Comedian Andy Dick triumphed over personal tragedy, drug and alcohol addiction, and bad press to become one of Hollywood's most unforgettable -- and unconventional -- jokesters. Born on December 21, 1965 in Charleston, SC, Dick is the adopted son of the late Allen and Sue Dick. His father, an officer on a nuclear submarine, carted the family with him all over the world: Dick and his brood lived in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New York, and Yugoslavia before settling in Illinois. There, at Joliet West High School, Dick learned that the way to keep people's attention was to make them laugh. He began honing his comedic skills by giving a spontaneous standup routine during freshman orientation and eventually won the race for Homecoming King with the slogan, "Don't vote for a jock, vote for A. Dick." After graduation, Dick briefly attended a local college before abandoning school work for the Chicago comedy scene. He studied improv under Del Close and performed at Chicago's celebrated Second City and the ImprovOlympics while appearing in various commercials. By his early twenties, Dick was doing standup or improv every night of the week, but still worked various day jobs to support his then-wife, Ivonne, and their young son.
Dick labored as a delivery guy, a waiter, and as a tour guide before leaving Chicago for Los Angeles in 1988. The move was not an immediate success: Dick's agent dropped him upon arrival, and the comedian could not find a new one. He and Ivonne divorced a year later. Dick continued to perform at coffee houses and open-mike nights when Ben Stiller (whom he met in Chicago) tapped him to appear in the short film Elvis Stories (1989). Three years later, Stiller gave Dick his big break on Fox's The Ben Stiller Show. Performing opposite the likes of Stiller, Janeane Garofalo, and Bob Odenkirk, Dick created the memorable characters Manson Lassie and Skank the sock puppet for the Emmy-winning, but short-lived, sketch comedy program. Dick went on to guest-host Talk Soup and appear on The Nanny, before making a cameo in Stiller's first feature film, Reality Bites (1994), and stealing the Pauly Shore vehicle In the Army Now (1994) from its star. In the meantime, Dick met and romanced artist Lena Sved, with whom he had a son and daughter. In 1995, Dick played the son of agents 86 and 99 on Fox's doomed remake of Get Smart. That same year he had much better luck as the naive, bewildered cub reporter Matthew Brock on NBC's NewsRadio. The sitcom was a critical smash, making Dick a tabloid favorite. During breaks from NewsRadio, he appeared in the independent Bongwater (1998) and opposite Stiller in Permanent Midnight (1998), as well as lent his voice to the villain Nuka in The Lion King II: Simba's Pride (1998).