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15 Comedic Actors Who Appeared on Law & Order

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Actors and actresses known for their comedic work can often get boxed into that particular genre. Yet during its 20-year run, Law & Order never shied away from casting both established and up-and-coming comedians in dramatic parts. Here are 15 of them. 

1. Jim Gaffigan

Best known for his work as a stand-up comedian, Jim Gaffigan’s appearance during Law & Order's final season had him playing an adoptive father with a household full of children who ends up accused of killing his wife. The twist? The children all have special needs, a situation Gaffigan's character believes makes his family ripe for their own reality show. His deceased wife was apparently a bit less enthused about the idea. The episode was Gaffigan's second Law & Order appearance; he popped up in a 1998 episode, too (plus twice on SVU and once on Criminal Intent).

2. Anthony Anderson

Though his early attempts at stand-up comedy ended in failure, Anthony Anderson has gone on to build an eclectic acting resume made up of all kinds of roles in a variety of genres. Despite that work history, he is most often talked about for his comedic ventures on shows like All About the Andersons (his first starring sitcom), The Bernie Mac Show, and his Emmy-nominated role on Black-ish. Yet Anderson proved his dramatic chops with his role as Detective Kevin Bernard, the serious and sometimes-conservative partner of Detective Cyrus Lupo (Jeremy Sisto), in the series' final two seasons.

3. Samantha Bee

From 2003 to 2015, Samantha Bee has served as a correspondent for The Daily Show, where she conducted interviews at the Republican National Convention and offered a theatrical interpretation of Fox News' The Five. Somehow, Bee made time in her schedule to take her turn on the Law & Order guest star rotation. Playing a talk show host on a show eerily similar to The View, her character becomes part of a blackmailing scandal when one of her former female staffers threatens to reveal their affair ... then ends up dead. 

4. Chevy Chase

Between Saturday Night Live and comedy classics like Caddyshack, Fletch, and Vacation, Chevy Chase has been a household name since the mid-1970s. Though rumors of difficult behavior have plagued him for years, Chase was willing to play a man arrested for drunk driving who spirals into an anti-Semitic rant reminiscent of Mel Gibson’s unfortunate tirade in a 2006 episode.

5. Rob Corddry

Rob Corddry trained at Upright Citizens Brigade, worked as a correspondent for The Daily Show, and created and starred in Childrens Hospital all before taking on a dramatic role in a 2009 episode of Law & Order. He played the owner of a website that was partially responsible for the death of a fashion photographer after they published his personal information online. 

6. Michael Showalter

Wet Hot American Summer co-creator Michael Showalter appeared in two episodes of Law & Order: First, in 2000, as a forensics expert; then, in 2009, he played a sleazy reality TV producer looking to exploit the family of a fame-hungry man (played by the aforementioned Gaffigan).

7. Jerry Stiller

From his work as one half of the husband-and-wife comedy duo Stiller and Meara to his Emmy-nominated role as Frank Costanza on Seinfeld, Jerry Stiller has been a major comedy force for years. But Stiller went outside the box when he guest starred on two episodes of Law & Order. First, in 1992, he played a lawyer defending a man of fratricide in the show's second season. Stiller's second appearance, which coincided with his time on Seinfeld, saw him playing another attorney—this time a real estate lawyer who is ill-equipped to defend his cousin of murder. 

8. Janeane Garofalo

After spending the bulk of the 1990s performing stand-up, starring in romantic comedies, and working on popular comedy series like Saturday Night Live and The Larry Sanders Show, it seemed like an unusual career move when Garofalo appeared in a two-episode Law & Order arc in 1997. As a movie producer in the show’s seventh season, she gets entangled in an investigation when the head of a major film studio is found decapitated.

9. J.B. Smoove

In the early days of his career, comedy was an after-hours thing for J.B. Smoove, who would perform in various clubs after work. Eventually he managed to attract the attention of some major network players and ended up writing for, and occasionally appearing on, shows like Saturday Night Live and Def Comedy Jam. Like a rite of passage for most New York actors, Smoove also guest starred on an episode of Law & Order playing the "criminal of the week" in 1998. 

10. Jason Jones

One year before his wife and fellow The Daily Show correspondent Samantha Bee made her Law & Order debut, Jason Jones guest starred in two episodes of the show in 2009. Playing Len Pewls, an unsavory reporter, he first shows up in the episode "Promote This!" as the host of a talk show whose special episode on illegal immigration is seen on an iPhone by a group of jurors, which creates issues for the D.A. Jones showed up again a few months later as the same character, who is this time covering the story of a jewelry shop owner who killed a couple of would-be burglars.

11. Susie Essman

Susie Essman is probably most recognizable as the wife of Larry David’s manager Jeff on Curb Your Enthusiasm. But she’s been working as a stand-up comedian for more than 30 years. And over the past two decades, she has shown up on two episodes of Law & Order, plus additional guest spots on Criminal Intent and Special Victims Unit. She first appeared in 1997, but her second appearance on the show in 2004 had her playing a member of New Jersey’s Organized Crime Task Force who gives Detectives Briscoe and Green the information they need to solve a murder that occurred at a popular mobster restaurant. 

12. Tony Hale

People started taking notice of Hale when he starred as the dim-witted Buster Bluth on Arrested Development. However, during Law & Order’s final season, Hale went the dramatic route to portray a desperate father willing to do anything to bring his daughter back into the country, after her mother moves her to Brazil.

13. Candice Bergen

The daughter of a famed ventriloquist, Candice Bergen stated that because of her good looks she never thought comedy was a possibility, even though she felt most at home in the genre. It wasn’t until she landed the title role in the series Murphy Brown—and won five Emmy Awards and two Golden Globes for her work on the show—that Bergen was able to really come into her own. At the same time she was perfecting her comedic timing on shows like Sex and the City, Bergen decided to book a spot on the legendary NBC crime show in 2004, playing a judge presiding over a murder case who ends up having her life threatened. Bergen must have enjoyed her time on the Law & Order set, as she returned a year later to play the same character on a handful of episodes of Law & Order: Trial by Jury.

14. Lewis Black

Though most people recognize Black as a seasoned comedy veteran, it wasn’t until the late 1980s that he began performing stand-up. Black actually began his career as a playwright, then segued into acting, where one of his earliest roles was as a porn director with ties to a young actress who dies from an overdose. 

15. Donnell Rawlings

Often recognized for his work on Chappelle’s Show, Rawlings hadn't always wanted to go into comedy; he had served in the military and planned on becoming a police officer. But one night, while at a comedy club after work, he began heckling a comedian, and was dared to come up onstage. He never looked back. Rawlings began fine-tuning his natural ability at open mic nights, but eventually decided he wanted to focus on acting. While taking classes in New York, he booked a 1998 episode of Law & Order; it was his first on-screen credit.

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The Dark Crystal Is Coming Back to Theaters
The Jim Henson Company
The Jim Henson Company

In 1982, Jim Henson and Frank Oz dared to venture into somewhat gloomier territory with the release of The Dark Crystal. Though the film, which centers on two Gelflings (a sort of creepy elf-like creature) attempting to save their species and restore peace to the world, wasn’t a huge hit at the box office, it has developed a large cult following in the more than 35 years since its release—even among those kids it scared the hell out of back in the day. Now, as Netflix preps its prequel series, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, for release later this year, Nerdist reports that the original film will make its way back into theaters next month.

As part of Fathom Events’s ongoing effort to breathe big-screen life back into classic films with limited releases across the country, The Dark Crystal will be playing in more than 500 theaters nationwide on February 25 and February 28. In addition to the original film, the screenings will also feature a brand-new introduction courtesy of Lisa Henson, Jim’s daughter and current president/CEO of The Jim Henson Company, who will talk about the making of the film and how it fit within her father's creative legacy.

To find out whether The Dark Crystal will be coming back to a theater near you, log onto Fathom’s web page for the movie and type in your ZIP code; tickets are on sale now.

[h/t: Nerdist]

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15 Things You Didn't Know About Betty White
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Frederick M. Brown, Getty Images

Happy birthday, Betty White! In honor of the ever-sassy star of The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Golden Girls's 96th birthday, let's celebrate with a collection of fun facts about her life and legacy. 

1. HER NAME IS BETTY, NOT ELIZABETH

On January 17th, 1922, in Oak Park, Illinois, the future television icon was born Betty Marion White, the only child of homemaker Christine Tess (née Cachikis) and lighting company executive Horace Logan White. In her autobiography If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won't), White explained her parents named her "Betty" specifically because they didn't like many of the nicknames derived from "Elizabeth." Forget your Beths, your Lizas, your Ellies. She's Betty.

2. SHE'S A GUINNESS WORLD RECORD HOLDER.

In the 2014 edition of the record-keeping tome, White was awarded the title of Longest TV Career for an Entertainer (Female) for her more than 70 years (and counting) in show business. The year before, Guinness gave out Longest TV Career for an Entertainer (Male) to long-time British TV host Bruce Forsyth. As both began their careers in 1939, they'd be neck-and-neck for the title, were they not separated by gender.

3. HER FIRST TELEVISION APPEARANCE IS LOST TO HISTORY.

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Even White can't remember the name of the show she made her screen debut on in 1939. But in an interview with Guinness Book of World Records, she recounted the life-changing event, saying, "I danced on an experimental TV show, the first on the west coast, in downtown Los Angeles. I wore my high school graduation dress and our Beverly Hills High student body president, Harry Bennett, and I danced the 'Merry Widow Waltz.'" 

4. WHITE'S RISE TO STARDOM WAS DERAILED BY WORLD WAR II.

Before she took off on television, White was working in theater, on radio, and as a model. But with WWII, she shelved her ambitions and joined the American Women's Voluntary Services. Her days were devoted to delivering supplies via PX truck throughout the Hollywood Hills, but her nights were spent at rousing dances thrown to give grand send-offs to soldiers set to ship out. Of that era, she told Cleveland Magazine, "It was a strange time and out of balance with everything." 

5. HER FIRST SITCOM HIT WAS IN THE EARLY 1950S.

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Co-hosting the Al Jarvis show Hollywood on Television led to White producing her own vehicle, Life With Elizabeth. As a rare female producer, she developed the show alongside emerging writer-producer George Tibbles, who'd go on to work on such beloved shows as Dennis The Menace, Leave It To Beaver, and The Munsters. Though the show is not remembered much today, in 1951 it did earn White her first Emmy nomination of 21 (so far). Of these, she's won five times.

6. WHITE LOVES A PARADE.

From 1962 to 1971, White hosted NBC's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade alongside Bonanza's Lorne Greene. But that's not all. For 20 years (1956-1976), she was also a color commentator for NBC’s annual Tournament of Roses Parade. However, as her fame grew on CBS's The Mary Tyler Moore Show, NBC decided they should pull White (and all the rival promotion that came with her) from their parade. It was a decision that was heartbreaking for White, who told People, "On New Year's Day I just sat home feeling wretched, watching someone else do my parade."

7. SHE HAS BEEN MARRIED THREE TIMES.


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White and her first husband, Dick Barker, were married and divorced in the same year, 1945. After four months on Barker's rural Ohio chicken farm, White fled back to Los Angeles and her career as an entertainer. Soon after, she met agent Lane Allen, who became her husband in 1947, and her ex-husband in 1949 after he pushed her to quit show biz. She wouldn’t marry again until 1963, after she fell for widower/father of three/game show host Allen Ludden.

8. HER MEET-CUTE WITH HUSBAND #3 HAPPENED ON PASSWORD.

Bubbly Betty was a regular on the game show circuit, but she met her match in 1961 when she was a celebrity guest on Password, hosted by Allen Ludden. Though White initially rebuffed Ludden's engagement ring (he wore it around his neck until she changed her mind), the pair stayed together until his death in 1981. Today, their stars on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame sit side-by-side.

9. WHITE ORIGINALLY AUDITIONED FOR THE ROLE OF BLANCHE ON THE GOLDEN GIRLS.

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Producers of the series thought of White for the role of the ensemble's promiscuous party girl because she'd long played the lusty Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Meanwhile, they eyed Rue McClanahan for the part of naive country bumpkin Rose Nylund because of her work as the sweet but dopey Vivian Harmon on Maude. Director Jay Sandrich was worried about typecasting, so he asked the two to switch roles in the audition. And just like that, The Golden Girls history was made.

10. IF SHE HADN'T BEEN AN ACTOR, SHE'D HAVE BEEN A ZOOKEEPER.

"Hands down," she confessed in a 2014 interview. This should come as little surprise to those aware of White's reputation as an avid animal lover and activist. Not only does she try to visit the local zoo of wherever she may travel, but also she's a supporter of the Farm Animal Reform Movement and Friends of Animals group, as well as a Los Angeles Zoo board member, who has donated "tens of thousands of dollars" over the past 40 years. In 2010, White founded a T-shirt line whose profits go to the Morris Animal Foundation.

11. SHE DIDN'T DO AS GOOD AS IT GETS BECAUSE OF AN ANIMAL CRUELTY SCENE.

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White was offered the part of Beverly Connelly, onscreen mother to Helen Hunt, in the Oscar-winning movie As Good as It Gets. But the devoted animal lover was horrified by the scene where Jack Nicholson's curmudgeonly anti-hero pitches a small dog down the trash chute of his apartment building. On The Joy Behar Show White explained, "All I could think of was all the people out there watching that movie … and if there's a dog in the building that's barking or they don't like—boom! They do it." She complained to director James L. Brooks in hopes of having the scene cut. Instead, he kept it and cast Shirley Knight in the role.

12. A FACEBOOK CAMPAIGN MADE WHITE THE OLDEST SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE HOST EVER.

In 2010, a Facebook group called Betty White To Host SNL … Please? gathered so many fans (nearly a million) and so much media attention that SNL executive producer Lorne Michaels was happy to make it happen. At 88 years old, White set a new record. Her episode, for which many of the show's female alums returned, also won rave reviews, and gave the show's highest ratings in 18 months. White won her fifth Emmy for this performance.

13. SHE IS THE OLDEST PERSON TO EARN AN EMMY NOMINATION.


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In 2014, White earned her 21st Emmy nod—and her third in a row for Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program—for the senior citizen-centric prank show Betty White's Off Their Rockers. She was 92. She also holds the record for the longest span between Emmy nominations, between her first (1951) and last (so far).  

14. SHE LOVES JUNK FOOD.

The key to aging gracefully has nothing to do with health food as far as White is concerned. In 2011, her Hot in Cleveland co-star Jane Leeves dished on White's snacking habits, "She eats Red Vines, hot dogs, French fries, and Diet Coke. If that's key, maybe she's preserved because of all the preservatives." Fellow co-star Wendie Malick concurred, "She eats red licorice, like, ridiculously a lot. She seems to exist on hot dogs and French fries." 

15. SHE WANTS ROBERT REDFORD.

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White once gave this cheeky confession: “My answer to anything under the sun, like ‘What have you not done in the business that you’ve always wanted to do?’ is ‘Robert Redford.'” Though she has more than 110 film and television credits on her filmography, White has never worked with the Out of Africa star, who is 14 years her junior.

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