David Alan Grier

Active - 1983 - 2022  |   Born - Jun 30, 1955 in Detroit, Michigan, United States  |   Genres - Comedy, Drama

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Biography by Lucia Bozzola

David Alan Grier may be best known as a dexterous TV comedy star, but he is also a multi-talented veteran of musicals, plays, and numerous films. Born in Detroit, Grier graduated with a B.A. in radio, TV, and film from the University of Michigan. Shortly after earning his master's degree at the Yale School of Drama, Grier made his Tony award-nominated Broadway debut in 1981, starring in the musical The First. Along with a stint in the hit musical Dreamgirls, Grier also did Shakespeare and acted in the off-Broadway drama A Soldier's Play. Moving to film, Grier earned the Venice Film Festival's Best Actor prize for his first feature, Robert Altman's Streamers (1983). Grier was subsequently one of several cast members to make the transition from stage to screen when A Soldier's Play was adapted into the critically lauded, Best Picture nominee A Soldier's Story (1984). Grier moved to lighter cinematic fare with a starring role in the advertising parody Beer (1985) and appeared in a series of undistinguished films, including From the Hip (1986) and Almost an Angel (1990).

Grier's brief role in Keenen Ivory Wayans' dead-on blaxploitation spoof I'm Gonna Git You Sucka! (1988), however, turned into an even more fruitful collaboration when Wayans cast Grier in his comedy sketch show In Living Color. Throughout In Living Color's 1990-1994 run, Grier created some of the show's most memorable characters, including flamboyant, circle-snapping critic Antoine Merriweather of "Men On. . ." Grier maintained his film career by appearing as himself in Altman's Hollywood satire The Player (1992) and co-starring in the Eddie Murphy vehicle Boomerang (1992), as well as Damon Wayans' superhero spoof Blankman (1994). After the show ended, Grier continued to alternate between TV and films, executive producing and starring in the short-lived series The Preston Chronicles (1995), as well as appearing in the Robin Williams hit Jumanji (1995). Grier re-teamed with his "Men On" cohort Damon Wayans for the latter's 1998 sitcom Damon, but it failed to match In Living Color's popularity. Grier notched a ratings hit, and got to display his dramatic chops with his performance as a Black Panther in the miniseries The 60s (1999). After appearing in the lackluster Rocky and Bullwinkle (2000) and Return to Me (2000), Grier took another shot at sitcom success as the title Secret Serviceman in DAG (2000). He subsequently tried starring in a number of sitcoms that failed to take off, but always found consistent supporting work, with recurring roles on Life with Bonnie, Crank Yankers, and in several feature films.

Grier also returned to the stage in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and in 2008, he was given his own show, a no-holds-barred mock-news program in the style of the Daily Show called Chocolate News, which presented both real and fictional news stories from an African American perspective. In 2009 he competed on the eighth season of the reality show Dancing With the Stars, and also appeared in the spoof film Dance Flick. He lent his voice to the animated project Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil.

Movie Highlights

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  • Played the role of James "Thunder" Early in Dreamgirls on Broadway in the early 1980s.
  • Made his film debut in Robert Altman's Streamers in 1983.
  • A cast member on the groundbreaking Fox sketch comedy In Living Color.
  • Was a frequent guest on the radio programs Loveline and the Adam Corolla Show.
  • Published his first book, Barack Like Me: The Chocolate Covered Truth, in 2009.
  • Is an art collector.