A graduate of the University of New Hampshire, comedian-cum-actor Mike O'Malley discovered a passion for drama during his collegiate years. After completing university, O'Malley moved to Manhattan, did graduate studies in theater for two years, and toiled away at a lengthy series of menial jobs (one of which reportedly involved selling typewriters), meanwhile essaying scattered acting assignments on the side. Early work included a role as a spokesperson in television commercials (with some particularly high-profile spots for ESPN) and an emcee on children's programs including the Nickelodeon cable network's sports-themed series Guts. O'Malley's breakthrough arrived in late 1999, when NBC (doubtless encouraged by the success of Seinfeld and other standup-headlined sitcoms) signed him to executive produce, script, and star in his own eponymous television series, The Mike O'Malley Show; unfortunately, it bowed to horrendous reviews and ratings, and received almost immediate cancellation by the network.
Not long after, O'Malley moved into feature film work, with supporting roles in films including the Sandra Bullock alcoholism-themed seriocomedy 28 Days (2000), the George Clooney/Renee Zellweger period screwball comedy Leatherheads (2008) and the Eddie Murphy-headlined sci-fi comedy Meet Dave (2008). O'Malley then returned to NBC -- albeit not in a starring vein -- as a supporting cast member of the series drama My Own Worst Enemy (2008). That program starred Christian Slater as a victim of multiple personality disorder. And though occasional high profile film roles in Eat Pray Love and Cedar Rapids proved he had what it took to impress on the silver screen, it was O'Malley's guest appearance as Kurt Hummel's father Burt on Glee that earned the actor his first Emmy nomination in 2010, and led to a recurring role on one of television's most popular shows.