While still attending high school in Toronto, Rick Moranis held down a part-time job as a radio engineer. After working as a solo nightclub comic and radio deejay, Moranis joined the Second City comedy troupe, which lead to his television bow in 1980 on the syndicated weekly Second City TV. Like his SCTV colleagues, Moranis' strong suit was his versatility, though his early fame rested on a single characterization. Grudgingly honoring a Canadian regulatory requirement that Second City TV include a sequence of "identifiable Canadian content" in each episode, Moranis and Dave Thomas created the characters of Bob and Doug McKenzie, a pair of beer-guzzling, back-bacon-chewing "hosers" who allegedly represented certain Canadians. The largely improvised McKenzie brothers segments scored an immediate hit, spawning a 1983 feature film Strange Brew, which Moranis and Thomas starred in, co-wrote and co-directed. Since leaving Second City TV, Moranis has pursued a successful film career, usually playing clueless or self-involved nerds. He played reluctant "ghost host" Louis Tully in the two Ghostbusters films, was cast as Seymour Krelboin in the 1986 musical version of Little Shop of Horrors, and was seen as eccentric inventor Wayne Szalinski in Honey I Shrunk the Kids (1989) and its sequel Honey I Blew Up the Kid (1992). Even in his 40s, Moranis convincingly portrayed geekish losers-turned-winners in such films as Little Giants (1994) and Big Bully (1995). He played a convincing live-action version of Barney Rubble in The Flintstones (1994). In 1997, he reprised Wayne Szlalinski in Disney's third installment of their now direct-to-video series Honey We Shrunk Ourselves. Having lost his wife Ann to liver cancer in 1991, the beloved character actor subsequently retreated from the spotlight to raise their two children, emerging only occasionally for vocal work on projects like The Animated Adventures of Bob and Doug McKenzie and Brother Bear (both 2003), or to record his Grammy-nominated country album The Agoraphobic Cowboy.
photo credit: George De Sota/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
by Hal Erickson biography