Though he is most famous for the supremely theatrical best-selling 1970s album Bat Out of Hell, Meat Loaf has been acting almost as long as he has been singing. Born Marvin Lee Aday in Dallas, accounts regarding his stage name place its origins in either a childhood nickname or a high school football incident. Either way, by the time Meat Loaf moved to Los Angeles at age 20 to pursue music, the moniker had stuck. After the first band he formed broke up, Meat Loaf found work on stage in the road company of the notorious late-'60s rock musical Hair. Landing in New York in the early '70s, Meat Loaf continued to do theater while trying to make it in the music world. After playing the part on stage, Meat Loaf made his movie debut as the ill-fated Eddie in the flop-turned-midnight movie classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975). Two years later, Meat Loaf's music took precedence with the release of Bat Out of Hell (1977). Powered by several dramatic singles, Bat Out of Hell became one of the all-time top-selling albums. Various problems, including writer's block, though, turned Meat Loaf's focus back to movies in the late '70s. After appearing in the comedy flop Americathon (1979), Meat Loaf starred in Alan Rudolph's comedy Roadie (1980). While he managed to make several albums in the 1980s, none of them came close to Bat Out of Hell's popularity. Meat Loaf's 1980s movies, including the vehicle Dead Ringer (1982) and the Anthony Michael Hall thriller Out of Bounds (1986) did not fare well, either. Meat Loaf filed for bankruptcy, but his slide towards obscurity began to reverse itself in the early '90s. Meat Loaf's presence in the Steve Martin evangelist comedy-drama Leap of Faith (1992) signaled his arrival as an estimable character actor. His music career also revived by the best-selling Bat Out of Hell II: Back to Hell (1993), Meat Loaf once again turned his attention to singing; his mid-'90s albums suffered the same fate as his 1980s oeuvre. By the late '90s, Meat Loaf, often credited as Meat Loaf Aday, returned to acting in an eclectic mix of films. Along with co-starring as a criminal in the Patrick Swayze actioner Black Dog (1998), Meat Loaf played supporting roles in the Sharon Stone-Kieran Culkin drama The Mighty (1998), the offbeat ensemble piece Outside Ozona (1998), and the Spice Girls romp Spice World (1998). Finding a balance between movies and music, Meat Loaf did a segment of VH1's Storytellers that resulted in a 1999 CD and earned positive notices for his performances as a bigoted sheriff in Crazy in Alabama (1999) and the physically freakish but genuinely sympathetic Robert Paulsen in David Fincher's controversial Fight Club (1999). It was this cultish role that guaranteed him supporting work in both high-octane genre fare (Formula 51, The Salton Sea) as well as uncompromising indies (Focus) for the next decade or so.
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by Lucia Bozzola biography