Child actor Frankie Muniz shot to stardom as the titular genius mired in a family of underachievers in Fox's single-camera smash sitcom Malcolm in the Middle. Able to mix his apple-cheeked features with intelligent acting, Muniz quickly became a darling to some critics. Other critics predicted he would become the Fred Savage of his generation, meaning he would fail to carry his childhood television success into an adult career. Francisco James Muniz IV was born on December 5, 1985, in Ridgewood, NJ. Raised in Knightdale, NC, Muniz found his interest in acting ignited by watching his older sister in a play. He was soon cast as Tiny Tim in a local production of A Christmas Carol, a role he reprised the next two seasons. Productions of The Sound of Music, The Wizard of Oz, and Our Town fleshed out his regional theater resumé. Muniz made his television debut in the made-for-TV movie To Dance With Olivia (1997), starring Lou Gossett Jr. He next appeared in the CBS Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation of What the Deaf Man Heard (1997). A small role in Lost & Found (1999) led up to the breakthrough that would make him a familiar face in millions of households. Fox premiered Malcolm in the Middle as a mid-season replacement in 2000, and the show was quickly swamped with accolades. Matriarch Jane Kaczmarek may have received the lion's share, but it was Muniz's job to anchor the show with his narration and his central role in many of the dysfunctional, envelope-pushing plots. He was twice nominated for Golden Globes in 2000 and 2001, and was honored with the Hollywood Reporter Young Star Award for his work in the series. Muniz's first starring role on the big screen was as Willie Morris in the family period piece My Dog Skip (2000), released right around the time of the Malcolm pilot. Muniz then contributed a voice to the animal cast of Dr. Dolittle 2 (2001). He had a moderate-sized hit with the 2002 release Big Fat Liar, which teamed him with Amanda Bynes as a pair of students seeking revenge on a sleazy movie producer (Paul Giamatti) who steals their idea. He was also part of the ensemble for the 2002 gang film Deuces Wild.