Though he's occasionally cast as eccentric urbanites, rotund character actor Glenn Shadix actually spent his childhood in rural Alabama. After acting in regional theater and waiting tables in New York, he moved to Los Angeles in his early twenties. He made his film debut with a bit part in the 1981 film remake of The Postman Always Rings Twice, but most of his time in the '80s was spent on-stage. One of his first starring roles was in drag as the famed American writer Gertrude Stein in Dr. Faustus Lights the Lights at the West Coast Ensemble Studio Theater. He earned an LA Weekly award for his performance. Young filmmaker Tim Burton saw the play and decided to cast him in his next film, Beetlejuice. The Deetz's vain interior designer Otho continues to be one of his most recognizable roles.
Joining Burton's circle of regulars, Shadix provided the voice of the mayor of Halloween Town in The Nightmare Before Christmas. He also developed a friendship with another young filmmaker named Michael Lehmann during a comedy improvisation project. He was cast in two of Lehmann's films: the black comedy Heathers, as funeral orator Father Ripper, and the suburban satire Meet the Applegates. After appearing in some of the biggest cult films of the early '90s, Shadix increased his exposure by guest starring on the popular television sitcoms Seinfeld and Cheers. He eventually played the regular role of gentle giant Typhon on the syndicated adventure series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. Back on the big screen, he played various eccentrics in family-friendly films like Bingo, It Runs in the Family, and Dunston Checks In. He also occasionally appeared in horror films (Sleepwalkers), science fiction (Demolition Man), and thrillers (Dark Side of Genius). Harking back to his stage roots, Shadix then appeared in two talky obscurities: the feminist film Men and the psychological drama The Empty Mirror. Moving toward more independent projects, he played a strange Southern sheriff in the crime comedy Rose's and a loud alcoholic in the drama Shut Yer Dirty Little Mouth. In 2001, he re-teamed with Burton to play Sentator Nado in the remake of Planet of the Apes. Working the convention circuit in support of his cult film status, Shadix traveled around the world. He also underwent gastric bypass surgery in order to lose over 100 pounds. In 2003, he appeared as an aging wardrobeman in Ruby Romaine Trailer Tales and as an stubborn councilman in Carnivàle, both on HBO.