He may have gotten his start in standup comedy by a fluke, but don't be fooled by his early good fortune -- funnyman Howie Mandel is certainly the real deal. From the stage to the screen, and virtually every medium in between, Mandel has not only proven adept at playing the clown, but with his enduring role on the popular 1980s television drama St. Elsewhere, straight and affecting drama as well. It was during a business trip to Los Angeles in 1979 that the Toronto native, goaded on by friends while watching the comics at The Comedy Store's amateur night, first took the stage to surprising effect. The wild card that evening turned out to be a producer who just happened to be in the crowd, and Mandel was immediately hired for an appearance on the popular comedy game show Make Me Laugh. He subsequently performed on television talk shows and opened for such luminaries as Diana Ross, and it wasn't long before he was approached to appear on the fledgling television drama St. Elsewhere. Cast as dedicated Dr. Wayne Fiscus, Mandel remained with the show that launched his career for the entire duration of its six-season run, gaining legions of fans and even a few Emmy nominations.
Though Mandel remained loyal to St. Elsewhere for the entirety of its television run, a series of side jobs provided his career with the momentum to succeed after the series was canceled in 1988. Mandel permanently ingrained himself in the pop-culture lexicon as the voice of Gizmo in the 1984 hit Gremlins and as a multitude of characters on the popular cartoon Muppet Babies. He cracked up audiences with a rollicking appearance on Comic Relief in 1986, and he could frequently be spotted on-stage sporting a blown up rubber glove over the top half of his head and slaying audiences with his hilarious baby voice. Although Mandel would try his hand at features with both Walk Like a Man (1987) and Little Monsters (1989), neither film proved the powerhouse hit needed to launch a feature career, and he returned to television to great success in the early '90s.
Mandel's love of children dictated most of his career choices in the 1990s, and in the first year of the decade he utilized his popular series of voices for the enduring children's television series Bobby's World (which ultimately went off of the air in 1998). In 1992, Mandel headlined the short-lived small-screen series Howie, and after a series of appearances in both features and made-for-television movies, he hosted both Howie Mandel's Sunny Skies and The Howie Mandel Show. Though none of his personal shows proved quite as successful or endearing as Bobby's World, Mandel remained in the public eye as both a popular comic and as the creator of a series of children's CD-ROMs that aimed to both educate and entertain.
In the year 2000, Mandel once again turned his attention to features, and appearances in Tribulation (2000), Hansel & Gretel (2002), and Pinocchio 3000 (2003) proved that the popular funnyman had lost none of his onscreen talent. Outside of his work in the entertainment industry, the color-blind verminophobic spends much of his time with his wife and three children.
Over the coming decade, Mandel would enjoy hosting duties of extremely successful shows like Deal or No Deal and America's Got Talent. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi