Brad Garrett (born Brad H. Gerstenfeld on April 14, 1960 in Woodland Hills, CA) is an American Comedian and Actor in film, television, and animation. He is best known to TV audiences as Robert Barone on the CBS sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond (from 1996-2005) and as Eddie Stark on the Fox sitcom Til' Death (from 2006-2010). He also appeared as a semi-regular panelist on the early 1990s revival of Match Game among other game shows.
Born in Woodland Hills, California, the son of parents Barbara, a homemaker and Albert "Al" Gerstenfeld, a hearing aid salesman. Even though he is Jewish, Brad celebrates Christmas and Hanukkah. He has two older brothers, Jeff and Paul. He attended George Ellery Hale Middle School and graduated from El Camino Real High School in Woodland Hills. He then went on to attend UCLA but less than two months later, he dropped out to pursue his passion, stand-up comedy.
In one of his earliest public appearances, Garrett can be seen as the menacing palace guard on the back cover of the Electric Light Orchestra album Discovery released in 1979. In this, Garrett is seen dressed in middle-eastern traditional clothing, akin to that of the fictional character Aladdin, drawing his scimitar.
Brad started out performing at various improv clubs in Los Angeles, including The Improv in Hollywood and The Ice House in Pasadena. His very first television appearance came in 1984, where he became the first $100,000 grand champion winner in the comedy category of the TV show Star Search. This led to his first appearance, at age 23, on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, making him one of the youngest comedians ever to perform on the show. His appearance with Carson brought Garrett a lot of national attention, and soon he was appearing as an opening act for such headliners as Diana Ross and Liza Minnelli as well as opening acts in Las Vegas for Frank Sinatra, David Copperfield, Smokey Robinson, Sammy Davis, Jr., the Beach Boys, the Righteous Brothers and Julio Iglesias.
After achieving a strong measure of success with stand-up comedy, Garrett decided to change gears and try his luck with performing on TV. From 1985-1986, he was the voice of Hulk Hogan (in a voice similar to Rodney Dangerfield) for the cartoon series Hulk Hogan's Rock 'n Wrestling. He was featured on Family Feud during Ray Combs' tenure during a special week of shows titled "Funny Men vs. Funny Women Week". Brad also appeared as a celebrity panelist on the NBC game show Super Password in 1987 and also appearing as a panelist on Hollywood Squares (hosted by John Davidson) which included a memorable moment when he impersonated fellow (now disgraced) comedian Bill Cosby during a question about Jell-o. He then appeared in the short-lived summer comedy First Impressions (CBS, 1988), in which he portrayed a divorced father who makes a living doing impressions, in a one-time spot as a bank loan officer on Roseanne (ABC), and The Pursuit of Happiness (NBC, 1995–96), in which he was the hero's gay best friend. Though prior to these roles, Garrett had also had a minor part on Transformers, voicing the Decepticon base Trypticon in season three and as an ill-fated thug in Suicide Kings.
Garrett's distinctive deep voice has landed him prolific work as a voice actor, such as on Mighty Ducks: The Animated Series, 2 Stupid Dogs, Jetsons: The Movie,The Spooktacular New Adventures of Casper, Steven Spielberg Presents: Toonsylvania, A Bug's Life, Finding Nemo, Asterix and the Vikings, Superman: The Animated Series, and Justice League Unlimited.
It wasn't until 1996 when Garrett landed his perhaps more known notable role to TV audiences today: Robert Barone on the family-oriented sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond (debuting on September 13, 1996 on CBS) co-starring alongside Ray Romano, Patricia Heaton, Doris Roberts, and Peter Boyle. The show ran for nine seasons, ending it's run on May 16, 2005 and playing the role of Robert Barone, has won Garrett five Emmy Award nominations (in 2002, 2003 and 2005) for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.
In 2003, he was also nominated for the Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie for Gleason where he portrayed legendary funnyman Jackie Gleason. Alongside his Raymond cast members, he won the 2003 Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series. Brad had previously hoped to do a spin-off with his Raymond character Robert Barone after the show ended in May 2005 but he withdrew in October 2005 due to inaction from CBS that led to a number of the writers from Raymond leaving and taking other jobs.
Also in 2005, Garrett appeared on Broadway playing Murray the Cop in the revival of Neil Simon's The Odd Couple with Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick. He understudied Lane in the role of Oscar Madison, and substituted for him in January 2006 after Lane fell ill and was unable to continue. Shortly afterwards, the Fox network announced they would pick up a new sitcom called 'Til Death with Garrett in the lead role. The plot revolves around a long married couple whose new next door neighbors are a pair of feisty newlyweds. Joely Fisher co-starred alongside Garrett playing his wife in the series. The show ran from September 7, 2006, to June 20, 2010.
Brad appeared in the 2007 film Music and Lyrics alongside Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore.
Some of his other movie credits include Casper, Stuart Little 2, The Aviators, and Night of the Museum and it's sequels Night of the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (2009) & Night of the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (2014).
In 2009, Garrett entered the main event at the World Series of Poker but lost on the second day of the event. He has also starred in commercials for 7-Up, where he portrays a more happy, cheerful version of himself because of the soda.
In June 2010, he opened Brad Garrett's Comedy Club in the Tropicana Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. Later that December, he was one of the narrators during performances of the Candlelight Processional at Epcot.
In June 2011, he starred on a short-lived candid kids show titled I Kid with Brad Garrett, premiering on the TLC network and ended after 12 episodes. In December of that year, Garrett closed his club at the Tropicana as he is starting a new club with the same name across the street at MGM.
Garrett was previously married to Jill Diven. He had proposed to her on the set of Everybody Loves Raymond and they later married on May 18, 1999. He is Jewish and Diven is Roman Catholic. Their first child, son Maxwell Bradley was born on in October 1998 and their second child, daughter Hope Violet, was born in January 2000. They separated in 2005 and July 2006, Diven filed for divorce.
In 2007, Garrett made headlines after he struck a TMZ photographer's camera, which the photographer claimed that Garrett had hit him in the face. The Los Angeles District Attorney declined to file assault charges against Garrett for the incident, because the DA felt Garrett was provoked in the incident.
In addition to his appearances on game shows, Garrett also appeared on a celebrity edition of Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? where he played for his charity, the Maximum Hope Foundation (named after his kids). He answered every single question correctly winning $25,000 and walked away with that after being asked to play for $250,000 with the bonus subject being U.S. History.
Garrett is noted for his very tall stature. He stands at 6 ft. 8 in. (2.04 m) tall.