David Alan Grier

David Alan Grier (born June 30, 1956)[1] is an American actor and comedian. He is best known for his work on the sketch comedy television show In Living Color.

David Alan Grier
Grier in August 2007
Born (1956-06-30) June 30, 1956
EducationUniversity of Michigan, Ann Arbor (BA)
Yale University (MFA)
OccupationActor, comedian
Years active1983–present
  • Maritza Rivera
    (m. 1987; div. 1997)
  • Christine Y. Kim
    (m. 2007; div. 2010)

Early life and education

One of three children,[2] Grier was born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of mother Aretas Ruth (née Blaney), a school teacher, and father William Henry Grier, a psychiatrist and writer who co-wrote the book Black Rage.[3]

Grier graduated from Detroit's magnet high school, Cass Tech, and received a B.A. in Radio, Television and Film[4] from the University of Michigan, and an M.F.A. from the Yale School of Drama in 1981.

When Grier was young, his family marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. in a March on Poverty in Detroit, where King gave an early version of the "I Have A Dream" speech.[5]


Immediately after graduating from Yale, Grier landed the role of Jackie Robinson in the short-lived Broadway musical The First, directed by Martin Charnin and written by Joel Siegel.

Grier got his start on the National Public Radio radio drama adaptation of Star Wars in 1981. He was the voice of a nameless X-wing fighter pilot during the Battle of Yavin.

Grier was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical and won the Theatre World Award for The First. He later starred as James "Thunder" Early in the hit Broadway musical Dreamgirls. Grier made his film debut in 1983 in Streamers, directed by Robert Altman. He won the Golden Lion for Best Actor at the Venice Film Festival for the film. He also appeared in the Negro Ensemble Company production A Soldier's Play and reprised his role in the film version A Soldier's Story. Grier also appeared as a geology professor at the fictitious Hillman College in the show A Different World where he was a crush of several of the girls on the show including lead character Denise Huxtable played by actress Lisa Bonet.

In Living Color

Although primarily known for his dramatic work, Grier began to shift towards comedy, making memorable appearances in the cult films Amazon Women on the Moon and I'm Gonna Git You Sucka. Keenen Ivory Wayans, the director of Sucka, cast Grier in his new variety show In Living Color. It became a ratings hit and won an Emmy for Outstanding Variety Series. Grier became a popular cast member through his characters, which ranged from hyperactive children to crotchety old men. Among his prominent characters were obnoxious, megaphone-blaring shop teacher Al MacAfee; the elderly Mr. Brooks, whose autumn years are a never-ending verbal battle with his wife; Calhoun Tubbs, a blues musician with very limited creativity; a member of Funky Finger Productions, a production company with more ambition than resources; Tiny, a prison inmate obsessed with female "breastses"; and, perhaps most famously, flamboyant and effeminate Antoine Merriweather in the "Men on..." sketch series. He also played Rev. Leon Lonnie Love on the TV series Martin. After his success on the show, Grier began appearing in comedies such as Boomerang (as Eddie Murphy's shy friend Gerard), Blankman (with Damon Wayans), In the Army Now (as Fred Ostroff) along with Pauly Shore and Andy Dick in 1994, and as a policeman whose car is memorably crushed and eaten by a giant pod in Jumanji. Grier appeared with Tom Arnold in the 1997 comedy McHale's Navy as Ensign Charles Parker. In 1999, he made a guest appearance as himself in the "Aw, Here it Goes to Hollywood" episode of Nickelodeon's sitcom, Kenan & Kel.[6]

Acting career

After the cancellation of In Living Color, Grier starred in the short-lived sitcoms The Preston Episodes, Damon (with In Living Color co-star Damon Wayans), and DAG.

Grier had a cameo in the Robert De Niro and Edward Burns movie 15 Minutes as a Central Park mugger. In a departure from the childlike roles he often played on In Living Color, he portrayed an abusive father in Rusty Cundieff's anthology film Tales from the Hood.

In 2002, Grier joined the cast of the improv-based ABC sitcom and Bonnie Hunt vehicle Life with Bonnie which ran only two seasons. During this time, he continued to appear in comedy films but also returned to drama in the films Baadasssss! and The Woodsman. He starred in his own Comedy Central stand-up special The Book of David: The Cult Figure's Manifesto. He is also a frequent guest on the Comedy Central show Crank Yankers. Grier was the host of the NBC show Thank God You're Here.

Grier starred in Gym Teacher: The Movie playing the villain, Shelly Bragg. He appeared as Uncle Henry in the ABC 2005 television movie The Muppets' Wizard of Oz.

In October 2008, Grier hosted Chocolate News, a Comedy Central spoof of a TV news magazine show. Comedy Central did not renew the show for a second season.

Grier appeared as Sugar Bear in the 2009 movie Dance Flick.

Grier guest-starred in Season 6 of FOX's Bones. He played Professor Bunsen Jude the Science Dude, the host of a children's TV program. This character was inspired by Bill Nye "the Science Guy".[7]

In May 2013, Grier appeared in Tyler Perry Presents Peeples, playing the role of Virgil Peeples, alongside Kerry Washington and Craig Robinson. Also in 2013, Grier appeared in The Watsons Go To Birmingham, a Hallmark Channel adaptation of Christopher Paul Curtis' 1995 Newbery Honor-winning novel, The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963.

Grier appeared on the CBS TV-adaptation of Bad Teacher, playing the role of principal Carl Gaines.[8] The series also featured actors Sara Gilbert, Ryan Hansen, Kristin Davis, and Sara Rodier.

He played the Cowardly Lion in NBC's live performance of The Wiz, which aired on December 3, 2015.[9]

In 1998, Grier co-starred with Jon Stewart in Elmopalooza, as the director of Jon's production crew.

In 2008, Grier starred in the Comedy Central series Chocolate News which had satirical sketches about current events and news stories. It lasted for one season of ten episodes.

Grier appears as Jimmy Dale in the series Queen Sugar appearing in Season 3.


He began doing stand-up comedy and began hosting the Comedy Central series Premium Blend. He was ranked no. 94 on Comedy Central 100 Greatest Stand-Ups.

Grier made an appearance on the Dave, Shelley, and Chainsaw (DSC) Show (San Diego Jack 100.7 FM) on October 5, 2012 before performances at The Madhouse Comedy Club. He mentioned the "other" David Alan Grier and the "Farrakhan - The Musical" stories.[10]


Grier returned to Broadway to perform in the musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. He returned to Broadway for the premiere of Race, written and directed by David Mamet, opposite James Spader, Kerry Washington, and Richard Thomas, which opened at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on December 6, 2009. Grier received his second Tony Award nomination for his role.[11]

He also appeared in the revival production of The Wiz at the La Jolla Playhouse directed by Des McAnuff.

Grier appeared on Broadway as Sportin' Life in the Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, which opened at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on January 12, 2012, alongside Norm Lewis and Audra McDonald. He was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical for this role.[12] In addition to his Tony Award nomination, Grier received a 2013 Grammy nomination for Best Musical Theater Album for his performance on the cast recording of the play.[13]

Other work

David was a contestant on the eighth season of Dancing with the Stars,[14] partnered with Kym Johnson. By the fourth week of the competition, Grier announced that he had lost 26 pounds.[15] He was eliminated in the fifth week.

Grier's first book Barack Like Me: The Chocolate-Covered Truth was published by Simon & Schuster in 2009.[16][17] The book recounts Grier's own life story, and was written with Alan Eisenstock.

Grier appeared in an episode of Clean House along with his brother and his brother's family. Grier invited the show to help his brother due to his severe problems with clutter, and the family received a home makeover.

Grier hosted the game show Snap Decision, which debuted August 7, 2017 on the Game Show Network and many Sinclair TV stations.[18]

Personal life

Grier was married to Maritza Rivera and divorced in 1997. In July 2007, he married Christine Y. Kim, an associate curator of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. She gave birth to their daughter, Luisa Danbi Grier-Kim on January 10, 2008, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, in Los Angeles.[19] On July 9, 2009, Kim filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences.[20]

He is a fan of motorcycles[21][22][23][24][25] and owns the rare Yamaha YZF-R1 Limited Edition.[26] On the August 10, 2009, episode of Loveline, Grier agreed to auction it to aid Bryan Bishop's Tumor Fund, but walked off set while Carolla and the audio engineer bickered on air.

He is an avid cook and began food blogging during the run of the play Race, where James Spader helped to critique the food Grier made.[5]



Year Title Role Notes
1983 Streamers Roger Venice Film Festival Award for Best Actor
1984 A Soldier's Story Corporal Cobb
1985 Beer Elliott Morrison
1986 From the Hip Steve Hadley
1987 Amazon Women on the Moon Don 'No Soul' Simmons
1988 Off Limits Rogers
1988 I'm Gonna Git You Sucka Newsman
1988 Me and Him Peter Conklin
1990 Loose Cannons Drummond
1990 Almost an Angel Det. Bill
1992 Boomerang Gerard
1994 In the Army Now Fred Ostroff
1994 Blankman Kevin Walker
1995 Goldilocks and the Three Bears Spike
1995 Tales from the Hood Carl
1995 Jumanji Carl Bentley
1997 McHale's Navy Ensign Charles Parker
1997 Top of the World Detective Augustus
1998 Elmopalooza Himself (show's director)
1999 Freeway II: Confessions of a Trickbaby Mr. Butz
1999 Stuart Little Red Voice
2000 3 Strikes Detective Jenkins
2000 Return to Me Charlie Johnson
2000 The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle Measures
2001 15 Minutes Mugger in Central Park
2003 Baadasssss! Clyde Houston
2003 Blue Collar Comedy Tour: The Movie Himself/Announcer
2003 Tiptoes Jerry Robin, Jr.
2004 The Woodsman Bob
2005 The Muppets' Wizard of Oz Uncle Henry
2005 Bewitched Jim Fields
2006 Little Man Jimmy
2008 Kissing Cousins The Griller
2008 The Hustle Rev. Isaac Montgomery Paid
2008 The Poker House Stymie
2008 An American Carol Rastus Malone
2009 Dance Flick Sugar Bear
2009 Astro Boy Mr. Squirt / Math Cowboy / Boxer Robot Voice
2010 Something Like a Business 3D
2011 Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil Moss the Troll Voice
2013 Peeples Virgil Peeples
2015 Road Hard Michael
2017 The Big Sick Andy Dodd
2018 Arizona Coburn
2019 Native Son Marty
TBA Coffee & Kareem Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
1985 The Equalizer Desk Sergeant Episode: "The Lock Box"
1986 All Is Forgiven Oliver Royce 9 episodes
1987 CBS Summer Playhouse Deter Phibin Episode: "Kingpins"
1987 A Different World Prof. Bryan Walcott Episode: "Romancing Mr. Stone"
1988 Tour of Duty Harold Episode: "Soldiers"
1988 Duet Gordon Episode: "Oh My God, I Left the Baby on the Bus"
1988 Tanner '88 Secret Serviceman 2 episodes
1989 ALF FBI Agent #1 Episode: "Wanted: Dead or Alive"
1990 Equal Justice Stone Episode: "A Sucker's Bet"
19901994 In Living Color Various 143 episodes
19931997 Martin Reverend Leon Lonnie Love 4 episodes
1995 Saturday Night Live Antoine Meriweather Episode: "Damon Wayans/Dionne Farris"
1995 Dream On Marshall Episode: "Take Two Tablets, and Get Me to Mt. Sinai"
1995 The Preston Episodes David Preston 10 episodes
1995 Pinky and the Brain Marlon (voice) Episode: "TV or Not TV"
19952000 Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child Various voices 3 episodes
1998 Damon Bernard 13 episodes
Nominated – Image Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
1998 Cosby Gil Episode: "Chemistry"
1998 Hercules: The Animated Series Memnon (voice) Episode: "Hercules and the Phil Factor"
1999 A Saintly Switch Dan Anderson Television movie
1999 The '60s Fred Hampton Television movie
1999 Kenan & Kel Himself Episode: "Aw, Here It Goes To Hollywood : Part 2"
2000 Angels in the Infield Bob Bugler Television movie
2000 The X-Files Cinema Audience Episode: "Hollywood A.D."
2000 Buzz Lightyear of Star Command Tubunch (voice) Episode: "Stress Test"
20002001 DAG Jerome Dagget 17 episodes
2002 King of Texas Rip Television movie
2002 Sesame Street Aladdin Episode: "#33.45"
2002 Boston Public Laurence Williams Episode: "Chapter Forty-Two"
2002 The Proud Family Reuben (voice) Episode: "Behind Family Lines"
20022004 Life with Bonnie David Bellows 44 episodes
Nominated – Image Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor – Television Series
20022005 Crank Yankers Various voices 15 episodes
2003 Samurai Jack Da Samurai/Junk Monster (voice) Episode: "Samurai Versus Samurai"
20032005 My Wife and Kids Jimmy 3 episodes
2007 Thank God You're Here Host 7 episodes
2010 Bones Professor Bunsen Jude Episode: "The Body and the Bounty"
2010 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Jeremy Swift Episode: "Branded"
2013 Happy Endings Terry Chuckles Episode: "In the Heat of the Noche"
2013 Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja Rudd Rhymez (voice) Episode: "Hip Hopocalypse Now"
2014 The Soul Man Jesse Episode: "Obama Drama"
2014 Bad Teacher Carl Gaines 13 episodes
2014 Black Dynamite Doctor (voice) Episode: "How Honeybee Got Her Groove Back or Night of the Living Dickheads"
20142015 Comedy Bang! Bang! Network President Recurring role; 5 episodes
20152017 The Carmichael Show Joe Carmichael Main cast; 32 episodes
2015 The McCarthys Dr. Hugh Morris Episode: "Family Therapy"
2015 Cutthroat Kitchen Himself/judge Episode: "Taco Dirty to Me"
2015 The Wiz Live! The Cowardly Lion / Robert The Farmhand Man #2 Live performance
2016 The Eric Andre Show Himself/David Alan Thicke Episode: "Dennis Rodman; Haley Joel Osment"
2017 Snap Decision Host
2017 A Christmas Story Live! Santa Claus Live performance
2018 A Series of Unfortunate Events Hal 2 Episodes
20182019 The Cool Kids Hank Main role
2019 The Resident Lamar Broome Reoccurring role Season 3, Episode 2
2019 Crank Yankers Himself (voice) 2 episodes


  1. Katsilometes, John (July 1, 2010). "Albino gorillas? Farrakhan: The Musical? With Grier, anything is possible". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved July 2, 2010.
  2. "David Alan Grier". Biography. Retrieved 2017-04-07.
  3. "David Alan Grier Biography (1955?-)". www.filmreference.com. Retrieved 2017-04-07.
  4. http://lovelinetapes.com/shows/2005-04-17-david-alan-grier/
  5. King, Larry (19 May 2014). "David Alan Grier" (Video interview). Larry King Now. Retrieved 9 August 2014.
  6. "Aww, Here It Goes to Hollywood: Part 2" on IMDb
  7. "Bones Exclusive: David Alan Grier to Woo Brennan?". TVGuide.com. Retrieved August 18, 2010.
  8. "David Alan Grier to Play Principal in CBS' 'Bad Teacher'". The Hollywood Reporter. February 16, 2013.
  9. Blake, Emily (August 4, 2015). "NBC's 'The Wiz Live!' finds its Cowardly Lion". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved October 18, 2015.
  10. "Albino gorillas? Farrakhan: The Musical? With Grier, anything is possible". LasVegasSun.com. 2010-07-01. Retrieved April 7, 2017.
  11. "2010 Tony Nominations Announced; Fela! and La Cage Top List". Archived from the original on 2010-05-06. Retrieved 2010-05-04.
  12. "David Alan Grier". Broadway.com. Retrieved 2017-04-07.
  13. "59th Annual GRAMMY Awards Winners & Nominees". GRAMMY.com. Retrieved 2017-04-07.
  14. "'Dancing With The Stars' Season 8 Cast Revealed!". Access. Retrieved March 12, 2019.
  15. "Grier, Wozniak reveal 'Dancing' weight loss". Digital Spy. April 1, 2009. Retrieved March 12, 2019.
  16. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 23, 2009. Retrieved July 1, 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  17. "The best things to eat, drink and do in Chicago - RedEye Chicago". Chicago Now. Retrieved April 7, 2017.
  18. Andreeva, Nellie (28 June 2017). "'Snap Decision' Game Show Hosted By David Alan Grier To Air On GSN & In Broadcast Syndication At the Same Time". Deadline Hollywood.
  19. Keith, Amy Elisa (January 11, 2008). "Comedian David Alan Grier Welcomes a Girl". People. Retrieved March 12, 2019.
  20. "David Alan Grier -- In Living ... Single". TMZ. July 9, 2009. Retrieved March 12, 2019.
  21. "July 30 Seattle 100 Charity Event To Include Racing Stars, Celebrities". roadracingworld.com. Retrieved 2017-04-07.
  22. "2005 Seattle 100 Charity Ride - Motorcycle USA". Motorcycle USA. Retrieved 2017-04-07.
  23. "Yates, Gobert, Hayes To Ride In 4th Annual Seattle 100 Charity Event At Pacific Raceways". roadracingworld.com. Retrieved 2017-04-07.
  24. Gay, Nancy (July 23, 2007). "MOTOGP AT LAGUNA SECA NOTEBOOK / Sponsor re-energizes series at racetrack". San Francisco Chronicle.
  25. Diamond, Jamie (August 13, 2006). "A NIGHT OUT WITH -- Adam Carolla; Is a Scallop an Animal?". The New York Times.
  26. Adam Carolla Podcast, 2009-05-29
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