Rick Moranis

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Rick Moranis

Moranis in March 1990 at the 62nd Academy Awards
BornFrederick Allan Moranis
(1953-04-18) April 18, 1953 (age 59)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
OccupationActor, comedian, musician
Years active1976–2006,2008
Spouse(s)Anne Belsky (deceased, 1991)
Website
rickmoranis.com
 
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Rick Moranis

Moranis in March 1990 at the 62nd Academy Awards
BornFrederick Allan Moranis
(1953-04-18) April 18, 1953 (age 59)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
OccupationActor, comedian, musician
Years active1976–2006,2008
Spouse(s)Anne Belsky (deceased, 1991)
Website
rickmoranis.com

Frederick Allan "Rick" Moranis (born April 18, 1953) is a retired Canadian actor. Moranis came to prominence around 1980 in the sketch comedy show Second City Television, and later appeared in several Hollywood films including Strange Brew, Ghostbusters, Spaceballs, Little Shop of Horrors, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Little Giants, Parenthood, The Flintstones, and My Blue Heaven. He is the widower of his only wife, Anne Moranis.

Contents

Early life and SCTV

Moranis was born in Toronto, Ontario, to Jewish parents and went to high school at the Sir Sandford Fleming Secondary School. He went to elementary school with Geddy Lee, frontman of the rock band Rush.[1] His career as an entertainer began as a radio disc jockey in the mid-1970s, using the on-air name of "Rick Allan" at three Toronto radio stations.[1]

In 1980, Moranis was persuaded to join the third-season cast of Second City Television (SCTV) by friend and SCTV writer/performer Dave Thomas.[2] At the time, Moranis was the only cast member who had not come from a Second City stage troupe. He became famous for his impressions of Woody Allen, George Carlin and David Brinkley, among many others.

With SCTV moving to CBC in 1980 (and syndicated to the United States), Moranis and Thomas were challenged to fill two additional minutes with "identifiable Canadian content", and created a sketch called The Great White North featuring the characters Bob and Doug McKenzie. By the time NBC ordered 90-minute programs for the U.S. in 1981 (the fourth season of SCTV overall), there had been such positive feedback from affiliates on the McKenzies that the network requested that the duo have a sketch in every show.[3]

Bob and Doug became a pop culture phenomenon, which led to a top-selling Great White North album[4] and the 1983 movie Strange Brew, Moranis's first major film role.

Feature films

After his SCTV work and the Strange Brew movie, Moranis had a busy career in feature films that lasted over a decade, most notably Ghostbusters, Spaceballs, and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and its sequels. He also did the voice-over for a short lived cartoon series on NBC called Gravedale High (1990).

In a 2004 interview, Moranis talked about the kinds of films he enjoyed the most:

On the last couple of movies I made — big-budget Hollywood movies — I really missed being able to create my own material. In the early movies I did, I was brought in to basically rewrite my stuff, whether it was Ghostbusters or Spaceballs. By the time I got to the point where I was "starring" in movies, and I had executives telling me what lines to say, that wasn't for me. I’m really not an actor. I'm a guy who comes out of comedy, and my impetus was always to rewrite the line to make it funnier, not to try to make somebody’s precious words work.[5]

Rick's last big-screen film roles were The Flintstones (1994) and the box-office flop Big Bully (1996). In the former, as Barney Rubble, Rick was barely visually recognizable because he had a blonde wig and never wore his trademark glasses. Although a successful comedy, the Flintstones film was a far departure from the sci-fi comic fare he was best known for. Other than the Honey... sequels, by the mid-90's his only appearance in that genre was a 1993 music video, Tomorrow's Girls by Donald Fagen, in which he played a man married to an extraterrestrial woman. Disney ended their Shrunk franchise in 1997 with the direct-to-video film Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves, in which Rick was the last remaining original cast member. He worked for Disney twice more (with his fellow SCTV alumnus Dave Thomas), voicing a moose in the 2002 animated film Brother Bear and its direct-to-video sequel.

Retirement

The handprints of Rick Moranis in front of The Great Movie Ride at Walt Disney World's Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park.

Rick officially left the film industry in 1997, six years after the 1991 loss of his wife, Anne, to liver cancer. He later explained that he began to "pull out" of making movies in about '96 or '97. "I'm a single parent and I just found that it was too difficult to manage raising my kids and doing the travelling involved in making movies. So I took a little bit of a break. And the little bit of a break turned into a longer break, and then I found that I really didn't miss it."[6]

As of 2004, Moranis was on the Advisory Committee for the comedy program at Humber College.[citation needed]

In 2005, Moranis released an album titled The Agoraphobic Cowboy, featuring country songs with lyrics which Moranis says follow in the comic tradition of songwriters/singers such as Roger Miller, Kinky Friedman, and Jim Stafford. The album was produced by Tony Scherr, and is distributed through ArtistShare, as well as Moranis's official web site. Commenting on the origins of the songs, he said that in 2003, "Out of the blue, I just wrote a bunch of songs. For lack of a better explanation, they’re more country than anything. And I actually demoed four or five of them, and I'm not sure at this point what I’m going to do with them—whether I’m going to fold them into a full-length video or a movie. But, boy, I had a good time doing that."[5]

On December 8, 2005, The Agoraphobic Cowboy was announced as a nominee for the 2006 Grammy for Best Comedy Album. (A 1989 album by Moranis was entitled You, Me, The Music, and Me). On February 3, 2006, Moranis performed "Press Pound" on Late Night with Conan O'Brien and discussed the development of his music career.

In November 2007, Moranis reunited with Dave Thomas for a 24th anniversary special of Bob and Doug McKenzie, titled Bob and Doug McKenzie's 2-4 Anniversary. The duo shot new footage for this special. Thomas subsequently created a new animated Bob and Doug McKenzie series, Bob & Doug, for his company Animax Entertainment. Moranis declined to voice the role of Bob, which was taken over by Dave Coulier, but remained involved in the series as an executive producer.[7]

On June 24, 2008, Moranis declined to come out of retirement to join the other cast members of Ghostbusters in the production of a new video game based on the films.[8] The following year, Ghostbusters' Harold Ramis told Entertainment Weekly of a proposed Ghostbusters 3 that, "Everybody said they'd do it".[9] But Ramis later stated to Student Life, "Rick won’t do it. Rick has retired from show business. But everyone else says they’ll do it."[10] In January 2010, a Moviefone columnist suggested, without attribution, that Moranis may come out of retirement to reprise his role as Louis Tully.[11]

Discography

Albums

Filmography

Film

YearTitleRoleNotes
1983Strange BrewBob McKenziealso writer and director
1984Wild Life, TheThe Wild LifeHarry
GhostbustersLouis Tully
Streets of FireBilly Fish
1985Brewster's MillionsMorty King
Head OfficeHoward Gross
1986Little Shop of HorrorsSeymour Krelborn
Club ParadiseBarry Nye
1987SpaceballsLord Dark Helmet
1989Rocket Boy, TheThe Rocket BoyAutomatic Safety System
Ghostbusters IILouis Tully
ParenthoodNathan HuffnerAmerican Comedy Award for Funniest Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture
Honey, I Shrunk the KidsWayne Szalinski
1990My Blue HeavenBarney Coopersmith
1991L.A. StoryGravediggeruncredited
1992Honey, I Blew Up the KidWayne Szalinski
1993Splitting HeirsHenry Bullock
1994Little GiantsDanny O'Shea
Flintstones, TheThe FlintstonesBarney Rubble
Honey, I Shrunk the AudienceWayne Szalinski
1996Big BullyDavid Leary
1997Honey, We Shrunk OurselvesWayne Szalinski
Muppets TonightHimselfGuest star
2001Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit ToysThe Toy Taker
Mr. Cuddles the Teddy Bear
Voice only
2003Brother BearRuttVoice only
2006Brother Bear 2Ruttvoice only

Television

YearTitleRoleNotes
1980-1981Second City TVBob MacKenzie
Rabbi Karlov
Various
Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program
Nominated - Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program (3)
1981-1982SCTV Network 90Bob McKenzie
Various
1983Saturday Night LiveBob McKenzieEpisode: "Lily Tomlin"
1984Hockey NightCoachEpisode: "Crackers"
1990Gravedale HighMax Schneider
2003Bob & DougBob McKenzie (voice)

Awards and Nominations

YearAwardCategoryResult
1981Primetime Emmy AwardOutstanding Writing in a Variety or Music ProgramWon
1982Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program (3)Nominated
1990American Comedy AwardFunniest Supporting Actor in a Motion PictureWon
1995Earle Grey AwardBest CastWon
2006Grammy AwardBest Comedy Album[12]Nominated

Audio/Video

References

External links