also famous for a sketch that he did on the show, during which he simply improvised with a large pile of dirt and some army toys. Richards had a guest starring role on NBC's Miami Vice as an unscrupulous bookie. He also had a guest role on Cheers as a character trying to collect on an old bet with Sam Malone. He made several guest appearances with Jay Leno as an accident-prone fitness expert, and gained a screen credit portraying "Stanley Spadowski" in "Weird Al" Yankovic's movie UHF in 1989. His famous improvisation skills can be witnessed in this movie. As is confirmed in the feature commentary and in the deleted scenes special feature on the UHF DVD, the scene where Stanley Spadowski was playing with the toy man he found in the box of Corn Flakes was completely improvised by Michael.

In the same year, he was cast as Kramer (based on the real-life Kenny Kramer) in the NBC television series Seinfeld, which was created by fellow Fridays cast member Larry David and comedian Jerry Seinfeld. Although it got off to a slow start, by the mid-1990s, the show had become one of the most popular sitcoms in television history. The series ended its nine-year run in 1998 at #1 in the Nielsen Ratings. He also played himself in Episode 6 of Season 1 "The Flirt Episode" (1992) of the acclaimed HBO series, The Larry Sanders Show.

Richards also played a cameo role in So I Married an Axe Murderer where he was an "insensitive man," and had a supporting role as an escaped convict in the John Ritter movie Problem Child. He also made guest appearances on the popular sitcom Night Court.

In 2000, after the end of Seinfeld, Richards began work on a new series for NBC, his first major project since Seinfeld's high-profile finale. The Michael Richards Show, for which the actor received co-writer and co-executive producer credits, was originally conceived as a comedy/mystery starring Richards as a bumbling private eye. However, after the first pilot failed with test audiences, NBC ordered that the show be retooled into a more conventional, office-based sitcom before its premiere. After a few weeks of poor ratings and negative reviews, it was canceled.

The lead role in the series Monk was originally written for Richards, but there was concern that audiences, used to seeing him do comedy, might not accept him in the role. After being developed at ABC and then picked up by USA, the show was cast with Tony Shalhoub and became a critically acclaimed hit.

Starting in 2004, he and his fellow Seinfeld cast members have provided interviews and audio commentaries for the Seinfeld DVDs.

Richards married former casting director Cathleen Richards and they had a daughter, Sophia. The two were divorced in 1990 and he resides northwest of the San Fernando Valley, specifically the Conejo Valley, near Thousand Oaks, California. Richards is a Master Mason and also holds 33° in the Scottish Rite. He was very active in preservation of Masonic research, and in his personal life is an avid reader. Richards holds memberships in the following lodges: Riviera Lodge No. 780, Culver City–Foshay Lodge No. 467, as well as the Southern California Research Lodge. Additionally, he is also a Life Member of the Los Angeles Scottish Rite Valley and a Life Member of the Scottish Rite Research Society.

In November, 2006, during a performance at the Laugh Factory in West Hollywood, California, a cell phone video captured Richards shouting at an audience member, "Shut up", followed by "He's a nigger!" (using the word at least 7 times altogether), and also making a reference to lynching. He was addressing a group of black hecklers. There were retorts, "That was uncalled for" and then "fucking cracker-ass motherfucker." Richards made a public apology for his remarks, during an appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman. He described going into a rage and said, "For me to be at a comedy club and to flip out and say this crap, I'm deeply, deeply sorry." He explained he was trying to defuse heckling by being even more outrageous, but that it had backfired. Richards met with Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton in order to discuss personal issues related to the event.

Kyle Doss, one of the members of the group that Richards had addressed, gave his explanation to CNN of the events prior to the cell phone video. He said that they had arrived in the middle of the performance and that, "I guess we're being a little loud, because there was 20 of us ordering drinks. And he [Richards] said, 'Look at the stupid Mexicans and blacks being loud up there.'" Richards then continued with his routine. Doss added, "And, then, after a while, I told him, my friend doesn't think you're funny", which triggered Richards' outburst. Doss and a friend Frank McBride (also involved in the incident) engaged Gloria Allred to seek compensation from Richards but, as of February 2007, there has been no report that they have received any.

* 1980 Fridays TV Series
* 1982 Faerie Tale Theatre (TV) .... King Geoffrey, Vince
* 1982 Young Doctors in Love .... Malamud Callahan
* 1983 Herndon TV Series .... Dr. Herndon P. Stool
* 1984 The House of God .... Dr. Pinkus
* 1985 Transylvania 6-5000 .... Fejos
* 1986 Whoops Apocalypse .... Lacrobat
* 1986 Fresno (mini) TV Series .... 2nd Henchman
* 1987 Jonathan Winters: On the Ledge
* 1989 UHF .... Stanley Spadowski
* 1989 Seinfeld (TV) .... Cosmo Kramer
* 1990 Problem Child .... Martin Beck
* 1993 Coneheads .... Motel Clerk
* 1993 So I Married an Axe Murderer .... Newspaper reporter
* 1994 Airheads .... Doug Beech
* 1995 Unstrung Heroes .... Danny Lidz
* 1996 Ellen's Energy Adventure (uncredited) .... Caveman discovering fire
* 1996 London Suite (TV) .... Mark Ferris
* 1997 Redux Riding Hood (voice) .... The Wolf
* 1997 Trial and Error .... Richard 'Ricky' Rietti
* 2000 The Michael Richards Show TV Series .... Vic Nardozza
* 2000 David Copperfield (TV) .... Mr. Wilkins MicawberPermission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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