Gene Simmons is best known as the co-founder and arguable leader of the rock band Kiss (he's the one who wears the "demon" makeup and spits blood on-stage, among other antics). After the band became popular in the late '70s, Simmons embarked upon a relatively short-lived acting career that began with the made-for-TV movie Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park (1978). He made his solo acting debut as a villain in Never Too Young to Die (1986). He went on to play villains in more films until his acting began interfering with his music. Simmons was born Chaim Witz in Israel but was raised in the U.S. After graduating from college, he spent a few months teaching sixth grade, but then left to become a musician.
Biography by Sandra Brennan
- Worked as an editorial assistant for Vogue and Glamour magazines in the early 1970s.
- Released self-titled debut album with KISS, featuring hits like "Strutter" and "Deuce," in 1974.
- Helped discover Van Halen and produced the band's 15-song demo; also briefly managed Liza Minnelli's recording career.
- He and entertainment-industry veteran Richard G. Abramson started a marketing firm; their most prominent client was the Indy Racing League.
- His on-stage KISS character is known as "The Demon."
- Has been instrumental in securing licensing for more than 2,800 KISS-related products.
- Appeared on Celebrity Apprentice in 2008, but was fired in the third episode.
- Claims to have never used cigarettes, drugs or alcohol.
- In 2010, joined with KISS member Paul Stanley to plot out a children's TV program with E1 Television.