David Alan Grier
Actor David Alan Grier turned from early dramatic roles to carve out a decades-long career in comedy. A Detroit native, he found acclaim early on the New York stage, earning a Tony nomination for playing baseball legend Jackie Robinson in the musical "The First." He moved onto film acting with a role in Robert Altman's Vietnam drama "Streamers" (1983). He later joined the cast of Norman Jewison's critically acclaimed "A Soldier's Story" (1984), playing a role that he had done on stage in Charles Fuller's Pulitzer Prize winning play. He began moving towards comedy with his next role opposite Rip Torn and Loretta Swit in "Beer" (1985). After appearing in the short-lived sitcom "All Is Forgiven" (NBC, 1986), Grier began a run of supporting roles in films like "From the Hip" (1987) and "Amazon Women on the Moon" (1987), and television shows such as "A Different World" (NBC, 1987-93), "ALF" (NBC,1986-90), and "Tour of Duty" (CBS, 1987-90). A small role in the action-spoof comedy "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka" (1988) brought him into the circle of actor/director/producer Keenan Ivory Wayans. Grier's relationship with Wayans and his siblings would prove to be extremely fruitful. He joined the cast of Wayans' influential sketch comedy show "In Living Color" (Fox, 1990-94) at the show's inception, and was one of the few performers to stay for the show's entire run. With his profile raised, he filmed a cameo for Altman's black comedy "The Player" (1992) before embarking on a successful run of supporting parts in films like "Boomerang" (1992), alongside Eddie Murphy, "Blankman" (1994), with Damon Wayans, and "In the Army Now" (1994), opposite Pauly Shore. He also played a recurring character on Martin Lawrence's hit sitcom, "Martin" (Fox, 1992-97). After "In Living Color" ended, he appeared on film in the Robin Williams' blockbuster "Jumanji" (1995), as well as the film adaption of the 1960s sitcom "McHale's Navy" (1997). On TV, he starred in the short-lived sitcoms "The Preston Episodes" (Fox, 1995) and "Damon" (Fox, 1998), again with Damon Wayans. He found more sustained success with "Life With Bonnie" (ABC, 2002-04) and a recurring role on "My Wife and Kids" (ABC, 2001-05). He enjoyed something of a resurgence in the 2010s, starting with a starring role opposite Kerry Washington and Craig Robinson in "Peeples" (2013). He landed the role of the Cowardly Lion in the television musical "The Wiz Live!" (NBC, 2015), and joined the cast of Jerrod Carmichael's edgy sitcom "The Carmichael Show" (NBC, 2015-17), playing the main character's opinionated father. Similar to "The Wiz," Grier played Santa Claus in the TV musical "A Christmas Story Live!" (Fox, 2017). He subsequently joined the cast of "The Cool Kids" (Fox, 2018-) playing a retiree opposite fellow veteran performers Vicki Lawrence and Martin Mull.