Howie Mandel

Comedian Howie Mandel went from being known for his zany stand-up routines to becoming one of the most recognizable television personalities in North America. A native of Toronto, Ontario, he began performing comedy around the city in his early-20s. He journeyed to Los Angeles where he was soon a regular at The Comedy Store. His hyper routines, which included sticking a surgical glove on his head and blowing it up with his nose, quickly gained a following. He appeared regularly as one of the comedians trying to break up contestants on the syndicated game show "Make Me Laugh" (Syndicated, 1979-80). Along with future stars Jerry Seinfeld, Richard Lewis, and Harry Anderson, he was featured on HBO's "The 6th Annual Young Comedians" (HBO, 1981) special. He moved into acting with a role in the comedy "Gas" (1981), but his next role showed that Mandel wasn't afraid to step outside of his comfort zone. He joined the cast of the medical drama "St. Elsewhere" (NBC, 1982-88), playing Dr. Wayne Fiscus. The critically acclaimed show, which included Denzel Washington and Mark Harmon as fellow cast members, gave him the opportunity to show that he could do more than be goofy. While on the show, he started to become an in-demand voice artist, voicing multiple characters on "Muppet Babies" (CBS, 1984-91) and provided the voice for Gizmo in "Gremlins" (1984). That experience would eventually lead to the comedian creating an animated show around one of his stage characters, "Bobby's World" (Fox, 1990-98). He continued working periodically in films as well, starring in the comedies "A Fine Mess" (1986), "Walk Like a Man" (1987), and "Little Monsters" (1989). He returned to series television with "Good Grief" (Fox, 1990-91) but the show lasted only 13 episodes. While Mandel worked on a regular basis throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, hosting his own talk show for a brief time and perhaps most memorably doing hidden-camera gags on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" (NBC, 1992-2009), he became unhappy with the direction of his career. That changed when he agreed to host the U.S. version of the game show "Deal or No Deal" (NBC/Syndicated, 2005- ). The program, which featured Mandel negotiating with contestants as they picked briefcases featuring different dollar amounts, was an immediate hit. In 2010, he replaced David Hasselhoff as one of the judges on "America's Got Talent" (NBC, 2006- ). Partnering first with Howard Stern and later with Simon Cowell, he helped cement the show as a mainstay on the NBC primetime schedule. He became a television fixture, creating side projects like "Howie Do It" (NBC, 2009), "Mobbed" (Fox, 2011-13), "Deal With It" (TBS, 2013-14), and "Howie Mandel's Animals Doing Things" (Nat Geo, 2018- ). He was a favorite guest on daytime and late night talk shows, where he frequently spoke openly about his struggle with obsessive compulsive disorder and germophobia.