His role as the cherubic, bespectacled Dilbert-esque everyman on the long-running sitcom The Drew Carey Show has endeared comedian Drew Carey to the downtrodden cubicle-dwelling masses everywhere, making him one of the most beloved and popular characters in '90s and '00s television. However, Carey's massive success didn't come without some harrowing struggles with depression and numerous suicide attempts during his dark and directionless early years. Born and raised in Cleveland, OH, Carey suffered a devastating early blow when his father died of a brain tumor when Carey was only eight years old. Working long overtime hours to provide Drew and his brothers with the best childhood possible, his mother's frequent absence found the depressed youngster spending many nights home alone seeking solitude in cartoons and comedy albums.
Upon entering Cleveland's Rhodes High School, Carey spent much of his free time playing coronet and trumpet in the school's marching band. Enrolling in Kent State and joining the Delta Tau Delta fraternity upon graduation, Carey found great difficulty balancing his studies and personal life, with his lack of direction compounding his depression and resulting in another suicide attempt before being expelled twice and dropping out of school with no degree. Subsequent years found the aimless youth drifting across the country with dreams of stability slowly fading from his horizon, but a return to Cleveland resulted in newfound hope when Carey decided to make a last-ditch effort and immerse himself in self-help books. Signing up with the Marine Corps Reserves in 1980 provided Carey with just the discipline that he needed, and following a six-year service and some newly instilled confidence, a close friend working in radio asked Carey to write some jokes to use on-air. Honing his skills and becoming increasingly focused on channeling his energy into humor, Carey took his act to local comedy clubs and, after winning an open-mic contest, began working as emcee at the Cleveland Comedy Club in 1986.
The following years found Carey moving frequently between Cleveland and Los Angeles and gaining increasing recognition on the comedy circuits. Offered the rare privilege of joining Johnny Carson on the couch following a 1991 appearance on The Tonight Show proved a career-defining moment, and after a series of HBO specials and television appearances, Carey joined forces with writer/producer Bruce Helford (who had worked on such successful sitcoms as Family Ties and Roseanne), and in 1995 The Drew Carey Show was born. Endearing himself to television audiences with his small-town persona and everyman attitude, The Drew Carey Show quickly became one of the most popular sitcoms on television. Though his success may have been beyond any of his wildest dreams during his clouded formative years, Carey remained loyal to his hometown, always maintaining a level head. Serving as host of the American version of the massively popular British improvisational comedy show Whose Line Is It Anyway? (frequently featuring his Drew Carey Show cohort Ryan Stiles), Carey's small-screen presence increased, and appearances on such television comedy specials as Drew Carey's Improv All Stars and The New York Friar's Club Roast of Hugh M. Hefner (both 2001) ensured audiences that Carey's humor was as sharp and in tune as ever. Aside from his small-screen work, Carey has appeared in such comic features as Coneheads (1993). The September 1997 release of his autobiography, entitled Dirty Jokes and Beer: Stories of the Unrefined, provided fans with detailed and humorous insight into Carey's sometimes dark past, and emergency angioplasty in mid-2001 found the well-loved comedian going under the knife but making a quick recovery. In the summer of 2007, Carey's emcee experience paid off, as he was named the host of the venerable game show The Price Is Right, replacing much-loved Bob Barker. He also hosted the game show Power of 10, and in 2011 he appeared in the Adam Sandler comedy Jack and Jill.