Shelley Berman started as a straight actor, receiving his training at the Goodman Theater in Chicago, honing his acting skills in stock companies in and around Chicago and New York. In the mid-1950s, he became a member of Chicago's Compass Players, which later evolved into Second City. While performing improvised sketches with Compass, Shelley began developing solo pieces, often employing an imaginary telephone to take the place of an onstage partner.
In 1957, Shelley landed his first job as a comedian at Mister Kelly's in Chicago, which led to other successful nightclub bookings, and a recording contract with Verve Records. His comedy albums would earn him three gold records and he'd win the first Grammy Award for a non-musical recording. He was the first standup comedian to play Carnegie Hall. Shelley would go on to appear on numerous TV specials, and all of the major variety shows of the day.
Shelley's success as a comedian enabled him to continue with his first love - acting. He starred on Broadway in A FAMILY AFFAIR and continued to do stage work in productions of THE ODD COUPLE; DAMN YANKEES; FIDDLER ON THE ROOF; I'M NOT RAPPAPORT; LA CAGE AUX FOLLES and GUYS AND DOLLS, among many others. Comedic and dramatic acting roles on television began to come his way, including appearances on episodes of THE TWILIGHT ZONE; BEWITCHED; THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW; ADAM-12; NIGHT COURT; MacGYVER and L.A. LAW. In recent years, Shelley has graced the small screen on FRIENDS; WALKER, TEXAS RANGER; THE KING OF QUEENS; GREY'S ANATOMY; HANNAH MONTANA; CSI: NY and BOSTON LEGAL. Since 2002, Shelley has appeared as Larry David's father on CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM, a role for which he received a 2008 Emmy Award nomination.
Among Shelley's film credits: THE BEST MAN (with Henry Fonda); DIVORCE, AMERICAN STYLE (with Dick Van Dyke and Debbie Reynolds); EVERY HOME SHOULD HAVE ONE (with Marty Feldman); THE LAST PRODUCER (with Burt Reynolds); MEET THE FOCKERS (with Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller); THE HOLIDAY (with Cameron Diaz) and YOU DON'T MESS WITH THE ZOHAN (with Adam Sandler).
Shelley continues to do film and television work, and make personal appearances across the country year-round. He has authored three books, two plays, several TV pilot scripts, and numerous poems. For over twenty years, Shelley taught humor writing in the Master of Professional Writing program at USC, where he is now a Lecturer Emeritus. Shelley spends his (precious little) free time volunteering for various charitable organizations, and indulging in his favorite hobby, knife collecting.
For more information on Shelley’s life and career, please visit his official web site at: