Denis Leary
Birth Date:
August 18, 1957
Birth Place:
Worcester, Massachusetts, USA
6' 3
Famous for:
His smoking and ranting in the cantankerous, quick-witted MTV promos of the early 1990s
actor, director, writer, comedian, producer
Saint Peter Marion High School (a private Catholic high school)
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Rescue Me


First coming to prominence with his smoking and ranting in the cantankerous, quick-witted MTV promos of the early 1990s, Irish American actor, comedian, write and director Denis Leary eventually reached TV stardom as the star and co-creator of the FX hit series “Rescue Me” (2004-2011), from which he collected a total of three Emmy nominations (two of which for his acting) and a Golden Globe nominations, not to mention nominations at the Prism Awards and Satellite Awards. He gained additional Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for his scene stealing role of Michael Whouley, a Democratic political consultant, on the made for TV film “Recount” (HBO, 2008). Leary has appeared in a number of films, including “Judgment Night” (1993), “The Ref” (1994), “Two If by Sea” (1996), which he also co-wrote, “The Thomas Crown Affair” (1999, earned a Blockbuster Entertainment Award), “Company Man” (2000), “Double Whammy” (2001) and “The Secret Lives of Dentists” (2002). His voice can be heard as saber-toothed tiger Diego in the “Ice Age” film series. He has released two records of his stand comedy: “No Cure for Cancer” (1993) and “Lock 'n Load” (1997). HE also had an EP called “Merry F#%$in' Christmas” in 2004.

Leary has been married to his writer wife Ann Lembeck since 1989. They have two children together. The family currently live in Connecticut. Leary is good friends with Joe Mantegna and Gina Gershon, in addition to Mario Cantone. He has dual U.S and Irish Citizenship.

A sports lover, Leary is an ice hockey fan and once wanted to be an NFL star. He has his own backyard hockey rink at his home in Connecticut, with piping installed under the ice surface to help the ice stay frozen. His favorite NHL team is the Boston Bruins. Mr. Leary is also a fan of the MLB team Boston Red Sox and the NFL team Green Bay Packers.

Leary established the Leary Firefighters Foundation (LFF) charity in response to the warehouse fire that killed six firefighters in his hometown of Worcester, Massachusetts on December 3, 1999. One of the six heroic firefighters killed was his cousin Jeremiah Lucey. He also launched LFF projects for New York's Bravest in response to the FDNY's losses in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and in New Orleans to help restore firefighting capabilities destroyed in Hurricane Katrina, 2005.

Emerson College

Childhood and Family:

The second of four children, Denis Leary was born Denis Colin Leary on August 18, 1957, in Worcester, Massachusetts, to Catholic Irish immigrants. His father, John Leary, was an auto mechanic, and his mother, Nora, was a maid. Raised in a working class family, young Denis had never considered a career in acting until a teacher persuaded him to take part in a school production. After graduating from Saint Peter-Marian High School in Worcester, he studied performing arts at Emerson College in Boston, where, in addition to trying his hand in acting and writing, he co-founded the Emerson Comedy Workshop. It was also in Emerson that he met fellow comic Mario Cantone, who he considers his closest friend. After graduating in 1979, Denis taught comedy writing classes at the school for five years. Meanwhile, he continued to hone his comic skills by doing stand-up comedy at the local comedy clubs. He also worked as a contributing editor for “Details” magazine.

On August 19, 1989, Denis married Ann Lembeck (born August 14, 1962). They met when he was her instructor in an English class at Emerson College. The couple have two children, son Jack Leary, who was born prematurely in 1990 during their visit to London, and daughter Devin Leary (born 1992). His wife released a memoir called “An Innocent, a Broad,” chronicling the premature birth of Jack,. She also wrote a novel, “ Outtakes From a Marriage,” which was published in 2008.

No Cure For Cancer


Denis Leary began performing stand up comedy in Boston in the late 1970s. He hosted his own stand up night show at the underground club “Play It Again Sam's” and also wrote and performed on local comedy series, “Lenny Clarke's Late Show,” which was hosted by his friend Lenny Clarke and written by Boston comedy writer Martin Olson. During this period, Leary also formed a band with musicians from the Comedy Workshop. The group played comical songs that would become a trademark of Leary's ultimate break.

Following a five year teaching stint at Emerson College, Leary moved to New York City with his wife and started to break into the city's standup scene and get writing work. One of his early gigs was on the MTV game show “Remote Control,”where he served as both writer and performer between 1987 and 1989. Leary played various characters on the show such as Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, the “brother” of co-host Colin Quinn, and artist Andy Warhol.

In 1990, Leary traveled to London to host the cable comedy showcase “London Underground.” Traveling with him was his pregnant wife Ann. Unluckily, during their stay, her water broke and their son Jack was born prematurely. The couple had to stay in London for several months for the sake of their son's health. During this period, Leary wrote his one man show, “No Cure For Cancer,” which debuted at the Edinburgh International Arts Festival in 1990. He performed the show in London and in New York City and received strong reviews. The show later aired on the Showtime cable network as a comedy special in 1992 and released as an album in 1993.

Leary, however, did not reach fame nationally until he began doing short comedy spots on MTV in 1991. These clips featured him launching into a quick verbal attack on well known figures from Cindy Crawford to the rock group R.E.M., and other subjects, such as racism. As usual, he delivered these cunning wisecracks while holding his trademark cigarette.

Leary made his film acting debut with a cameo role in “Strictly Business” (1991), a comedy film directed by Kevin Hooks and starring Tommy Davidson and Joseph C. Phillips. He followed it up with roles in such films as Gene Quintano's “Loaded Weapon 1,” “The Sandlot,” where he played Scott's stepfather Bill, “Who's the Man?,” “Gunmen” and “Demolition Man,” where he co-starred as Edgar Friendly (all 1993), and had his first leading role in the Stephen Hopkins directed action/thriller “Judgment Night” (also 1993), where he played a gang leader named Fallon. 1993 also saw Leary's sarcastic song, “ Asshole,” from his first comedy album, “No Cure for Cancer,” gain much notoriety. The song was voted No. 1 in an Australian youth radio poll and used as part of the Holsten Pils series of ads in the UK, where Leary was taking part, with adapted lyrics criticizing a drunk driver.

Leary's breakthrough role arrived when he was cast as the smart talking criminal, Gus, on the black comedy film “The Ref” (1994), which was directed by Ted Demme and written by Richard LaGravenese and Marie Weiss. In the following year, he worked with Jacob Tierney, Drake Bell and Gena Rowlands in Terence Davies' “The Neon Bible,” portrayed CW3 Davis Poole in Simon Wincer's “Operation Dumbo Drop,” opposite Danny Glover and Ray Liotta, and made his directing debut with “Lust” segment of the TV film “National Lampoon's “Favorite Deadly Sins””. “Lust” was written by Leary's wife, Ann Lembeck. Leary won a 1996 CableACE for Directing a Comedy Special for his efforts. He also acted in the film as Jack.

Leary starred with Joe Mantegna and Annabella Sciorra in the comedy/thriller movie “Underworld” (1996), for director Roger Christian, and was cast as a petty thief named Francis 'Frank' O'Brien in the romance/comedy film “Two If by Sea” (1996), opposite Sandra Bullock. He also wrote the script of the later film with his wife and Mike Armstrong. Next up for Leary, he played a world-weary pianist and writer in Juan José Campanella 's “Love Walked In” (1997), for which he also served as a producer, co-starred with Christopher Walken, Henry Thomas, Johnny Galecki, Sean Patrick and Flanery in Peter O'Fallon's “Suicide Kings” (1997), supported Matthew Modine, Catherine Keener and Maxwell Caulfield in Tom DiCillo's “The Real Blonde” (1997), was cast as the handless senator's chief of staff, Nick, on Mark Joffe's “The MatchMaker” (1997) and co-starred in Barry Levinson's Academ,y Award nominating film, “Wag the Dog” (1997). The same year, he also acted in two HBO TV films, “The Second Civil War,” opposite Beau Bridges, Phil Hartman and James Earl Jones, and “SUBWAYStories: Tales from the Underground.” Still in 1997, Leary returned to the one man show, “Denis Leary: Lock n Load,” which was filmed by Demme for HBO's Comedy Hour.

Leary again reunited with Ted Demme for the film “Monument Ave.” (1998), in which the actor starred as a small-time criminal named Bobby O'Grady, worked with Joseph Cross, Timothy Reifsnyder and Dana Delany in M. Night Shyamalan's “Wide Awake” (1998), portrayed Gil Mars in Joe Dante's “Small Soldiers” (1998) and provided the voice of Francis in the animated film “A Bug's Life” (1998). The following year, he co-starred with Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo in the remake of “The Thomas Crown Affair,” from which he won a Blockbuster Entertainment for Favorite Supporting Actor – Drama/Romance for his portrayal of Det. Michael McCann, played Bob Findley in Clint Eastwood's “True Crime,” was cast opposite Billy Crudup and Samantha Morton in “Jesus' Son” and worked with William Hurt and Jennifer Tilly in the Dutch thriller film “Do Not Disturb,” by Dick Maas.

Entering the new millennium, Leary appeared in such films as Matt Palmieri's “Sand” (2000), starring Michael Vartan, Norman Reedus and Kari Wührer, “Lakeboat” (2000), an adaptation of David Mamet's comic play of the same name, directed by Joe Mantegna, “Company Man” (2000), where he played the role of Officer Fry, Tom DiCillo's “Double Whammy” (2001), opposite Elizabeth Hurley, Luis Guzmán, Victor Argo and Chris Noth, Campbell Scott's “Final” (2001), Victoria Hochberg's“Bad Boy” (2002), which marked his second film with Elizabeth Hurley, “Ice Age” (2002), voicing Diego, and Alan Rudolph's “The Secret Lives of Dentists” (2002), with Campbell Scott and Hope Davis. He received Blimp Award nomination for Favorite Voice from an Animated Movie at the 2003 Kids' Choice Awards for “Ice Age.”

Meanwhile, on the small screen, Leary co-created (with Peter Tolan) and starred in the comedy series “The Job,” which ran for a season on ABC from March 14, 2001 to April 24, 2002. The show brought Leary a 2002 Television Critics Association nomination for Individual Achievement in Comedy. In 2002, he provided the voice of Joe Smith in an episode of “Crank Yankers.”

However, Leary did not enjoy a huge break on television until he co-created (again with Peter Tolan) and starred in the FX popular drama series “Rescue Me” (2004-2011), centering on the professional and personal lives of a group of New York City firefighters in the fictitious Ladder 62 / Engine 99 firehouse. Playing a Manhattan firefighter named Tommy Gavin, Leary received two Emmy nominations for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (2006, 2007), a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama (2005), two Prism nominations for Performance in a Drama Series, Multi-Episode Storyline (2006, 2007), and three Satellite nominations for Outstanding Actor in a Series, Drama (2005) and Best Actor in a Series, Drama (2006, 2007). He earned an additional Emmy nomination in the category of Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series for the pilot.

In 2004, Leary released the album “Merry F#%$in Christmas,” which included a mix of new music and previously unreleased recordings, and some tracks from “Lock 'n Load.”

Leary returned to the big screen in 2006 when he reprised his voice role of Diego on the animated sequel “Ice Age: The Meltdown.” Two years later, he was cast as Michael Whouley on the HBO political drama film “Recount,” opposite Kevin Spacey, Laura Dern, Tom Wilkinson and John Hurt. For his fine acting as the Democratic political consultant, he was nominated for an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie in 2008 and a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television in 2009. The same year, he also executive produced the FOX show “Canterbury's Law,” where he also wrote and directed the pilot episode. In 2009, Leary again voiced Diego in “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs.”

Leary is set to play George Stacy in the upcoming superhero film “The Amazing Spider-Man” (2012), which will star Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker / Spider-Man. He also will voice Diego in “ Ice Age: Continental Drift,” the fourth installment in the “Ice Age” series.


  • Blockbuster Entertainment: Favorite Supporting Actor – Drama/Romance, “The Thomas Crown Affair,” 2000

  • CableACE: Directing a Comedy Special, “Favorite Deadly Sins,” 1996

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