New York City, New York, USA
Actor, voice actor, playwright, essayist
Claim to Fame
Starting Over, Princess Bride
Full Name at Birth
Wallace Michael Shawn
Wallace Michael "Wally" Shawn (born November 12, 1943) is an American actor, voice actor, stand-up comedian, dancer, playwright, and essayist, best known for appearing in film roles, such as Wally Shawn in the Louis Malle-directed comedy-drama My Dinner with Andre (1981), Vizzini in The Princess Bride (1987), Ezra in The Haunted Mansion, providing the voice of Rex in the Toy Story franchise, providing the voice of Gilbert Huph in The Incredibles (2004), and providing the voice of Calico in Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore (2010). He also starred in a variety of television series, including Gossip Girl and recurring appearances as Grand Nagus Zek in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993–99).
Actor/Actress, Writer, Producer
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Profile Bio Text
Wallace Michael "Wally" Shawn (born November 12, 1943) is a U.S. actor, playwright, and essayist. His best-known film roles include Wally Shawn in My Dinner with Andre (1981), Vizzini in The Princess Bride (1987), and Rex the toy dinosaur in the Toy Story animated film series. He also starred in a variety of T.V. shows, including Gossip Girl.
His plays include The Designated Mourner, Aunt Dan and Lemon, and Grasses of a Thousand Colors; he also cowrote the screenplay for My Dinner with Andre with Andre Gregory, and scripted Vanya on 42nd Street, a film adaptation of Anton Chekov's play Uncle Vanya.
Shawn was born into a prominent Jewish family in New York City, where he continues to reside. He is the son of William Shawn, the long-time editor of The New Yorker, and journalist Cecille Shawn (née Lyon); his brother, Allen, is a composer. Shawn attended The Putney School, a private liberal arts high school in Putney, Vermont, and graduated with an A.B. in history from Harvard College. He studied economics and philosophy at Oxford, originally intending to become a diplomat; he also traveled to India as an English teacher, on a Fulbright program. Since 1979, Shawn has made a living primarily as an actor.
Shawn at the Miami Book Fair International in 1991
Shawn's early plays, such as Marie and Bruce (1978), portrayed emotional and sexual conflicts in an absurdist style, with language that was both lyrical and violent. In a conversation with Andre Gregory, parts of which were used to create My Dinner with Andre, Shawn referred to these plays as depicting "my interior life as a raging beast." Critical response was extremely polarized: some critics hailed Shawn as a major writer, while John Simon called Marie and Bruce "garbage" and described Shawn as "one of the unsightliest actors in this city". His play A Thought in Three Parts caused a minor uproar in London in 1977 when the production was investigated by a vice squad and attacked in Parliament due to allegedly pornographic content.
His later plays became more overtly political, drawing parallels between the psychology of his characters and the behavior of governments and social classes. Among the best-known of these are Aunt Dan and Lemon (1985) and The Designated Mourner (1997). Shawn's political work has invited controversy, as he often presents the audience with several contradictory points of view, such as Aunt Dan and Lemon, which Shawn described as a cautionary tale against fascism. The monologue The Fever, originally created by Shawn to be performed for small audiences in apartments, describes a person who becomes sick while struggling to find a morally consistent way to live when faced with injustice, and harshly criticizes the record of the U.S. in supporting oppressive anticommunist regimes. In 1997 Shawn discussed the political nature of Aunt Dan and Lemon, The Fever, and The Designated Mourner in an interview. In this interview Shawn talked extensively with Patrick Mcgrath about the thematic developments between the three plays, as well as his own views on Marxist, communist and socialist politics, their relevance to American liberalism, and how government and individual responsibilities for finding solutions to the dichotomy between rich and poor in the world take hold in the characters presented in his plays. Shawn's four plays have been adapted into films: The Designated Mourner (basically a film version of David Hare's stage production), Marie and Bruce, My Dinner With Andre, and The Fever. Oscar winner Vanessa Redgrave stars in The Fever (2004), which first aired on HBO on June 13, 2007.
Shawn has also written political commentary for The Nation, and in 2004 he published the one-issue-only progressive political magazine Final Edition, which features interviews with and articles by Jonathan Schell, Noam Chomsky, Mark Strand, and Deborah Eisenberg. Shawn is credited as translator of Bertolt Brecht's The Threepenny Opera, which opened at Studio 54 in Manhattan on March 25, 2006. He appears briefly in voiceover during "Song about the Futility of Human Endeavor." He published his first nonfiction work, Essays, on September 1, 2009. It is a collection of essays that expresses his perceptions of politics and other subjects that reflect an aspect of his life.
Shawn's involvement with theater began in 1970 when he met Andre Gregory, who has since directed several of his plays. As a stage actor, he has appeared mostly in his own plays and other projects with Gregory. He made his film debut in 1979, playing Diane Keaton's former husband in Woody Allen's Manhattan and an insurance agent in Bob Fosse's All That Jazz. His best-known film roles include Earl in Strange Invaders (1983) and Mr. Hall in Clueless (1995). After seeing his performance in My Dinner With Andre (1981), casting director Janet Hirshenson was so fond of his delivery of the word "inconceivable" that she cast him as the evil Vizzini in The Princess Bride (1987). Other recent roles include Baron Von Westphalen on the 2005 film Southland Tales, in Gossip Girl as Cyrus Rose, and in The Haunted Mansion as Ezra.
His rare noncomedic film roles include two collaborations with Andre Gregory and Louis Malle: the semiautobiographical dialogue My Dinner with Andre, and a combined production-and-backstage-drama of Uncle Vanya titled Vanya on 42nd Street. Shawn quite often appears on television, where he has appeared in many genres and series. He has had recurring roles as the Grand Nagus Zek on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Stuart Best on Murphy Brown, Jeffrey "Jeff" Engels on The Cosby Show, Dr. Howard Stiles on Crossing Jordan, Arnie Ross on Taxi, and a reprisal of his role as Mr. Hall in the television series Clueless, based on the film. He appeared in the 1985 music video for Chaka Khan's "This is My Night." On February 4, 2010, he appeared as Dr. Alan Rubin in The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He appeared in Vegas Vacation (1997) as Marty.
Shawn is also a voice actor for animated films and T.V. series, including the role of the timid Rex in the Toy Story franchise, Mr. Huph in The Incredibles, Principal Mazur in A Goofy Movie, Bertram in Family Guy, and Munk in Happily N'Ever After. In The Fox and the Hound, he was originally to voice Boomer, but was replaced by Paul Winchell. Shawn also replaced Jon Lovitz as Calico in Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore. Coincidentally, Lovitz and Shawn both appeared in I Could Never Be Your Woman.
Shawn is the son of William Shawn, the long-time editor of The New Yorker, and journalist Cecille Shawn (née Lyon). His brother, Allen, is a composer.
In June 2013, Shawn and numerous other celebrities appeared in a video showing support for Chelsea Manning.
Awards and honors
Wallace was honored with the PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award as a Master American Dramatist in 2005.
Couple Profile Source
The Putney School
Harvard University for a BA in History, Oxford for economics and philosphy
Talent Agency (e.g. Modelling)
Short stature, lisping high pitched voice
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