Comedian and political satirist Bill Maher was shot to fame as the host of the long-running late-night talk shows “Politically Incorrect” (Comedy Central, 1993-96; ABC 1997-2002) and “Real Time with Bill Maher” (HBO, 2003-2007).
“You know what I don't understand? Why does the military love Bush? I never understand. It's such a dysfunctional, abusive relationship. It's like a husband who beats up his wife and she comes back for more. This guy is not good to the troops. He doesn't give them the armor they need. He doesn't send them where they should be fighting. I don't get it.” Bill Maher
The controversial comedian, who received a great deal of bad press for his comments after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center when he criticized the United States government, received the Los Angeles Press Club's highest honor, the President's Award, for "championing free speech" in June 2002.
Maher has appeared in the films "D.C. Cab" (1983), "Ratboy" (1986), "House II: The Second Story" (1987), "Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death" (1989) and "Pizza Man" (1991). He also guest starred in such TV shows as "Murder, She Wrote," "Married with Children," "Roseanne," and "Larry King Live." Next, the 5' 8" comedian will play himself in the upcoming films "Swing Vote" and "Religulous," which he also co-produced.
“People on the right say to people like me, 'Oh, you hate America.' And I always say, 'No, I love America. I want it back. I don't want you representing it. I don't want torture representing it.' If I hated it, I'd be okay with being represented by the torturers.” Bill Maher
New York-Born; New Jersey-Raised
Childhood and Family:
Born in New York, New York, on January 20, 1956, William Maher Jr. grew up in River Vale, New Jersey. Son to Irish Catholic newsman Bill Maher (died in 1992 of cancer), who worked as a broadcast announcer and editor at WOR and NBC, and Jewish nurse Julie Maher, young Bill was raised in the Catholic faith. He has one sister named Kathy Maher, who now teaches English.
“Religion to me is a bureaucracy between man and God that I don't need.” Bill Maher
Bill attended Pascack Hills High School, in New Jersey and graduated with a BA degree in English from Cornell University, in Ithaca, New York, in 1978.
He once had a companion named Stacie, with whom he was together from 1988 to 1993. He now remains single and resides in Los Angeles. He is very good friends with Ann Coulter, Arianna Huffington and Christopher Reid
Real Time with Bill Maher
While attending Cornell University, Bill Maher began doing stand-up comedy at such starter venues as a Chinese restaurant in Paramus, alongside then-high school student Eddie Murphy. He also performed at the Catch a Rising Star club in New York one summer.
Following his college graduation in 1978, Maher began his career in New York, where he became a fixture at Catch, alongside future top names like Jerry Seinfeld and Paul Reiser. One night during a regular performance, he was spotted by an exec from NBC's long-running entertainment program “The Tonight Show” and was given a chance to appear on the show
Maher branched out into acting and landed his film debut in the Joel Schumacher-directed comedy starring Mr. T, Max Gail, Adam Baldwin, and Gary Busey, "D.C. Cab" (1983). He made his TV debut as a series regular on the short-lived NBC sitcom starring Geena Davis, "Sara" (1985), playing a sleazy lawyer named Marty Lang.
Maher appeared in the made-for-television movie "Club Med" (1986), starring Jack Scalia and Linda Hamilton, and landed his first film lead role in writer/director J.F. Lawton's "Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death" (1989).
In the early '90s, Maher hosted CBS’ "Midnight Hour" and performed on HBO's "One Night Stand," alongside Bill Hicks, Colin Quinn, Dom Irrera, Gilbert Gottfried, Norm Macdonald, Eddie Griffin, Martin Lawrence, Larry Miller, Ellen DeGeneres, Louis C.K., and George Wallace.
Maher next served as moderator on the late-night, half-hour political talk show "Politically Incorrect," which was on Comedy Central from 1993 to 1996, and later on ABC from 1997 to 2002. On the show, Maher was joined by four guests from the world of politics and entertainment for a free-wheeling discussion of current events. The show, which first originated from New York City but soon moved to Los Angeles to make it easier to get "stars" as guests, featured comedian Jerry Seinfeld, Howard Stern, sidekick Robin Quivers, Republican Party strategist Ed Rollins, and comedian Larry Miller in its first episode.
"Politically Incorrect" received several Emmy nominations, including one for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing for a Variety or Music Program, and Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series. It was also nominated for two Writers Guild of America awards for best Comedy/Variety series in 2001 and 2002 and won two Cable Ace Awards in 1995 and 1996 for Best Talk Show Series.
Following Maher's September 11, 2001, comments, in which he argued that the men who attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11 were not "cowardly" as stated by U.S. President George W. Bush and went on to suggest that the United States was cowardly for bombing from a safe distance, some sponsors pulled advertising from ABC and some local affiliates refused to run his show. Although ABC publicly supported him, "Politically Incorrect" was canceled the following June. Nevertheless, in June 2002, Maher received the President's Award, the Los Angeles Press Club's highest honor, for "championing free speech."
During his "Politically Incorrect" tenure, Maher wrote three books, "True Story: A Novel" (1994), "Does Anybody Have a Problem with That? The Best of Politically Incorrect" (1997), and "When You Ride Alone You Ride with Bin Laden: What the Government Should Be Telling Us to Help Fight the War on Terrorism" (2002), which was nominated for the Best Spoken Word Album Grammy award. He also got his very own HBO specials titled “Stuff That Struck Me Funny” (1998) and “Bill Maher: Be More Cynical” (2000).
"The last special I did on HBO, which I guess was my fourth, was called 'The Golden Goose Special' because stand-up, for me and others who have shows, is the 'Golden Goose.' It's the thing from which everything comes. So I've never quit [doing stand-up] and it's a little harder now with this demanding schedule, but whenever I can, I still like to do it. It's still the most rewarding, the most immediate, and in a lot of ways the most real. It's just you and the audience. They're the director."
Following the demise of "Politically Incorrect," Maher signed on with HBO to host "Real Time with Bill Maher," which began on February 21, 2003.
During its run, "Real Time with Bill Maher" received a handful of Emmy nominations, including one for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series, Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program, Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Special, and Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program. It also won the Television Producer of the Year Award in Variety Television at the PGA Awards in 2007.
Meanwhile, Maher also performed his one-man show on Broadway in the spring of 2003 and appeared in a TV commercial for “Desex and the City” (2005). He hosted an internet-exclusive talk show on Amazon.com titled "Amazon Fishbowl" in 2006, and has been a regular guest on CNN’s "Larry King Live."
Maher will appear as himself in the upcoming films "Swing Vote," a comedy directed by Joshua Michael Stern starring Kevin Costner, and "Religulous," a documentary directed by Larry Charles which he also co-produces. In the latter film, Maher, who is known for his stance against religion, delivers his views on various world religions as he travels.
PGA: Television Producer of the Year Award in Variety Television, "Real Time with Bill Maher," 2007
CableACE: Talk Show Series, "Politically Incorrect," 1994
CableACE: Talk Show Series, "Politically Incorrect," 1995