Michael Richards Celebrity

Credits  |  Biography

For years, this wacky, manic comic actor was beloved for his indelible portrayal of Kramer, the high-strung next-door neighbor to the title character on Seinfeld. During his nine seasons on the legendary sitcom, this formerly little-known performer became… (more)

Birth Name: Michael Anthony Richards

Birth Place: Los Angeles, California, United States

Birthday: July 24, 1949, Leo

Profession: Actor, Comedian

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Biography

For years, this wacky, manic comic actor was beloved for his indelible portrayal of Kramer, the high-strung next-door neighbor to the title character on Seinfeld. During his nine seasons on the legendary sitcom, this formerly little-known performer became a recognizable star and won three Emmys. Unfortunately, Richards' post-sitcom career stalled from the get-go, with a short-lived, eponymous series and then nothing until November 2006, when he had an on-stage, racially charged breakdown that was caught on video and subsequently disseminated over the Internet. While performing a stand-up routine at The Laugh Factory in Los Angeles, Richards became enraged when two black audience members began heckling him. He responded by verbally attacking them, repeating the N-word several times, until they—and most of the other patrons—began leaving the club. Ultimately, Richards stormed off the stage, but by then the damage had been done. Despite a quick apology on Late Night With David Letterman and discussions with leaders in the black community, it appeared Richards had irreparably damaged his reputation. In 2007 he announced his retirement from stand-up comedy.

Fast Facts

  • First became interested in acting after taking an eighth-grade drama class.
  • Was drafted into the Army in 1970; served for two years in Germany.
  • Lost the role of Al Bundy on Married...With Children to Ed O'Neill.
  • Appeared alongside Larry David in the early '80s sketch-comedy series Fridays. David went on to create Seinfeld and cast Richards in his breakthrough role as Kramer. Richards won the part when he stood on his head in the middle of his 1989 audition and continued with his lines as if nothing had happened.
  • Wore one of two pairs of shoes in every episode of Seinfeld. One pair was for filming in the studio, the other for outdoors.
  • The title role on Monk was reportedly written for Richards, but ultimately went to Tony Shalhoub.

Awards

  • 1996, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series: Nominee
  • 1995, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series: Nominee
  • 1994, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series: Winner
  • 1997, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series: Winner
  • 1995, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series: Nominee
  • 1997, Emmy — Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: Winner
  • 1996, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series: Winner
  • 1993, Emmy — Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: Winner
  • 1995, Emmy — Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: Nominee
  • 1994, Emmy — Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: Winner
  • 1996, Emmy — Outstanding Supporting Actor for a Comedy Series: Nominee
  • 1997, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series: Nominee

Relationships

  • William Richards — Father
  • Cathleen Richards — Ex-wife
  • Sophia Richards — Daughter
  • Antonio Baz Richards — Son
  • Beth Skipp — Fiancée
  • Phyllis Richards — Mother

College

  • Attended California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, California, United States; Evergreen State College, Olympia, Washington, United States (BA in Liberal Arts, 1976)

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