Philadelphia, PA, USA
Claim to Fame
The nonspeaking half of Penn and Teller
Profile Bio Text
Teller is the silent half of Penn & Teller, and the most famous professional mute since Harpo Marx. He began performing illusions of magic when he was five, after sending for a magic kit he had seen advertised on Howdy Doody. Magic was his hobby all through high school and college, but then he settled down with what seemed to be a responsible career as a high school teacher.
At the age of 27 Teller taught his last class, quitting to perform illusions on street corners, at renaissance fairs, and anywhere else there was a little money to be made. He gradually stopped speaking on stage when he noticed that the less he spoke, the more the audience seemed to pay attention.
Early in his career, Teller teamed with a musician, Wier Chrisemer, billing themselves as The Ottmar Scheckt Society for the Preservation of Weird and Disgusting Music. Teller and Penn met in 1975, and the act became a trio renamed the Asparagus Valley Cultural Society. Chrisemer played the synthesizer, Teller performed illusions, and Penn juggled, but their schtick had no outrageous edge because Chrisemer was devoutly Christian, the son of a Lutheran minister, and vetoed anything too risqué. Not surprisingly, Penn & Teller eventually became a duo, the better to shock, offend, and entertain.
Penn & Teller first caught national attention in 1985, with a special on PBS. They appeared on Saturday Night Live in 1986, and debuted on Broadway in 1987. When they first appeared on Late Night with David Letterman, the host told them during a commercial break to surprise him with something, anything, on their next appearance -- the wilder the better. It was Teller`s idea to bring hundreds of cockroaches and release them on Letterman`s desk.
In their act, Teller usually has the more difficult assignment. He wears a straightjacket, hangs upside-down over a bed of nails, is run over by an 18-wheel truck, has knives driven through his hands, is immersed in an enormous water tank, and swings over bear-traps on a trapeze. On their series Bullshit!, they have debunked psychics, paranormal frauds, cults, mainstream religion, and the war on drugs. Penn, of course, does virtually all the talking.
When working as an actor, Teller sometimes speaks. He spoke on an episode of Dharma & Greg, and shouted "Yes!" when a competitor fell while filming an episode of Fear Factor. Teller also spoke but did not sing in the movie musical The Fantasticks, and he had several lines of dialogue in their 1989 movie, Penn & Teller Get Killed.
Teller has written book reviews, theater reviews, and the humorous biography of his father When I`m Dead All This Will Be Yours. He has also written magazine essays on topics ranging from Jeffrey Dahmer to the latest biography of Harry Houdini.
He was born Raymond Joseph Teller, but even when he was teaching high school, he asked students to call him Teller, never Mr Teller. He has legally changed his name to just plain Teller, and holds a US passport issued without listing a first name. He is not currently married, and admires the films of Alfred Hitchcock. Beyond that, Teller says next to nothing about anything, and certainly does not discuss his personal life.
At last report, Chrisemer, Penn & Teller`s former partner, was working for the phone company in New Jersey.
Couple Profile Source
Central High School in Philadelphia, PA.
Amherst College in Amherst, MA.
Full Name at Birth
Raymond Joseph Teller
Producer, Writer, Actor/Actress
Has Detailed Data (New)
Teller (born Raymond Joseph Teller; February 14, 1948) is an American magician, illusionist, actor, comedian, writer, director and half of the comedy magic duo Penn & Teller, along with Penn Jillette. Teller usually does not speak during performances. He is an atheist, debunker, skeptic, and a fellow of the Cato Institute (a free market libertarian think tank which also lists Jillette as a fellow), an organization which featured prominently in the duo's Showtime television series Bullshit!. Teller legally changed his name from "Raymond Joseph Teller" to the mononym "Teller", and possesses a United States passport issued in that name.
Magician, Actor, Producer
Talent Agency (e.g. Modelling)
Celebrity Talent International
(1999) TV commercial: Powerstreet online trading, (2001) TV commercial: Pizza Hut, (2002) TV commercial: HP Media Center personal computer, (2013) TV commercial with Penn Jillette for the LasVegas.com tourism website., (2015) TV commercial: Mazda CX-5
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