Eugene Levy

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Eugene Levy
Levy in 2011
Born (1946-12-17) December 17, 1946 (age 77)
Alma materMcMaster University
Occupations
  • Actor
  • comedian
Years active1969–present
Spouse
Deborah Divine
(m. 1977)
Children

Eugene Levy CC (born December 17, 1946[1]) is a Canadian actor and comedian. Known for portraying flustered and unconventional figures, Levy has won multiple accolades throughout his career including four Primetime Emmy Awards, a Grammy Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award. He was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2011, and was made Companion of the Order of Canada in 2022.[2][3]

Levy started his career writing and acting in the Canadian television sketch series SCTV (1976–1984), earning two Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series. He also appeared in the films National Lampoon's Vacation (1983), Splash (1984), and Multiplicity (1996). He also became known for co-writing and appearances in a string of films with Christopher Guest, including Waiting for Guffman (1996), Best in Show (2000), A Mighty Wind (2003), and For Your Consideration (2006). He also appeared in the American Pie series of films.

From 2015 to 2020, he starred as Johnny Rose in the sitcom Schitt's Creek, a comedy series that he co-created with his son and co-star Dan Levy. In 2019 and 2020, he was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, which he won in 2020. He also received the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series. In 2023, he began hosting a travel documentary series The Reluctant Traveler.

Early life[edit]

Levy was born to a Jewish family[4] in downtown Hamilton, Ontario.[5] His mother, Rebecca (née Kudlatz),[6] was a homemaker,[7] and his father, Joseph, was a foreman at an automobile plant.[7][8] He has a brother, Fred, and sister, Barbara.[9] His mother was born in Glasgow, Scotland, to Polish Jewish parents, later moving to Canada.[6] His father was Sephardi Jewish, with ancestors from Spain and Bulgaria.[10]

Levy attended Westdale Secondary School, where he was student council president.[7] He subsequently attended McMaster University.[5] He was vice-president of the McMaster Film Board, a student film group, where he met filmmaker Ivan Reitman.[11]

Career[edit]

Levy at the American Reunion film premiere in 2012

The 1972–1973 Toronto production of the hit musical Godspell opened at the Royal Alexandra Theatre and was intended to be a run of a few dozen performances for a subscription audience. The cast was drawn entirely from local performers, instead of a touring cast. The Toronto production launched the careers of many actors, including Levy, Victor Garber, Andrea Martin, Gilda Radner, Dave Thomas, and Martin Short, as well as the show's musical director, Paul Shaffer.[12] Howard Shore played saxophone for this production. After an enthusiastic response from the audience, the scheduled run at the Royal Alexandra ended and the show moved uptown to the Bayview Playhouse in Leaside. The Bayview Playhouse production ran until August 1973, with a then-record run of 488 performances.[12]

An alumnus of both the Second City, Toronto and the sketch comedy series Second City Television, Levy often plays unusual supporting characters with nerdy streaks. Perhaps his best-known role on SCTV is the dimwitted Earl Camembert, a news anchor for the "SCTV News" and a parody of real-life Canadian newsman Earl Cameron. Celebrities impersonated by Levy on SCTV include Perry Como, Ricardo Montalbán, Alex Trebek, Gino Vannelli, Sean Connery, Howard Cosell, Henry Kissinger, Menachem Begin, Bud Abbott, Milton Berle, John Charles Daly, Gene Shalit, Judd Hirsch, Jack Carter, Muammar al-Gaddafi, Tony Dow, James Caan, Lorne Greene, Rex Reed, Ralph Young (of Sandler and Young), F. Lee Bailey, Ernest Borgnine, former Ontario chief coroner and talk show host Dr. Morton Shulman, Norman Mailer, Neil Sedaka and Howard McNear as Floyd the Barber.

Original Levy characterizations on SCTV are news reporter Earl Camembert, comic Bobby Bittman, scandal sheet entrepreneur Dr. Raoul Withers, "report on business" naïf Brian Johns, 3-D horror auteur Woody Tobias Jr., cheerful Leutonian accordionist Stan Schmenge, lecherous dream interpreter Raoul Wilson, hammer-voiced sports broadcaster Lou Jaffe, diminutive union patriarch Sid Dithers ("San Francisckie! Did you drove or did you flew?"), fey current-events commentator Joel Weiss, buttoned-down panel show moderator Dougal Currie, smarmy Just for Fun emcee Stan Kanter, energetic used car salesman Al Peck, guileless security guard Gus Gustofferson, Phil the Garment King (also of Phil's Nails), and the inept teen dance show host Rockin' Mel Slirrup.

Though he has been the "above the title" star in only two films, Armed and Dangerous (1986) and The Man (2005), he has featured prominently in many films. He is the co-writer and frequent cast member of Christopher Guest's mockumentary features, particularly A Mighty Wind, where his sympathetic performance as emotionally unstable folksinger Mitch Cohen won kudos; his accolades included a Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor – Musical or Comedy and the prestigious New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor. In the 1980s and 1990s, he appeared in Splash, National Lampoon's Vacation, Club Paradise, Stay Tuned, Multiplicity, the American Pie film series, Serendipity, and other comedies. Levy was the creator of Maniac Mansion, a television sitcom based on the LucasArts video game of the same name. He was also seriously considered for the role of Toby Ziegler on The West Wing, a role that went to actor Richard Schiff.

Levy, along with his son Dan Levy, is co-creator of the CBC/Pop TV sitcom Schitt's Creek. He also stars in the show alongside his son as head of the Rose family, Johnny Rose. His daughter, Sarah Levy, portrays Twyla Sands, the waitress at the Schitt's Creek diner.[13] Eugene Levy's brother Fred is also a producer on the show.[9]

Levy hosted and executive produced an Apple Original eight-episode travel series titled The Reluctant Traveler (2023) on Apple TV+.[14]

In 2024, Levy attended a ceremony honoring him with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.[15]

Personal life[edit]

Levy married Deborah Divine[16] in 1977.[17] Divine's career has been in TV production.[17] The couple has two children whom they raised in Toronto: actors Dan and Sarah, both of whom starred alongside their father on Schitt's Creek.[16]

Levy is an advocate for autism awareness and treatment.[18] He was a close friend of actor and fellow SCTV cast member John Candy. Levy is a member of the Canadian charity Artists Against Racism.[19]

In 2021, he was named honorary mayor of Pacific Palisades.[20]

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Key
Denotes films that have not yet been released
List of Eugene Levy film credits
Year Title Role Notes
1971 Foxy Lady Coffee Boy
1973 Cannibal Girls Clifford Sturges
1979 Running Richie Rosenberg
1980 Nothing Personal Marty
Deadly Companion Matt
1981 Heavy Metal Captain Lincoln F. Sternn, Male Reporter, Edsel Voice[21]
1983 National Lampoon's Vacation Ed, a car salesman
Going Berserk Sal DiPasquale
1984 Splash Walter Kornbluth
1986 Club Paradise Barry Steinberg
Armed and Dangerous Norman Kane
1987 Bride of Boogedy Tom Lynch
1989 Speed Zone Leo Ross
1991 Father of the Bride Singer at Audition
1992 Once Upon A Crime Casino Cashier Uncredited; Also director
Stay Tuned Crowley
1994 I Love Trouble Ray, the Justice of the Peace
1995 Father of the Bride Part II Mr. Habib
1996 Multiplicity Vic
Waiting for Guffman Dr. Allan Pearl Also writer
1998 Almost Heroes Guy Fontenot
Holy Man Guy on background TV Uncredited
Richie Rich's Christmas Wish Professor Keanbean Direct-to-video
1999 The Secret Life of Girls Hugh Sanford
Dogmatic Larry
American Pie Noah Levenstein
2000 Silver Man Leon
Best in Show Gerry Fleck Also writer
The Ladies Man Bucky Kent
2001 Down to Earth Keyes
Josie and the Pussycats Himself
American Pie 2 Noah Levenstein
Serendipity Bloomingdales Clerk
2002 Repli-Kate Jonas Fromer / Repli-Jonas
Like Mike Frank Bernard
2003 Bringing Down the House Howie Rottman
A Mighty Wind Mitch Cohen Also writer
Dumb & Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd Principal Collins
American Wedding Noah Levenstein
2004 New York Minute Max Lomax
2005 The Man Andy Fiddler
American Pie Presents: Band Camp Noah Levenstein Direct-to-DVD
Cheaper by the Dozen 2 Jimmy Murtaugh
2006 Curious George Clovis Voice[21]
Over the Hedge Lou Voice[21]
For Your Consideration Morley Orfkin Also writer
American Pie Presents: The Naked Mile Noah Levenstein Direct-to-DVD
2007 American Pie Presents: Beta House
2009 Gooby Mr. Nerdlinger
Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian Albert Einstein Bobbleheads Voice[21]
Taking Woodstock Max Yasgur
Astro Boy Orrin Voice[21]
American Pie Presents: The Book of Love Noah Levenstein Direct-to-DVD
2011 Goon Dr. Glatt
2012 American Reunion Noah Levenstein
Madea's Witness Protection George Needleman
2015 Being Canadian Himself Documentary
2016 Finding Dory Charlie Voice[21]
2017 Goon: Last of the Enforcers
2018 Love, Gilda Himself Documentary
2020 The War with Grandpa
2021 Star-Crossed: The Film Doctor
2024 Summer Camp Post-production

Television[edit]

List of Eugene Levy television credits
Year Title Role Notes
1975–1979 King of Kensington Bernie / Freddie Cohen 2 episodes
1976 The Sunshine Hour Various
1976–1977 Stay Tuned Various
1976–1984 SCTV Various Also writer
1985 The Last Polka Stan Shmenge Television film; also writer
George Burns Comedy Week Robert Episode: "Home for Dinner"
Martin Short: Concert for the North Americas Stupid Eddie / Buddy Voice, television special
1986 Billy Crystal: Don't Get Me Started Morty Arnold Television special
1987 The Disney Sunday Movie Tom Lynch Episode: "Bride of Boogedy"
1988 The Ray Bradbury Theater Bert Harris Episode: "Skeleton"
1992 I, Martin Short, Goes Hollywood Studio Head Voice, television special
Partners 'N' Love David Grodin Television film
Camp Candy Pete, Shmenge, Bruno, Stan Bobby Bittman Voice, 4 episodes
1993 Maniac Mansion Doc Ellis Episode: "Freddie Had a Little Lamb"
Also creator, writer, director, and executive producer
1994 The Martin Short Show Directed two episodes
1995 Harrison Bergeron President McCloskey Television film
1996 Road to Avonlea Rudy Blaine Episode: "King of the Great White Way"
1996–1997 Duckman Dr. Craig Ehrlich Voice, 2 episodes
1997 Nightmare Ned Mr. Nickels Voice, episode: "Magic Bus"
1997–1998 Hiller and Diller Gordon Schermerhorn 13 episodes
1998 Mad About You Doctor Episode: "Nat & Arley"
Hercules King Midas Voice, episode: "Hercules and the Golden Touch"
The Drew Carey Show Dr. Rider Episode: "The Engagement"
1999 The Wonderful World of Disney Larry Episode: "Dogmatic"
2000 Dilbert Plug Guard Voice, episode: "The Return"
2002 Off Centre Dr. Barry Wasserman 2 episodes
2002–2004 Greg the Bunny Gil Bender 13 episodes
2012 I, Martin Short, Goes Home Mr. Mortimer Rickards Television special
2013–2014 Package Deal McKenzie 3 episodes
2014 Working the Engels Arthur Horowitz Episode: "Meet Irene Horowitz"
2015–2020 Schitt's Creek Johnny Rose 80 episodes; also creator, writer, and executive producer
2020 The Ellen DeGeneres Show Himself / Guest Host January 10, 2020; standing in for Ellen DeGeneres
2021 Saturday Night Live Himself / Cameo Episode: "Dan Levy/Phoebe Bridgers"[22]
2023–present The Reluctant Traveler Himself Apple TV+ travel series
2023 Human Resources Paul Crumbhorn Voice, 6 episodes
TBC Only Murders in the Building Recurring role[23]

Other[edit]

List of other Eugene Levy appearances, performances, and credits
Year Title Role Notes Ref.
1993 The Wacky World of
Miniature Golf with Eugene Levy
Performer Voice; Philips CD-i game
1996 Creature Crunch Brian, additional characters Voice; PC game [24]
2015 R40 Live Rockin' Mel – Host Emcee of early 1970s era spoofed rock show
2020 Canada: Far and Wide Narrator Voice; short film at Epcot

Awards and nominations[edit]

Levy, along with Christopher Guest and Michael McKean, was awarded the 2003 Grammy Award for Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media for the title song from A Mighty Wind. Levy received the Governor General's Performing Arts Award, Canada's highest honour in the performing arts, in 2008.[25]

In March 2006, it was announced that he would receive a star on Canada's Walk of Fame. In 2002, the entire cast of SCTV was given a group star, and although Levy is not mentioned on the actual star, he was still inducted as a part of the group. This makes him one of only four two-time honourees, alongside fellow SCTV alumni John Candy, Martin Short, and Catherine O'Hara. Levy is one of only a handful of people who have won at least five Canadian Comedy Awards, including two for Best Writing (Best in Show in 2001 and A Mighty Wind in 2004) and three for Best Male Performer (Best in Show, American Pie 2 in 2002, and A Mighty Wind).

In 2008, the Governor General of Canada presented Levy with the Governor General's Performing Arts Awards (GGPAA), a lifetime achievement award considered "for their outstanding body of work and enduring contribution to the performing arts in Canada.".[26] In 2010, Levy was awarded the ACTRA Award by the union representing Canada's actors.[27] In 2011, Levy was made a Member of the Order of Canada "for his contributions as a comic actor and writer, and for his dedication to charitable causes" and promoted to the rank of Companion in 2022.[28][29]

On May 22, 2012, Levy delivered a commencement address at Dalhousie University, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and was awarded the degree Doctor of Laws (honoris causa). On June 11, 2012, Levy was presented with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal by the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.[30]

On March 13, 2016, Levy took home the award for "Best Performance by an Actor in a Continuing Leading Comedic Role" at the 4th Annual Canadian Screen Awards, for his performance as Johnny Rose in the CBC/Pop TV sitcom Schitt's Creek.[31]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Seringhaus, Claire; Wise, Wyndham (May 1, 2015) [January 18, 2012]. "Eugene Levy". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved February 10, 2023.
  2. ^ "Governor General Announces 50 New Appointments to the Order of Canada" (Press release). Ottawa: The Governor General of Canada. June 30, 2011. Archived from the original on July 3, 2011.
  3. ^ "Order of Canada appointees – December 2022". The Governor General of Canada. December 29, 2022. Retrieved December 29, 2022.
  4. ^ Rosen, Steven (November 16, 2006). "Want to spoof Purim and the Oscars? Be our Guest!". The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. 21 (39). Retrieved November 16, 2006.
  5. ^ a b Arnold, Steve (May 15, 2015). "Eugene Levy: 'No idea this was something I could do for a living'". cjnews.com. Canadian Jewish News. Retrieved September 22, 2020.
  6. ^ a b Gallacher, Stevie. "Star of TV comedy Schitt's Creek pays kilted tribute to his Scottish gran as show is showered with awards". The Sunday Post – via sundaypost.com.
  7. ^ a b c "Ditz Hits". People.com. Vol. 60, no. 6. August 11, 2003. Archived from the original on March 9, 2011. Retrieved February 2, 2021.
  8. ^ Shoard, Catherine (April 26, 2012). "Eugene Levy: 'American Pie got kinda graphic'". The Guardian. Retrieved February 2, 2021.
  9. ^ a b "Eugene Levy on Playing the Straight Man in 'Schitt's Creek'". Time. Retrieved September 24, 2020.
  10. ^ "Sarah Levy Names Her Baby After Jewish Dad Eugene Levy". July 7, 2022.
  11. ^ "1960s and '70s: McMaster produces funnymen Short, Levy, Thomas, Reitman and Candy". The Hamilton Spectator. September 23, 2016. ISSN 1189-9417. Retrieved January 3, 2019 – via thespec.com.
  12. ^ a b "Toronto's Legendary Production of GODSPELL". Godspell1972 (WordPress).
  13. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (January 9, 2015). "Eugene Levy & Son On 'Schitt's Creek': "We'll Never Know Where The Town Is" – TCA". Deadline. Retrieved December 2, 2016.
  14. ^ "Apple TV+ travel series "The Reluctant Traveler," hosted by Emmy Award winner Eugene Levy, to premiere on February 24, 2023". Deadline. December 13, 2022. Retrieved January 19, 2023.
  15. ^ Arsenych, Alex (March 9, 2024). "Eugene Levy receives star on Hollywood Walk of Fame for 'life spent making people laugh'". News. Retrieved March 20, 2024.
  16. ^ a b Telling, Gillian (January 11, 2019). "Eugene Levy Was a Strict Dad to Son and Schitt's Creek Costar Daniel: 'I Would Ground Him a Lot'". People.com. Retrieved February 2, 2021.
  17. ^ a b Keegan, Kayla (February 1, 2021). "Eugene Levy and His Wife Deborah Divine Were Strict Parents With Their Kids Dan and Sarah". goodhousekeeping.com. Retrieved February 2, 2021.
  18. ^ "Eugene Levy to be autism treatment spokesman". CTVNews.ca. CTV Television Network. June 12, 2007. Retrieved December 18, 2016.
  19. ^ "Artists". artistsagainstracism.org. Artists Against Racism.
  20. ^ Creei, Toi. "Eugene Levy Named as Honorary Mayor of Pacific Palisades". Palisades News. Palisades News. Retrieved February 8, 2021.
  21. ^ a b c d e f "Eugene Levy (visual voices guide)". Behind The Voice Actors. Retrieved December 18, 2023. A green check mark indicates that a role has been confirmed using a screenshot (or collage of screenshots) of a title's list of voice actors and their respective characters found in its opening and/or closing credits and/or other reliable sources of information.
  22. ^ "'Saturday Night Live' Books John Krasinski, Dan Levy, Phoebe Bridgers, Regina King for First Shows of 2021". January 22, 2021. Retrieved January 22, 2021.
  23. ^ Piña, Christy (February 27, 2024). "Eugene Levy Joins 'Only Murders in the Building' Season 4". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 1, 2024.
  24. ^ "The Name's Part Of The Game Computer Game 'Creature Crunch' Lands Martin Short". Spokesman.com. Retrieved March 7, 2017.
  25. ^ "Eugene Levy biography". Governor General's Performing Arts Awards Foundation. Retrieved February 10, 2015.
  26. ^ "Eugene Levy: 2008 Lifetime Artistic Achievement (Broadcasting)". Retrieved September 10, 2018.
  27. ^ "ACTRA to give Eugene Levy Award of Excellence in Los Angeles". Archived from the original on September 5, 2012. Retrieved May 27, 2012.
  28. ^ "Appointments to the Order of Canada". June 30, 2011.
  29. ^ "Order of Canada appointees – December 2022". Governor General of Canada. December 29, 2022. Archived from the original on December 29, 2022. Retrieved December 29, 2022.
  30. ^ "Diamond Jubilee Gala toasts exceptional Canadians". CBC. June 18, 2012. Retrieved June 19, 2012.
  31. ^ "The Canadian Screen Awards: Call 'Em The 'Candys' From Now On". The Huffington Post. Archived from the original on December 2, 2016. Retrieved December 2, 2016.

External links[edit]