Adam Sandler is a comedic superstar whose films have grossed over $2 billion at the box office so far. He is a household name because of his funny characters, although he has also done a few darker roles to prove his acting mettle. He has built a film empire that employs many of his friends, but he wasn’t always such a huge success. Like so many of his acting contemporaries, he had to toil doing smaller jobs behind the camera before he could become such a huge hit in front of it.
Sandler was born on September 9, 1966, in Brooklyn, New York. He was raised in a Jewish household by father Stanley, who was an electrical engineer, and mother Judy, who taught nursery school. Although Sandler obviously loves Brooklyn based on how often it appears in his films, his family actually moved to New Hampshire when he was just five, and he attended school there for several years. When he was an adult, he decided to move back to the city, attending the New York University Tisch School of the Arts. He graduated in 1988 and began his acting and writing career.
He got off to a good start, winning a recurring role as one of Theo’s friends in the hugely popular “The Cosby Show.” He got a few small parts in television movies as well and did stand-up comedy shows in local clubs throughout this part of his life. It was during one of these comedy routines that he got what might have been his biggest break when comedian Dennis Miller saw his act. Miller was a cast member of “Saturday Night Live,” and he recommended young Sandler to producer Lorne Michaels. He was hired for the show in 1990 and began quickly making a name for himself with such characters as Opera Man, Cajun Man, and one of the Gap Girls. He also wrote several funny songs that he performed live, showcasing his songwriting abilities and guitar skills.
Sandler left the show in 1995 for what were then unknown reasons. Most assumed that he had become so popular that he wanted the freedom to pursue a movie career. Years later, however, he made a talk show appearance in which he admitted that he and fellow comedian Chris Farley were actually fired from the show. No matter why he left, it was actually excellent timing, because he started making movies such as “Billy Madison” and “Happy Gilmore,” which would transform him from an ensemble cast member to movie star within a few years.
By 1998, Sandler had already made a name for himself in the movies and branched out to romantic comedies by costarring with Drew Barrymore in “The Wedding Singer.” The collaboration was so successful that the two would team up again a few years later for another romantic comedy hit, “50 First Dates.” After more hits such as “Big Daddy” and “Little Nicky,” Sandler wanted to stretch his acting muscles and decided to take on a much darker role in “Punch Drunk Love,” which was hailed by critics as a revelatory role for the comedian.
“Big Daddy” would turn out to be a very important movie in Sandler’s future, and not just because it earned him a big payday. A relatively unknown actress named Jackie Titone earned a small role as a bartender in the film. She was introduced to Sandler during filming, and the two fell in love. In 2000, Jackie converted to Judaism, and three years after that, the happy couple married. They now have two daughters: Sadie, born in 2006, and Sunny, born in 2008.
Fatherhood did not slow down Sandler’s success, although it might have informed some of his film choices. He still does the frat-boy comedies that he is so famous for, but he now sprinkles in a few family-friendly films as well. In 2008, the year Sunny was born, he starred in “Bedtime Stories” about a man who makes up bedtime stories that later come true. He also continued his pursuit of the occasional drama, starring in “Funny People” in 2009. Despite the film’s name, it is actually very much a drama and costars Seth Rogen, another comedian looking to prove that he could take on more serious roles.
Since then, Sandler has gone on to make “Grown Ups” and its sequel “Grown Ups 2,” which center on families but mix in a little bit of Sandler’s trademark crude comedy. He has cowritten and produced several of his films and still frequently casts several of his good buddies, including Rob Schneider and Nick Swardson. With films such as “Blended” and “Three Mississippi” currently in production, Sandler’s empire shows no signs of crumbling.