Alexander in 2009
Jay Scott Greenspan
September 23, 1959
Newark, New Jersey, U.S.
|Occupation||Actor, voice actor, comedian, singer, director|
Daena Title (m. 1982)
Jay Scott Greenspan (born September 23, 1959), known by his stage name Jason Alexander, is an American actor, voice actor, singer, comedian, and director. Alexander is best known for his role as George Costanza in the television series Seinfeld, for which he was nominated for six consecutive Primetime Emmy Awards and three Golden Globe Awards. Other well-known roles include Phillip Stuckey in the film Pretty Woman (1990) and the title character in the animated series Duckman (1994-1997).
Alexander has had an active career on stage, appearing in several Broadway musicals including Jerome Robbins' Broadway in 1989, for which he won the Tony Award as Best Leading Actor in a Musical. He appeared in the Los Angeles production of The Producers. He was the Artistic Director of "Reprise! Broadway's Best in Los Angeles", where he has directed several musicals.
Alexander was born in Newark, New Jersey, the son of Jewish parents Ruth Minnie (née Simon), a nurse and health care administrator, and Alexander B. Greenspan, an accounting manager whose first name Jay later borrowed to create his stage name. He has a half-sister, Karen Van Horne, and a half-brother, Michael Greenspan. Alexander grew up in Livingston, New Jersey, and is a 1977 graduate of Livingston High School. He attended Boston University but left the summer before his senior year, after getting work in the city of New York. At Boston University, Alexander wanted to pursue classical acting, but a professor redirected him toward comedy after noticing his physique, remarking, "I know your heart and soul are Hamlet, but you will never play Hamlet." He was awarded an honorary degree in 1995. He is a practicing magician, and switched to acting as a career only after deciding that he was unlikely to succeed professionally in a magic career.
Alexander began his acting career on the New York stage and is an accomplished singer and dancer. On Broadway he appeared in Stephen Sondheim's Merrily We Roll Along, Kander & Ebb's The Rink, Neil Simon's Broadway Bound, Accomplice, and Jerome Robbins' Broadway, for which he garnered the 1989 Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical. Returning to the stage in 2003, Alexander was cast in a successful run, opposite Martin Short, in the Los Angeles production of Mel Brooks' The Producers. Alexander also appeared with Kelsey Grammer in the 2004 musical adaptation of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, playing Jacob Marley to Grammer's Ebenezer Scrooge. He continues to appear in live stage shows, including Barbra Streisand's memorable birthday party for Stephen Sondheim at the Hollywood Bowl, in which he appeared with Angela Lansbury, performing selections from Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Alexander was recently named the Artistic Director of Reprise Theatre Company in Los Angeles, where he previously directed Sunday in the Park with George. He is scheduled to direct the upcoming revival of Damn Yankees at Reprise. In 2015, he replaced Larry David as the lead in David's Broadway play Fish in the Dark. Alexander co-starred opposite Sherie Rene Scott in the September 2017 world premiere of John Patrick Shanley's The Portuguese Kid at the Manhattan Theatre Club.
Alexander is best known as one of the key cast members of the award-winning television sitcom Seinfeld (1989-1998), in which he played the bumbling-but-lovable George Costanza (Seinfeld's character's best friend since childhood). Alexander was nominated for seven Primetime Emmy Awards and four Golden Globe Awards for his performance as Costanza, but did not win any, mainly due to his co-star Michael Richards being nominated and winning for his role as Cosmo Kramer. He did, however, win a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series for his work.
Before Seinfeld, he starred in a commercial for John Deere and in a short-lived CBS sitcom called Everything's Relative in 1987 that lasted ten episodes. Concurrently with his Seinfeld role, Alexander provided the voice of the lead character in the cult animated series Duckman (1994-1997). Alexander voiced Catbert, the evil director of human resources, in the short-lived Dilbert animated series based on the popular comic strip.
Alexander made cameo appearances in the second season of Curb Your Enthusiasm, playing himself, and appeared in the seventh season of Curb Your Enthusiasm along with the other three principal Seinfeld cast members. He had a part in the ABC sitcom Dinosaurs, as Al "Sexual" Harris (who frequently engaged in sexual harassment) as well as other voices. Despite a successful career in film and stage, Alexander never managed to repeat his Seinfeld-level of success in television. 2001 marked his first post-Seinfeld return to prime-time television: the heavily promoted but short-lived ABC sitcom Bob Patterson (which was canceled after five episodes). Alexander partially blames the lack of success on the mood of the country after 9/11.
His second chance as a TV series lead, the CBS sitcom Listen Up! (September 20, 2004 to April 25, 2005), also fell short of a second season. Alexander was the principal executive producer of the series, based very loosely on the life of the popular sports-media personality Tony Kornheiser. Alexander appeared on the Family Guy: Live in Vegas CD and sang a verse in a song. He was featured in the Friends episode "The One Where Rosita Dies" as a suicidal supply manager named Earl. Phoebe calls him trying to sell him toner and she learns about his problem and tries to persuade him not to commit suicide. This is referred to in an episode of Malcolm in the Middle where Alexander appears as a neurotic and critical loner called Leonard. He describes himself as free and mentions that he makes money with a job "selling toner over the phone". Later in the episode, he is repeatedly harassed by a man named George - his character's name on Seinfeld. Alexander appeared in the 1995 TV version of the Broadway musical Bye Bye Birdie, as Conrad Birdie's agent, Albert Peterson. He guest-starred in episode 8 of the 1996 variety show Muppets Tonight.
Alexander appeared on Star Trek: Voyager on the episode "Think Tank" playing a genius alien named Kurros who was trying to get Seven of Nine to serve on his ship. He appeared in "One Night at Mercy", the first episode of the short-lived 2002 revival of The Twilight Zone, playing Death. He featured in the 2005 Monk episode "Mr. Monk and the Other Detective" as Monk's rival, Marty Eels. On the June 26, 2006 episode of the Jimmy Kimmel Live! talk show, Alexander demonstrated several self-defense techniques. He was the Host of the 230th July 4, 2006 of the PBS July 4 "A Capitol Fourth" Celebrations in Washington, D.C. in which he sang, danced, and played tuned drums. In 2006, Alexander signed on to feature as a regular cast member in the second season of Everybody Hates Chris. Alexander was the host of the Comedy Central Roast of actor William Shatner on August 13, 2006 (first airdate: August 20, 2006). In 2007, Alexander was a guest star in the third episode of the improv comedy series Thank God You're Here. He is a frequent guest and panelist on: Bill Maher's Politically Incorrect and Real Time shows; Hollywood Squares; the Late Late Show, with both Craig Kilborn and Craig Ferguson; and the Late Show with David Letterman.
In 2008, Alexander guest-starred on the CBS show Criminal Minds in the season four episode "Masterpiece" as Prof. Rothschild, a well-educated serial killer obsessed with the Fibonacci sequence who sends the team into a race against time to save his last victims. He returned in the same season to direct the episode "Conflicted", featuring the actor Jackson Rathbone. In 2011, Alexander was the guest star in an episode of Harry's Law, playing a high school teacher bringing a wrongful dismissal suit.
In addition to his roles as an insensitive, money-hungry lawyer in Pretty Woman, co-starring with Richard Gere, and as inept womanizer Mauricio in Shallow Hal, with Jack Black, Alexander has appeared in Love! Valour! Compassion!, Dunston Checks In, Love and Action in Chicago, The Last Supper and the psychological horror film Jacob's Ladder. He voiced the gargoyle Hugo in Disney's 1996 animated film The Hunchback of Notre Dame and its direct-to-video sequel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame II. His other Disney voice work includes House of Mouse and the video game Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance. He has dabbled in directing, starting with 1996's For Better or Worse and 1999's Just Looking. He also played the toymaker A.C. Gilbert in the 2002 movie The Man Who Saved Christmas. In 2009, Alexander had a small role in the movie Hachi: A Dog's Tale as a train station manager, alongside his Pretty Woman costar Richard Gere. Alexander starred in A Fairly Odd Movie: Grow Up, Timmy Turner! as Cosmo.
Alexander is featured in country music star Brad Paisley's music videos "Celebrity" and "Online", the latter of which he directed and won the 2007 Country Music Association's Video of the Year Award for. In August 2012, he co-starred in the music video "Trying Not to Love You" by Nickelback with former Baywatch star Brooke Burns. In January 1995, Alexander did a commercial for Rold Gold pretzels to be broadcast during the Super Bowl. The commercial depicts him with Frasier dog "Eddie" jumping out of an airplane with a parachute over the stadium. After the commercial, the audience is brought back to a supposedly "live feed" of the playing field hearing startled sports commentators as Alexander and the dog land in the field to wild applause. In the summer of 2005, he appeared with Lee Iacocca in ads for DaimlerChrysler. Iacocca did the ads as part of a way to raise money for Dr. Denise Faustman's research to cure autoimmunity. Both Lee Iacocca and Jason Alexander have had loved ones whose lives have been adversely affected by autoimmunity. One of Alexander's earliest television roles was in a McDonald's commercial advertising the McDLT, in which he sings. He has appeared in Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) commercials, including one with baseball superstar Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants and another one opposite Trista Rehn of The Bachelorette. It was rumored that he no longer appears in these commercials due to the alleged cruelty to animals by KFC suppliers and slaughterhouses, but he refuted that in the August 2, 2006 issue of Adweek. Alexander said, "That's PETA bullcrap. I loved working for KFC. I was targeted by PETA to broker something between them. I think KFC really stepped up to the plate; unfortunately PETA did not."
He performed a mentalism and magic act at The Magic Castle in Hollywood, California from April 24 to 30, 2006, and was later named The Academy of Magical Arts Parlor Magician of the Year for this act. Alexander had previously been given the Academy's Junior Achievement Award in 1989. Alexander was the national spokesman for the Scleroderma Foundation, a leading organization dedicated to raising awareness of the disease and assisting those who are afflicted. Alexander voiced the character Abis Mal in The Return of Jafar and the television series based on Disney's 1992 animated film, Aladdin. Jason Alexander guest starred in Malcolm in the Middle as an intelligent but unpleasant individual (Lenard) who Malcolm meets in the park. He makes money as a telephone salesman and spends his time playing chess in the park. Malcolm, afraid of ending up like Lenard, tries to get him to change his ways and get a full-time job. In 2007, Alexander appeared in a commercial for the ASPCA, which has aired on cable TV stations. In 1987, Alexander appeared in a commercial for Miller Lite, with Yogi Berra as the celebrity, speaking about Miller Lite using his unique malapropism eloquence, sitting at a bar with many others including a young Jason Alexander standing behind Berra's left shoulder.
In 2009, Alexander lent his voice talents in the Thomas Nelson audio Bible production known as The Word of Promise. In this dramatized audio, Alexander played the character of Joseph. The project featured a large ensemble of well known Hollywood actors including Jim Caviezel, Lou Gossett Jr., John Rhys-Davies, Jon Voight, Gary Sinise, Christopher McDonald, Marisa Tomei and John Schneider.
In later years, Alexander has also competed on televised poker shows and in various tournaments. He has appeared twice on Bravo's Celebrity Poker Showdown, winning the final table of the 8th season. Alexander won the $500,000 prize for the charity of his choice, The United Way of America, to help benefit the New Orleans Area. Alexander played in the 2007 World Series of Poker main event, but he was eliminated on the second day. He returned to play in 2009. He made it to Day 3 of the event, finishing in the top 30% of the field. Alexander has appeared on NBC's Poker After Dark in the "Celebrities and Mentors" episode, finishing in 6th place after being eliminated by professional poker player Gavin Smith. Alexander signed with PokerStars where he plays under the screen name "J. Alexander".
Alexander was host of the LOL Sudbury opening night gala in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada on May 29, 2008, which was simulcast throughout Canada at 60 Cineplex theaters, a first for any comedy festival. He has loaned his voice to several episodes of the Twilight Zone Radio Dramas.
In 2008 and again in 2009, Alexander fronted Jason Alexander's Comedy Spectacular, a routine exclusive to Australia. The show consists of stand-up and improvisation and incorporates Alexander's musical talent. He is backed up by a number of well-known Australian comedians. His first time performing a similar show of this nature was in 2006 for Jason Alexander's Comedy Christmas. In February/March 2010, Alexander starred in his own show, The Donny Clay Experience, at the Planet Hollywood Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Donny Clay character, which he has performed in a tour of the United States, is a self-help guru in a similar mold to his Bob Patterson character.
It was announced in July 2010 that Alexander would be joining the cast of the Nickelodeon films based on their series The Fairly OddParents, A Fairly Odd Movie: Grow Up, Timmy Turner! and A Fairly Odd Christmas. He played Cosmo, one of Timmy Turner's fairies.
In August 2018, Alexander became one of several celebrities to play Colonel Sanders in commercials for the famed chicken restaurant chain KFC, reprising his role from a 2002 ad campaign for the chain.
Alexander has been a prominent public supporter of the OneVoice initiative, which seeks out opinions from moderate Israelis and Palestinians who want to achieve a mutual peace agreement between their societies. He explained on Real Time with Bill Maher (July 17, 2009) that he has visited Israel many times. On his appearance, he spoke about progress toward peace that he had observed. In 2012, Alexander announced his support for the re-election of President Barack Obama.
|1986||The Mosquito Coast||Clerk|
|1986||Brighton Beach Memoirs||Pool Player|
|1990||Pretty Woman||Philip Stuckey|
|1990||Jacob's Ladder||Mr. Geary, the lawyer|
|1992||I Don't Buy Kisses Anymore||Bernie Fishbine|
|1993||Coneheads||Neighbor Larry Farber|
|1993||For Goodness Sake||VCR Customer||Short film|
|1994||The Paper||Marion Sandusky|
|1994||The Return of Jafar||Abis Mal (voice)||Direct-to-video|
|1995||For Better or Worse||Michael Makeshift||Also director|
|1995||The Last Supper||The Anti-Environmentalist|
|1996||Dunston Checks In||Robert Grant|
|1996||The Hunchback of Notre Dame||Hugo (voice)|
|1997||Love! Valour! Compassion!||Buzz Hauser|
|1999||Madeline: Lost in Paris||Henri / Uncle Horst (voices)||Direct-to-video|
|1999||Love and Action in Chicago||Frank Bonner|
|1999||Just Looking||Radio Announcer (voice, uncredited)||Director|
|2000||The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle||Boris Badenov||Nominated--Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor|
|2000||Let's Rap Fire Safety||Smoke Detector (voice)||Short film|
|2001||The Trumpet of the Swan||Father (voice)|
|2001||On Edge||Zamboni Phil|
|2001||Shallow Hal||Mauricio Wilson|
|2002||The Hunchback of Notre Dame II||Hugo (voice)||Direct-to-video|
|2003||101 Dalmatians II: Patch's London Adventure||Lil' Lightning (voice)||Direct-to-DVD|
|2006||Ira and Abby||Dr. Morris Saperstein|
|2006||Hood of Horror||British Record Mogul|
|2006||How to Go Out on a Date in Queens||Johnny|
|2006||Farce of the Penguins||Penguin on Belly (voice)||Direct-to-DVD|
|2007||The Grand||Dr. Yakov Achmed|
|2009||Rock Slyde||Mailman Stan|
|2009||Hachi: A Dog's Tale||Carl|
|2010||Quantum Quest: A Cassini Space Odyssey||Moronic (voice)|
|2011||The Voyages of Young Doctor Dolittle||Eugene (voice)||Direct-to-DVD|
|2012||Stars in Shorts||Sid Rosenthal|
|2015||Larry Gaye: Renegade Male Flight Attendant||Larry's Dad|
|2016||Tom and Jerry: Back to Oz||Mr. Bibb / The Nome King (voice)||Direct-to-DVD|
|TBA||The Gettysburg Address||Noah Brooks (voice)||Documentary|
|1981||Senior Trip||Pete||Television film|
|1984-1985||E/R||Harold Stickley||15 episodes|
|1986||Rockabye||Lt. Ernest Foy||Television film|
|1987||Everything's Relative||Julian Beeby||Main role|
|1988||Newhart||Ramming||Episode: "Courtin' Disaster"|
|1989-1998||Seinfeld||George Costanza||Main role|
American Comedy Award for Funniest Supporting Male Performer in a TV Series (1992-93)
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (1995, 1997-98)
Nominated--American Comedy Award for Funniest Supporting Male Performer in a TV Series (1996, 1999)
Nominated--Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor - Series, Miniseries or Television Film (1993-95, 1998)
Nominated--Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (1992-98)
Nominated--Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series (1989-98)
Nominated--Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
Nominated--Viewers for Quality Television Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Quality Comedy Series (1993-95)
|1992-1993||Dinosaurs||Additional voices||Recurring role|
|1993||Dream On||Randall Townsend||Episode: "Oral Sex, Lies and Videotape"|
Nominated--Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series
|1994-1997||Duckman||Eric Duckman (voice)||Main role|
|1994, 1998||The Larry Sanders Show||Himself||2 episodes|
|1994||Aladdin||Abis Mal (voice)||Recurring role|
|1995||Bye Bye Birdie||Albert Peterson||Television film|
|1996||Muppets Tonight||Himself||Episode: "Jason Alexander"|
|1996||The Nanny||Jack||Episode: "The Tart with Heart"|
|1997||Remember WENN||Alan Ballinger||Episode: "Nothing Up My Sleeve"|
Nominated--Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor - Series, Miniseries or Television Film
|1998||Hercules||Poseidon (voice)||4 episodes|
|1999||Jingle Bells||Elf (voice)||Television film|
|1999||Star Trek: Voyager||Kurros||Episode: "Think Tank"|
|1999-2000||Dilbert||Catbert (voice)||Main role|
|2001, 2009||Curb Your Enthusiasm||Himself||5 episodes|
|2001||Friends||Earl||Episode: "The One Where Rosita Dies"|
|2001||Bob Patterson||Bob Patterson||Main role; also executive producer|
|2001||The Legend of Tarzan||Zutho (voice)||Episode: "Tarzan and the Face from the Past"|
|2002||Son of the Beach||Tex Finklestein||Episode: "Penetration Island"|
|2002||House of Mouse||Hugo (voice)||Episode: "Donald Wants to Fly"|
|2002||The Twilight Zone||Death||Episode: "One Night at Mercy"|
|2002||The Man Who Saved Christmas||A.C. Gilbert||Television film|
|2003||Malcolm in the Middle||Leonard||Episode: "Future Malcolm"|
|2004-2005||Listen Up!||Tony Kleinman||Main role; also producer|
|2004||A Christmas Carol||Jacob Marley||Television film|
|2005||Monk||Marty Eels||Episode: "Mr. Monk and the Other Detective"|
|2006||Odd Job Jack||Don (voice)||Episode: "Twenty-One You're Dead"|
|2006-2007||Everybody Hates Chris||Principal Edwards||2 episodes|
|2006||Campus Ladies||Professor||Episode: "A Very Special Episode"|
|2008||The New Adventures of Old Christine||Dr. Palmer||Episode: "One and a Half Men"|
|2008||Criminal Minds||Prof. Rothchild||Episode: "Masterpiece"|
|2009||Meteor||Dr. Chetwyn||2 episodes|
|2010-2013||Fish Hooks||Mr. Nibbles (voice)||3 episodes|
|2010||The Cleveland Show||Saul Friedman (voice)||3 episodes|
|2010||American Dad!||Sal (voice)||Episode: "White Rice"|
|2011||Glenn Martin DDS||Brandon (voice)||Episode: "GlenHog Day"|
|2011||Franklin & Bash||Carter Lang||Episode: "Big Fish"|
|2011||Harry's Law||Richard Cross||Episode: "Bad to Worse"|
|2011||China, IL||Harold (voice)||2 episodes|
|2011||A Fairly Odd Movie: Grow Up, Timmy Turner!||Human Cosmo||Television film|
|2011||Dora the Explorer||Owl (voice)||3 episodes|
|2012||Two and a Half Men||Dr. Goodman||Episode: "The Straw in My Donut Hole"|
|2012||Clipaholics||Narrator (voice)||8 episodes|
|2013||Community||Mountain Man||Episode: "Intro to Felt Surrogacy"|
|2014||Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee||George Costanza||Episode: "George Costanza: The Over-Cheer"|
|2014||Kirstie||Stanford Temple||Episode: "Maddie's Agent"|
|2014||The Tom and Jerry Show||Rick (voice)||Main role (season 1)|
|2014||How Murray Saved Christmas||Doc Holiday (voice)||Television film|
|2015||Big Time in Hollywood, FL||Himself||Episode: "The Hand That Feeds"|
|2015||Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero||Coach Wallace (voice)||Episode: "Ultrahyperball"|
|2015||Drunk History||William "Boss" Tweed||Episode: "Journalism"|
|2015-2016||The Grinder||Cliff Bemis||4 episodes|
|2016||The Mark Lembeck Technique||Mark Lembeck||Pilot|
|2017||Animals.||Algae (voice)||Episode: "Rats"|
|2017||The Simpsons||Bourbon Verlander (voice)||Episode: "The Caper Chase"|
|2017||Hit the Road||Ken Swallow||Main role; also co-creator, writer and executive producer|
|2017-present||Kody Kapow||Goji (voice)|
|2017||Robot Chicken||Krampus (voice)||Episode: "Freshly Baked: The Robot Chicken Santa Claus Pot Cookie Freakout Special: Special Edition"|
|2018||Young Sheldon||Gene Lundy||2 episodes|
|2018-2019||The Orville||Olix||2 episodes|
|2019||The Bug Diaries||Cicada (voice)||Episode: "Worm's New Digs"|
|2019||Richard Lovely||Mr. Mouse (voice)||Pilot|
|2019||Harley Quinn||Syd Borgman (voice)|
|1992||Seinfeld||Episode: "The Good Samaritan"|
Nominated--Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing - Comedy Series
|2006||Campus Ladies||Episode: "A Very Special Episode"|
|2007-2008||Everybody Hates Chris||2 episodes|
|2009||Criminal Minds||Episode: "Conflicted"|
|2010||'Til Death||Episode: "Snore Loser"|
|2012||Franklin & Bash||Episode: "Last Dance"|
|2012||Mike & Molly||Episode: "Vince Takes a Bath"|
|1996||Disney's Animated Storybook: The Hunchback of Notre Dame||Hugo|
|1996||The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Topsy Turvy Games||Hugo|
|2012||Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance||Hugo|
|1981||Merrily We Roll Along||Joe||Neil Simon Theatre|
|1982||Forbidden Broadway||Stage 72|
|1984||The Rink||Lino/Lenny/Punk/Uncle Fausto||Al Hirschfeld Theatre|
|1985-1986||Personals||Minetta Lane Theatre|
Nominated--Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical
|1986-1988||Broadway Bound||Stanley||Broadhurst Theatre|
|1989-1990||Jerome Robbins' Broadway||Narrator||Imperial Theatre|
Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical
Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Musical
|1990||Accomplice||Performer||Richard Rodgers Theater|
|2003-2004||The Producers||Max Bialystock||National Tour|
Odyssey Theatre Ensemble
|2015||Fish in the Dark||Norman Drexel||Cort Theatre|
|2017||The Portuguese Kid||Barry Dragonetti||Manhattan Theatre Club|
|2019||The Last Five Years||Director|