Edward James "Ed" Begley, Jr. (born September 16, 1949) is an American actor and environmentalist. Begley has appeared in hundreds of films, television shows, and stage performances. He is best known for his role as Dr. Victor Ehrlich, on the television series St. Elsewhere, for which he received six consecutive Emmy Award nominations, and his most recent reality show about green living called Living With Ed on Planet Green with his wife.
In 1996, Begley appeared in the TV movie “The Late Shift,” where he played real life CBS executive Rod Perth. Perth himself appears briefly in a cameo role (as a man Howard Stringer mistakes for Perth in the CAA lobby). Begley Jr. and Perth share an extraordinary physical resemblance, something the film makers milk for humor in the scene.
Since 2008 he has appeared in a series of DirecTV commercials as a "Cable Corp Inc." executive. In 2013 he appeared on the reality television show Beverly Hills Pawn.
According to a feature on the Bio Channel television program Celebrity Close Calls, Begley nearly died in 1972, after being stabbed multiple times while being mugged by a street gang. His attackers were teenagers, who were later apprehended by police.
Since 1970, he has been an environmentalist, beginning with his first electric vehicle (a Taylor-Dunn golf cart style vehicle), recycling, and becoming a vegan. He promotes eco-friendly products like the Toyota Prius, Envirolet composting toilets and Begley's Best Household Cleaner.
Begley's home is 1,585 square feet (147.3 m2) in size using solar power and also uses wind power via a PacWind vertical-axis wind turbine, an air conditioning unit made by Greenway Design Group, LLC., and an electricity-generating bicycle used to toast bread, and he pays around $300 a year in electric bills. Arguing that the suburban lawn is environmentally unsustainable, especially in Southern California owing to water shortage, he has converted his own to a drought-tolerant garden composed of native California plants. Though he is noted for riding bicycles and using public transportation, he owns a 2003 Toyota RAV4 EVelectric-powered vehicle.
His hybridelectric bicycle was often featured on his television show Living With Ed. Begley also spoofed his own environmentalist beliefs on "Homer to the Max", an episode of The Simpsons by showing himself using a nonpolluting go-cart that is powered by his "own sense of self-satisfaction" and on an episode of Dharma and Greg. Later, he appeared in "Gone Maggie Gone", another episode of The Simpsons, in Season 20. In the episode, during a solar eclipse, he drives a solar-powered car that stops running on train tracks as a train approaches, but the train also stops because it is an Ed Begley Jr. Solar Powered Train. While according to Groening's other comedy series Futurama "Ed Begley Jr's electric motor is the most evil propulsion system ever conceived" as stated in "The Honking" (19 minutes in).
Begley and friend Bill Nye are in a competition to see who can have the lowest carbon footprint.
Begley was featured during The Jay Leno Show's Green Car Challenge. Various celebrities drove an electric Ford Focus automobile and tried to set records on an outdoor track. During the second lap, cutouts of Begley and Al Gore would pop out, and if the celebrity had hit either of them, one second was added to his or her time.
Begley is the author of Living Like Ed: A Guide to the Eco-Friendly Life (2008) and Ed Begley, Jr.'s Guide to Sustainable Living: Learning to Conserve Resources and Manage an Eco-Conscious Life (2009) both published by Random House.
From 2007–2010, Begley and his wife Rachelle Carson starred in their own reality television series, Living With Ed on HGTV and Discovery's Planet Green channel. He, his wife and daughter Hayden are currently filming "On Begley Street," a Web series chronicling the deconstruction of his current home and the "building of North America’s greenest, most sustainable home."
He received the Thomas Alva Edison Award for Energy Independence from the American Jewish Congress, the first one to be presented. Begley has been a leader in this field and was recognized in November 2007 for his lifelong work in environmentalism.
Begley was also on the advisory committee for the group 2004 Racism Watch, founded by fellow actor Ed Asner. The group was formed to respond to the advertisement campaign of the George W. Bush/Dick Cheney presidential campaign that they claimed were encouraging racism. The advertisement in question, “100 Days,” made a reference to terrorism and terrorists while highlighting a photograph of an anonymous man of Middle-Eastern descent.
On April 19, 2013, two public service announcements about the hazards of water fluoridation were released featuring Begley made in conjunction with the Fluoride Action Network.