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Denis Colin Leary (born August 18, 1957) is an Americanmarker actor, comedian, writer, and director. He is known for his often biting comedic style and his chain smoking. Leary is the star and co-creator of the television show Rescue Me now in its fifth season.


Early life

Leary was born in Worcester, Massachusettsmarker, the son of Irish Catholic immigrants. His mother, Nora, was a maid, and his father, John Leary (deceased), was an auto mechanic. Since both of his parents are from Killarneymarker, County Kerrymarker, Irelandmarker, Leary holds both Irishmarker and Americanmarker citizenship. He graduated from Saint Peter-Marian High Schoolmarker, in Worcester. Through marriage, Leary is a third cousin of talk show host Conan O'Brien and has jokingly said on Late Night with Conan O'Brien that, "All Irish people are related."

Emerson College

Leary is a graduate of Emerson Collegemarker, in Bostonmarker, where he was classmates with fellow comic Mario Cantone, who remains his close friend. Comedian Steven Wright and actress Gina Gershon also attended Emerson at the same time as Leary. At the school, he and Jodi Haffner co-founded the Emerson Comedy Workshop, a troupe that continues on-campus as of at least 2009. After graduating with the Emerson Class of 1979, he took a job at the school teaching comedy writing classes and maintained the job for five years. Leary was honored with an honorary doctorate and spoke briefly at his alma mater's undergraduate commencement ceremony on May 16, 2005 and is credited as "Dr. Denis Leary" on the cover of his 2009 book, Why We Suck.


Leary started his career as a comedian in the Boston comedy scene of the 1980s, where he hosted his own show at the underground club "Play It Again Sam's". He also wrote and appeared on a local comedy series, Lenny Clarke's Late Show, hosted by his friend Lenny Clarke and written by Boston comedy writer Martin Olson. Leary and Clarke both spoke about their early affiliations and influences in the Boston comedy scene in the documentary film When Standup Stood Out (2006). It was during this time that he developed his stage persona. He also appeared in skits on the MTV game show Remote Control, playing such characters as Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, the "brother" of co-host Colin Quinn, and artist Andy Warhol.

Leary first earned fame when he ranted about R.E.M. in an MTV sketch. Several other commercials for MTV followed, in which Leary would rant at high speeds about a variety of topics. He has released two records of his stand-up comedy: No Cure for Cancer (1993) and Lock 'n Load (1997). In late 2004, he released the EP Merry F#%$in' Christmas, which included a mix of new music, previously unreleased recordings, and some tracks from Lock 'n Load.

In 1993, his sardonic song about the stereotypical American male, "Asshole," achieved much notoriety. It was voted #1 in an Australian youth radio poll (the Triple J Hottest 100) as well as reaching #2 in the singles chart in that country. The video also became a staple of MTV's late-night programming. Due to its explicit and controversial content, however, it received limited airplay on mainstream American radio stations. At the 2004 Comics Come Home event in Boston, Massachusetts, Leary performed a new version of the song directed at the New York Yankees baseball team, and as the song concluded, Bronson Arroyo walked on stage with the World Series trophy. The song was also used as part of the Holsten Pils series of ads in the UKmarker, in which Leary was participating, with adapted lyrics criticizing a drunk driver.

Although he claims to be most at home on stage doing stand-up, Leary has appeared as an actor in over 40 movies, including The Sandlot, as Scott's stepfather Bill, Monument Ave., The Matchmaker, The Ref, Suicide Kings, Dawg, Wag the Dog, Demolition Man, The Thomas Crown Affair and Operation Dumbo Drop. He has had the lead role in two television series, The Job and Rescue Me. In addition, Leary has provided voices for characters in animated films, such as a fire-breathing dragon named Flame in the The Agents series, a prehistoric saber-toothed cat named Diego in the Ice Age film trilogy, and the pugnacious ladybug Francis in A Bug's Life. He has produced numerous movies, television shows, and specials through his production company Apostle; these include Comedy Central's Shorties Watchin' Shorties, the stand-up special Denis Leary's Merry F#$%in' Christmas, and the movie Blow. As a Boston Red Sox fan, he narrated the official 2004 World Series film. In 2006, Leary and Lenny Clarke appeared on television during a Red Sox telecast and, upon realizing that Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis is Jewish, delivered a criticism of Mel Gibson's antisemitic comments. As an ice hockey fan, Leary also hosted the National Hockey League video NHL's Greatest Goals.In 2003, Comedy Central honored Leary with the Comedy Central Roast of Denis Leary. Friend Jeff Garlin acted as roastmaster. Roasters included Mario Cantone, Adam Ferrara, Dane Cook, Jim Breuer, Nick DiPaolo, Don Gavin, Christopher Walken, Lenny Clarke, Gina Gershon, Conan O'Brien, Jon Stewart, Gilbert Gottfried, Colin Quinn, and Michael J. Fox.

As of 2004, Leary is the star and co-creator of the FX cable-network series Rescue Me. He plays Tommy Gavin, a New York Citymarker firefighter dealing with alcoholism, family dysfunction, and other issues in post-9/11 New York City. Leary received Emmy nominations in 2006 and 2007 for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for his performance. For this TV series, he turned down roles in two films: The Departed (Mark Wahlberg got the role after Leary turned down the role) and Bobby, which his close friend Emilio Estevez directed.

Leary did the TV voiceover for MLB 2K8 ads, where he used his trademark rant style in baseball terms, and ads for the 2009 Ford F-150 pickup truck. He has also appeared in commercials for Hulu and DirecTV's NFL Sunday Ticket package. Leary was a producer of the Fox Broadcasting series Canterbury's Law and wrote and directed its pilot episode. Canterbury's Law aired in the spring of 2008 and was canceled after eight episodes.

On September 9, 2008, Leary hosted the sixth annual Fashion Rocks event, which aired on CBS. During one part of the show, Leary came onstage dressed in a long gold halter dress and wearing diamond earrings and a bracelet; he carried a purse and a pair of high heels. In another segment, he let out a controversial rant about Britney Spears, the birth of Ricky Martin's twins, and David Duchovny going to rehab for sex addiction.

In December 2008, Leary appeared in a video on critiquing a list of some of his "best" films, titled "Denis Leary Remembers Denis Leary Movies".

In 2008, Leary was a guest star on The Simpsons. In this episode titled "Lost Verizon", the second episode of season 20, Leary was exaggerated as a "very epic" superstar.

On March 21, 2009 Leary began the "Rescue Me Comedy Tour" in Atlantic City, New Jerseymarker. The 11-date tour, featuring Rescue Me co-stars Lenny Clarke and Adam Ferrara, will be Leary's first stand-up comedy tour in 12 years.

Personal life

Denis Leary has been married to writer Ann Lembeck Leary since 1989. They met when he was her instructor for an English class at Emerson Collegemarker. They have two children, son John Joseph "Jack" (born 1990) and daughter Devin (born 1992). Ann Leary published a memoir, An Innocent, a Broad, about the premature birth of their son on an overseas visit to Englandmarker. She has also written a novel, Outtakes From a Marriage, which was published in 2008.

Leary is a ice hockey fan and has his own backyard hockey rink at his home in Connecticut with piping installed under the ice surface to help the ice stay frozen. His favorite National Hockey League team is the Boston Bruins. He is also a diehard Boston Red Sox fan, as well as a fan of the Green Bay Packers.

Leary is a libertarian. He has said, "I'm more interested in my issues than I am in the guy" and "I was a life-long Democrat, but now at my age, I've come to realize that the Democrats suck, and the Republicans suck, and basically the entire system sucks. But you have to go within the system to find what you want." Leary supported Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election.

Leary defines his religious beliefs as "I'm a lapsed Catholic in the best sense of the word. You know, I was raised with Irish parents, Irish immigrant parents. My parents, you know, prayed all the time, took us to mass. And my father would sometimes swear in Gaelic. It doesn't get more religious than that. But, no, after a while, they taught us wrong. I didn't raise my kids with the fear of God. I raised my kids with the sense of, you know, to me, Jesus was this great guy...".

Despite jokes he's made, Leary watches The Oprah Winfrey Show frequently and loves the program.

Leary Firefighters Foundation

On December 3, 1999, six firefighters from Leary's hometown of Worcester were killed in a massive warehouse fire. Among the dead were Leary's cousin Jerry Lucey and his close childhood friend Lt. Tommy Spencer. In response, the comedian founded the Leary Firefighters Foundation. Since its creation in the year 2000, the foundation has distributed over $2.5 million (USD) to fire departments in the Worcester, Boston, and New York Citymarker areas for equipment, training materials, new vehicles, and new facilities. Leary won $125,000 for the foundation on the game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Leary has close ties with 107.3 WAAF-FMmarker, which in 2000 released the station album "Survive This!" Part of the proceeds from this album were donated to the Leary Firefighters Foundation.

A separate fund run by Leary's foundation, the Fund for New York's Bravest, has distributed over $2 million (USD) to the families of the 343 firemen killed in the September 11, 2001, attacks in addition to providing funding for necessities such as a new mobile command center, first responder training, and a high-rise simulator for the FDNY's training campus. This new fund was established because the families of the Worcester fire did not want to include New York families into the fund. As a result, Leary created a separate fund for New York.

As the foundation's president, Leary has been active in all of the fundraising, usually presenting large checks and donated equipment personally. The close relationship he has developed with the FDNY as well as with individual firefighters across the New York/New Englandmarker area has resulted in Leary's most recent television show, Rescue Me, a Comedy-drama on FX. In the pilot episode of the show, he is seen wearing a Leary Firefighter Foundation 9-11 Memorial T-shirt.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Leary donated over a dozen boats to the New Orleans fire department to aid in rescue efforts in future disasters. The foundation also rebuilt entire NOLA firehouses.

Autism-remarks controversy

In his 2008 book Why We Suck: A Feel Good Guide to Staying Fat, Loud, Lazy and Stupid, Leary made a statement about autism that has angered many people.

In response to the controversy, Leary stated that the quote was taken out of context and that in that paragraph he had been talking about the trend of overdiagnosis of autism, which he attributed to American parents seeking an excuse for behavioral problems and underperformance. Later, he apologized to parents with autistic children whom he had offended.

Accusations of plagiarism

For many years, Leary had been friends with fellow comedian Bill Hicks. However, when Hicks heard Leary's No Cure for Cancer, he felt Leary had stolen his act and material. Hicks famously told an interviewer: "I have a scoop for you. I stole his (Leary's) act. I camouflaged it with punchlines, and to really throw people off, I did it before he did".

The friendship ended abruptly as a result.At least three stand-up comedians have gone on the record stating they believe Leary stole not just some of Hicks' material but also his persona and attitude. One similar routine was about the band Judas Priest, during which Hicks specifically says "I don’t think we lost a cancer cure."

During a 2003 roast of Denis Leary, comedian Lenny Clarke, a friend of Leary's, said there was a carton of cigarettes backstage from Bill Hicks with the message, "Wish I had gotten these to you sooner." This joke was cut from the final broadcast.

The controversy surrounding plagiarism is also mentioned in American Scream: The Bill Hicks Story, by Cynthia True:

Leary was in Montreal to host the "Nasty Show," at Club Soda, and Colleen was coordinating the talent so she was standing backstage when she heard Leary doing material that sounded incredibly similar to old Hicks riffs, including his perennial Jim Fixx joke: ("Keith Richards outlived Jim Fixx, the runner and health nut dude. The plot thickens."). When Leary came offstage, Colleen, more stunned than angry, said, "Hey, you know that's Bill Hicks' material! Do you know that's his material?" Leary stood there, stared at her without saying a word and briskly left the dressing room.

She reportedly said, upon hearing a tape of Leary's album No Cure for Cancer, "Bill was furious. All these years, aside from the occasional jibe, he had pretty much shrugged off Leary's lifting. Comedians borrowed, stole stuff and even bought bits from one another. Milton Berle and Robin Williams were famous for it. This was different. Leary had, practically line for line, taken huge chunks of Bill's act and recorded it."

In the August 2006 Playboy, an interviewer told Leary, "Much has been written about you and comedian Bill Hicks.... People have accused you of appropriating his persona and material." Leary replied:


Year Result Award Category Film/Show
2009 Nominated Golden Globe Awards Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television Recount (2008)
2008 Nominated Emmy Awards Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie Recount (2008)
2007 Nominated Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Rescue Me
2007 Nominated Satellite Awards Best Actor in a Series, Drama Rescue Me
2007 Nominated Prism Awards Performance in a Drama Series, Multi-Episode Storyline Rescue Me
2006 Nominated Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Rescue Me
2006 Nominated Satellite Awards Best Television Series, Drama Rescue Me
2006 Nominated Satellite Awards Best Actor in a Series, Drama Rescue Me
2006 Nominated Prism Awards Performance in a Drama Series, Multi-Episode Storyline Rescue Me
2005 Nominated Emmy Awards Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series Rescue Me
2005 Nominated Golden Globe Awards Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Drama Rescue Me
2005 Nominated Satellite Awards Best Actor in a Series, Drama Rescue Me
2005 Won Satellite Awards Best Ensemble - Television Rescue Me
2005 Nominated Satellite Awards Best Television Series, Drama Rescue Me
2005 Nominated Television Critics Association Awards Outstanding Achievement in Drama Rescue Me
2005 Nominated Television Critics Association Awards Outstanding New Program of the Year Rescue Me
2003 Nominated Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Voice from an Animated Movie Ice Age
2003 Nominated DVD Exclusive Awards Best Actor Double Whammy (2001)
2002 Nominated Television Critics Association Awards Individual Achievement in Comedy The Job
2002 Nominated Television Critics Association Awards Best New Show The Job
2000 Won Blockbuster Entertainment Awards Favorite Supporting Actor - Drama/Romance The Thomas Crown Affair (1999)
1996 Won CableACE Awards Best Directing: Comedy National Lampoon's Favorite Deadly Sins (1995)
1992 Won Edinburgh International Arts Festival Critic's Award No Cure for Cancer (1992)
1992 Won BBC Festival Recommendation Award No Cure for Cancer (1992)



Year Title Role Notes
1987 Long Walk to Forever Newt short film
1991 Strictly Business Jake cameo
1993 The Sandlot Bill
Who's the Man? Sergeant Cooper
Demolition Man Edgar Friendly
National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1 Mike McCracken cameo, performing You Really Got Me
Judgment Night Fallon
1994 The Ref Gus
Gunmen Armor O'Malley
Natural Born Killers Prison Inmate director's cut, cameo
1995 National Lampoon's Favorite Deadly Sins Jake TV-movie, also directed segment "Lust"
Operation Dumbo Drop CW3 David Poole
The Neon Bible Frank
1996 Underworld Johnny Crown/Johnny Alt
Two If by Sea Francis "Frank" O'Brien also writer
1997 The Second Civil War Vinnie Franko TV-movie
Love Walked In Jack Hanaway also producer
Subway Stories Guy in wheel chair TV movie, segment "The Red Shoes"
Wag the Dog Fad King
Suicide Kings Lono Veccio
The Real Blonde Doug
The MatchMaker Nick
1998 Monument Ave. Bobby O'Grady a.k.a Snitch, also uncredited writer
Wide Awake Mr. Beal
Small Soldiers Gil Mars
A Bug's Life Francis voice
1999 True Crime Bob Findley
Jesus' Son Wayne
Do Not Disturb Simon
The Thomas Crown Affair Det. Michael McCann
2000 Sand Teddy
Lakeboat The Fireman
Company Man Officer Fry
2001 Double Whammy Det. Raymond Pluto also uncredited producer
Final Bill performing Little Sister
2002 Dawg Douglas "Dawg" Munford a.k.a Bad Boy
Ice Age Diego voice
The Secret Lives of Dentists Slater
2003 When Stand Up Stood Out Himself documentary
The Curse of the Bambino Himself documentary
Reverse of the Curse of the Bambino Himself documentary (sequel)
2006 Ice Age: The Meltdown Diego voice
2008 Recount Michael Whouley TV-movie
2009 Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs Diego voice

Gross (films)

Year Title US Gross
1993 The Sandlot US$32.1 million
Demolition Man US$134.0 million
Judgment Night US$12.1 million
1994 Gunmen US$3.4 million
Natural Born Killers US$11.1 million
1995 The Neon Bible US$78,072
1997 The MatchMaker US$3.3 million
1998 Wide Awake US$58,212
Small Soldiers US$71.7 million
A Bug's Life US$162.7 million
1999 The Thomas Crown Affair US$69.3 million
2006 Ice Age: The Meltdown US$195.3 million

TV shows

Year Title Role Note(s)
1987 Remote Control Various roles All episodes
1990 Afterdrive Himself Talk show
1992 Tonight with Jonathan Ross 2 episodes
1998 The Late Late Show with Tom Snyder Himself Episode dated 24 April 1998
1998 Fantasy World Cup Himself Episode #1.15
1998 Space Ghost Coast to Coast Himself Episode: Waiting For Edward
2001-2002 The Rosie O'Donnell Show Himself Guest at two episodes
2001-2002 The Job Mike McNeil Also writer and producer

All episodes
2002 Contest Searchlight Fictionalized version of himself All episodes
2002 Crank Yankers Joe Smith (voice) Episode: 1.2
2004 Rescue Me Tommy Gavin nominated for Golden Globe and Emmy

also creator,producer and writer
2005 The Charlie Rose Show Himself one episode
Last Call with Carson Daly Himself two episodes (2004-2005)
The Tony Danza Show Himself episode dated 13 July 2005
The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch Himself one episode
2006 Rachael Ray Himself 1 episode
Late Show with David Letterman Himself 5 episode (2003, -4, -5, -6, -7)
Late Night with Conan O'Brien Himself 6 episode (1997-2007)
The Daily Show Himself 5 episode (2002, -3, -6, -7, -8)
Live with Regis and Kathie Lee Himself 2 episode
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Himself 6 episode (1997-2007)
2007 Jimmy Kimmel Live! Himself Episode dated 12 September 2007
The Ellen DeGeneres Show Himself Episode dated 2 October 2007
The View Himself 4 episodes (2005-2007)
2008 The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson Himself 3 episodes (two of them in last seasons)
The Simpsons Himself 1 episode - Lost Verizon
Family Guy Himself 1 episode
The Daily Show Himself 1 episode
The Bonnie Hunt Show Himself Episode dated 3 December 2008
Jimmy Kimmel Live! Himself Episode dated 3 December 2008
2009 The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien Himself Episode dated 29 October 2009

TV Commercials

  • Quaker State Motor Oil
  • MTV Promos (1991-93)
  • Lotus Notes
  • Holsten O'Pils beer
  • 2009 Ford F-150 (voice only)
  • Hulu 2009
  • Direct TV Sunday Ticket (2009)




External links

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