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Eddie Deezen (born March 6, 1958) is an American actor, comedian and voice actor, perhaps best remembered for perfecting the archetypal nerd role in such films as Grease, Midnight Madness and WarGames, as well as in a number of independent films throughout the 1980s and 1990s, including Surf II and several films by Fred Olen Ray.

As a voice actor, he is easily recognizable for his distinctively high-pitched and nasaly voice, most notably used for the characters of "Mandark" on the Cartoon Network series Dexter's Laboratory, Snipes the Magpie from Rock-A-Doodle, Ned in Kim Possible and "Lenny the Know-It-All" in the film The Polar Express.

Biography

Eddie Deezen was born Edward Harry Dezen in Cumberland, Maryland, the son of Irma and Robert Dezen.[1] A class clown in his youth, Deezen started out with aspirations of becoming a stand-up comedian and moved out to Hollywood within days of graduating High School (after adding an "e" to his last name so that people would pronounce it correctly) to pursue a career.[2] He performed at least three times at The Comedy Store, though eventually decided to abandon stand-up and focus on acting after bombing his last show and finding difficulty in remembering his lines.[3] Deezen attempted stand-up one last time, however, when he appeared on an episode of The Gong Show in the mid-1970s, only to be gonged by singer-songwriter Paul Williams.[3]

Hollywood career

Deezen landed his first and perhaps best known role in the movie Grease, playing the nerdy "Eugene Felnic", a part he won through a simple audition process.[4] During Grease's post-production, Deezen had a small part as a bully in the low-budget independent science fiction film Laserblast. Laserblast was released in March 1978, three months before the release of Grease, making this Deezen's first released film.

Following the massive success of Grease, Deezen found himself being cast in a string of high-profile films, including Robert Zemeckis' directorial debut I Wanna Hold Your Hand and Steven Spielberg's epic 1979 comedy 1941. Deezen was in such demand by 1979 that he was constantly having to turn down roles. At least two such notable instances were the characters of "Eaglebauer" in the cult classic Rock 'n' Roll High School (which was then given to Clint Howard)[5] and "Spaz" in Meatballs, both of which Deezen turned down to film 1941.[4]

The early 1980s saw Deezen perpetuating his nerd role in WarGames, Zapped! and Disney's Midnight Madness, as well as returning to the role of "Eugene Felnic" in Grease 2 in 1982. Deezen also landed a recurring role playing a goofy superintendent on the first season of Punky Brewster, voluntarily leaving the show by the end of the season due to his reluctance to perform before a live audience and inability to remember lines.[4]

Independent film

1983's WarGames proved to be the last mainstream film of Deezen's live-action career as he transitioned into independent film, starting with his first starring role in the 1984 cult film Surf II: The End of the Trilogy, where he played the evil mad scientist "Menlo Schwartzer".

1984 also marked the release of Revenge of the Nerds, the film that is generally credited with making the stereotypical "nerd" stock character a mainstay of teen films. Deezen remarked in an interview that he asked the producers of Nerds why they hadn't cast him in the film; their response was that Deezen was deemed "too geeky" for the movie…that they were looking to dress "normal people" up as nerds instead.[3][2] Despite this, Deezen says he is frequently "recognized" by strangers for being in the film.[6]

Deezen worked steadily throughout the remainder of the 1980s and early 1990s, showcasing his nerd persona in both bit roles and major roles, including Million Dollar Mystery, The Whoopee Boys and Happy Hour. He collaborated numerous times with comedian Tim Conway, appearing in several of his Dorf videos, and with low-budget filmmaker Fred Olen Ray, who gave Deezen more leading roles with the films Beverly Hills Vamp, Mob Boss and Teenage Exorcist.

To date, Deezen's last live-action appearance was a cameo in the 1998 Leslie Nielsen spoof Spy Hard, playing a security guard.

In a July 2009 interview,[7] Deezen revealed that he would return to acting in front of the camera, stating "The truth is, it is extremely tough to sustain a career in Hollywood. It is tough enough ever getting work, just the sheer odds. I loved John (Travolta) and Matthew (Broderick) and it would definitely be my pleasure to work with them again. Believe me, if the right role was there and available, I'd be there in a second."

Voice acting

In the mid-1980s, Deezen transitioned into voice acting, a change of pace he favored due to not needing to memorize dialogue and an impressive salary.[3] He occasionally lent his voice to various children's films, including Sesame Street Presents Follow That Bird and Don Bluth's 1991 Rock-A-Doodle, before finding full-time work on television in the mid-90s, supplying voice work for recurring characters on Grimmy, Duckman, Kim Possible and What's New, Scooby-Doo?, guest spots on many programs including Johnny Bravo, Recess and Darkwing Duck, and serving as the voice of "Pop" in commercials for Rice Crispies.[4]

Deezen's perhaps best-known voiceover role is that of "Mandark", the arch-nemesis of the eponymous Dexter on Cartoon Network's Dexter's Laboratory, a role he played for the series' entire run from 1996–2005, as well as the TV special Dexter's Laboratory: Ego Trip and the related video games Cartoon Network Racing and FusionFall.

In 2004, Deezen returned to the big screen once again under the direction of Robert Zemeckis to supply his voice and motion capture performance to the blockbuster film The Polar Express, playing the role of the nerdy "Know-It-All". He reprised this role for the subsequent video game.

Personal life

Deezen was born and raised in the Jewish faith, and is a member of the Church of Scientology.[8]

Deezen is a huge fan of The Beatles, proclaiming himself to be their "biggest fan"; he was interviewed for the unreleased 2005 film Me and Graham: The Soundtrack of Our Lives, a documentary about two filmmakers searching the US and UK for the ultimate Beatles fan.[2] For more than a year his official website featured a very difficult Beatles trivia quiz devised by Deezen himself, with a $100 prize should anyone answer all the questions correctly - Deezen revealed in a recent interview that nobody had ever won the prize.[3]

Deezen has been married to Linda George since March 6, 1984.

Filmography

Year Film Role Notes
1978 Laserblast Froggy Film debut
Grease Eugene Felsnic Filmed before Laserblast, but released afterwards
I Wanna Hold Your Hand Richard "Ringo" Klaus First collaboration with Robert Zemeckis
1979 Champions: A Love Story Eric Philpot TV movie
1941 Herbie Kazlminsky Second collaboration with Robert Zemeckis
1980 Midnight Madness Wesley
1981 Desperate Moves Red aka Rollerboy
"Homeroom" Ron Carp TV pilot
1982 Grease 2 Eugene Felsnic
Zapped! Sheldon
1983 WarGames Eddie Malvin
1984 Surf II Menlo Schwartzer Lead role
The Rosebud Beach Hotel Sydney
1985 A Polish Vampire in Burbank Sphincter Initially intended to be the star, but left the project after various financial troubles plagued the production. A few minutes of his original footage was kept in the final cut, and all his dialogue was dubbed by a sound-alike.
Mugsy's Girls Lane aka Delta Pi
Sesame Street Presents Follow That Bird Donnie Dodo (voice only)
1986 The Longshot Parking Attendant Cameo; first collaboration with Tim Conway
The Whoopee Boys Eddie Lipschitz
1987 Dorf's Golf Bible Waldo Second collaboration with Tim Conway
Happy Hour Hancock aka Sour Grapes
Million Dollar Mystery Rollie Major role; ensemble comedy
1988 Critters 2 Hungry Heifer Manager Cameo
Assault of the Killer Bimbos Dopey Deputy ("Walter")
1989 Hollywood Boulevard II Walter
Beverly Hills Vamp Kyle Carpenter Lead role
1990 Wedding Band Slappy the Clown Cameo
Dorf Goes Auto Racing Third collaboration with Tim Conway
Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective Himalayan Operator Cameo
Mob Boss Tony Anthony Lead role
1991 Rock-A-Doodle Snipes (voice only)
Teenage Exorcist Eddie Lead role
1994 Silence of the Hams Video Cameraman Cameo
Scooby-Doo in Arabian Nights Caliph (voice only)
1995 Mr. Payback: An Interactive Movie Phil the Guard Cameo; short film
The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes Agent Tucker TV movie; remake of the 1969 Disney film.
1996 Spy Hard Rancor Guard Who Gets Spit On Cameo; last live-action film appearance.
1997 The Brave Little Toaster to the Rescue Charlie (voice only)
1999 Dexter's Laboratory: Ego Trip Mandark (voice only)
2004 The Polar Express Know-It-All (voice only); Third collaboration with Robert Zemeckis
2005 Kim Possible Movie: So the Drama Ned (voice only)
Me and Graham: The Soundtrack of Our Lives Self Documentary film; not yet released.
2006 "Cartoon Network Racing" Mandark (voice only) Video game
2009 "Cartoon Network Universe: FusionFall" Mandark (voice only) Massively multiplayer online game

Television appearances

References

  1. Eddie Deezen Biography (1958 -) Film Reference
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Revenge of the '80s Radio. October 17, 2008 episode. www.revengeofthe80sradio.com.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Leibling, Adam. 'Eddie Deezen: Before Geek was Chic' READ Magazine.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Neibauer, James L. 'An Interview with Eddie Deezen' www.roguecinema.com.
  5. "Back to School: A Retrospective". Rock 'n' Roll High School DVD.
  6. The Radio Dan Show. Eddie Deezen Radio Interview radiodanshow.podomatic.com
  7. I Heart Chaos Eddie Deezen Interview www.iheartchaos.com
  8. Eddie Deezen - Scientology Profile. www.nndb.com

External links

Interviews

Script error

pl:Eddie Deezen

ro:Eddie Deezen fi:Eddie Deezen

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