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Dana Thomas Carvey (born June 2, 1955) is an Americanmarker actor and comedian, best known for his work on Saturday Night Live and in the Wayne's World movies.

Early life

Carvey was born in Missoulamarker, Montanamarker, the son of Billie, a schoolteacher, and William Carvey, a high school business teacher. Carvey is the brother of Brad Carvey, the engineer/designer of the Video Toaster. The character Garth Algar (from the movie Wayne's World) is a loosely-based portrayal of Brad. Carvey was raised Lutheran. When he was three years old, his family moved to San Carlos, Californiamarker, in the San Francisco Bay Areamarker. He received his first drum kit at an early age. He attended Tierra Linda Junior High in San Carlos, Carlmont High Schoolmarker in Belmont, Californiamarker (where he was a member of the champion Cross Country team), College of San Mateo in San Mateo, CA, and received his Bachelor's degree in communications from San Francisco State Universitymarker.

In 1979, while performing at the Great American Music Hallmarker in San Francisco, he met Paula Zwaggerman, who would later become his wife. Soon after returning to the Bay Area in 1980, Dana and Paula were engaged. They have two sons together, Dex and Thomas, who were born in 1991 and 1993 respectively.

Early career

He had a minor role in Halloween II, and co-starred on One of the Boys in 1982, a short-lived television sitcom that also starred Mickey Rooney, Nathan Lane, and Meg Ryan. In 1984, Carvey had a small role in Rob Reiner's film This Is Spinal Tap, in which he played a mime, with fellow comedian Billy Crystal (who tells him "Mime is money!"). He also starred in the short-lived movie-based action show Blue Thunder.

Saturday Night Live

In 1986, Carvey became a household name when he joined the cast of NBC's Saturday Night Live. He, along with newcomers Phil Hartman, Kevin Nealon, Jan Hooks, and Victoria Jackson, helped to reverse the show's declining popularity and made SNL "must-see" TV once again. His breakout character was The Church Lady, the uptight, smug, and pious host of "Church Chat." Carvey said he based the character on women he knew from his church while growing up, who would keep track of the attendance of other church-goers. He became so associated with the character that later cast members like Chris Farley referred to Carvey simply as "The Lady."

Carvey's other original characters included Garth Algar (from "Wayne's World"), Hans (from "Hans and Franz"), and The Grumpy Old Man (from Weekend Update appearances).

During the 1992 US presidential election campaign, he did an impression of independent candidate Ross Perot; in a prime-time special before the election, Carvey played both George H. W. Bush and Perot in a three-way debate with Bill Clinton, who was played by Phil Hartman. As Perot, Carvey declined to say the show's signature "Live from New York" opening line, telling Carvey-as-Bush "Why don't you do it, live-boy?" Carvey left SNL in 1993.

In 1992, Carvey joined Mike Myers to bring their popular "Wayne's World" sketch to the silver screen with Wayne's World, the movie. A sequel was filmed and released in 1993, titled Wayne's World 2. After the two reprised their Wayne's World characters at the 2008 MTV Movie Awards (see below), Myers shot down rumors that there would be a second sequel.

Carvey's SNL work won him an Emmy in 1993 for "Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program." He has a total of six Emmy nominations.

He held the record for having said "Live from New York, it's Saturday Night!" most often, until Darrell Hammond surpassed him.

Celebrity impersonations

After SNL

NBC executives hoped to get Carvey to take over the 12:30 a.m. (ET) weeknight spot in the network's lineup in 1993 when David Letterman left his show, Late Night with David Letterman, for an 11:30 p.m. (ET) show on CBS. A big Letterman fan, Carvey rejected the offer, causing embarrassment for the network, which had publicly floated his name. The 12:30 spot eventually went to Conan O'Brien.

In 1994, Carvey starred in the film Clean Slate. The following year, in 1995, Carvey filmed his first HBO stand-up special, Critic's Choice. The show featured Carvey doing many of his SNL impersonations, as well as making fun of the premium station's name, pronouncing it "huhbo."

He reprised many of his SNL characters in 1996 for The Dana Carvey Show, a critically-acclaimed but short-lived prime-time variety show on ABC. The show was most notable for launching Robert Smigel's cartoon "The Ambiguously Gay Duo."

In 2002, he returned to films in the comedy Master of Disguise, which was panned by critics but managed about $40 million at the North American box office.

He is number 90 on Comedy Central's list of the 100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time.

Carvey would eventually withdraw from the limelight to focus on his family. He later said in an interview that he does not want to be in a career in which his kids would already be grown with him having neglected spending time with them.

At the January 2, 2007 funeral of Gerald Ford, George H. W. Bush reminisced in his eulogy about how Ford took it in stride when SNL's Chevy Chase made Ford the object of impressions. Bush cited this as a valuable lesson in learning to laugh at one's self as a part of public life. "I'd tell you more about that," Bush continued, "but as Dana Carvey would say, [imitating Carvey imitating him] 'Not gonna do it! Wouldn't be prudent!'".

Carvey made an appearance at the 2008 MTV Movie Awards, reprising his SNL character Garth Algar with host Mike Myers for a Wayne's World sketch. On June 14, 2008, Carvey filmed a second HBO stand-up special, the first in 13 years, entitled Squatting Monkeys Tell No Lies.

Heart problem

In 1997, he underwent open-heart surgery for a blocked artery, but the doctors operated on the wrong artery. Carvey, suffering from Angina pectoris, later sued for medical malpractice and was awarded $7.5 million. He has had to undergo a total of five medical procedures (four angioplasties and one surgery) to correct his heart problems. Carvey stated in an interview with Larry King that he donated all the money awarded to him to charity.


See also


  1. Dana Carvey Biography (1995-)
  2. CNN Transcript - Larry King Live: Dana Carvey Lives to Tell About Mistaken Bypass Surgery - June 29, 2000

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