Frederick Allan "Rick" Moranis (born April 18, 1953) is a Canadian actor, comedian and a two-time Grammy nominated musician. Moranis came to prominence around 1980 in the sketch comedy show Second City Television and later appeared in several Hollywood films, including Strange Brew, Ghostbusters, Spaceballs, Little Shop of Horrors, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (and its sequels), Little Giants, Parenthood, The Flintstones, and My Blue Heaven. Moranis has not appeared in a live-action film since 1997, although he has provided voice-over work for a few animated films and made appearances at fan conventions.
Moranis was born in Toronto, Ontario, to a Jewish family. He went to high school at Sir Sandford Fleming Secondary School in Toronto, Ontario. He went to elementary school with Geddy Lee, frontman of the legendary rock band Rush.
His career as an entertainer began as a radio disc jockey in the mid-1970s, using the on-air name "Rick Allan" at three Toronto radio stations.
In 1980, Moranis was persuaded to join the third-season cast of Second City Television (SCTV) by friend and SCTV writer/performer Dave Thomas. At the time, Moranis was the only cast member who had not come from a Second City stage troupe. He became famous for his impressions of Woody Allen, George Carlin and David Brinkley, among many others.
With SCTV moving to CBC in 1980 (and syndicated to the United States), Moranis and Thomas were challenged to fill two additional minutes with "identifiable Canadian content", and created a sketch called The Great White North featuring the characters Bob and Doug McKenzie. By the time NBC ordered 90-minute programs for the U.S. in 1981 (the fourth season of SCTV overall), there had been such positive feedback from affiliates on the McKenzies that the network requested that the duo have a sketch in every show.
Bob and Doug became a pop culture phenomenon, which led to a top-selling and Grammy nominated album, Great White North, and the 1983 movie Strange Brew, Moranis's first major film role.
After his SCTV work and the Strange Brew movie, Moranis had a busy career in feature films that lasted over a decade, most notably Ghostbusters, Spaceballs, and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and its sequels. He also did the voice-over for a short lived cartoon series on NBC called Gravedale High (1990).
In a 2004 interview, Moranis talked about the kinds of films he enjoyed the most:
On the last couple of movies I made--big-budget Hollywood movies--I really missed being able to create my own material. In the early movies I did, I was brought in to basically rewrite my stuff, whether it was Ghostbusters or Spaceballs. By the time I got to the point where I was "starring" in movies, and I had executives telling me what lines to say, that wasn't for me. I'm really not an actor. I'm a guy who comes out of comedy, and my impetus was always to rewrite the line to make it funnier, not to try to make somebody's precious words work.
Moranis's last big-screen film roles were The Flintstones (1994) and the box-office flop Big Bully (1996). In the former, as Barney Rubble, Rick was barely visually recognizable because he had a blonde wig and never wore his trademark glasses. Although a successful comedy, the Flintstones film was a far departure from the sci-fi comic fare he was best known for. Other than the Honey... sequels, by the mid-1990s his only appearance in that genre was a 1993 music video, Tomorrow's Girls by Donald Fagen, in which he played a man married to an extraterrestrial woman. Disney ended their Shrunk franchise in 1997 with the direct-to-video film Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves, in which Rick was the last remaining original cast member. He worked for Disney twice more (with his fellow SCTV alumnus Dave Thomas), voicing Rutt the moose in the 2003 animated film Brother Bear and its direct-to-video sequel.
Moranis was also slated to appear in The Breakfast Club, but was fired by John Hughes because his interpretation of the part was not what Hughes was looking for.
Rick officially left the film industry in 1997, six years after the 1991 loss of his wife, Ann, to breast cancer, which had metastasized to her liver. He later explained that he began to "pull out" of making movies in about 1996 or 1997. "I'm a single parent and I just found that it was too difficult to manage raising my kids and doing the traveling involved in making movies. So I took a little bit of a break. And the little bit of a break turned into a longer break, and then I found that I really didn't miss it."
Animated film work:
In 2000, Moranis received his first film credit since 1997 when he provided voice work in the animated film, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys. In 2003, he provided his voice to the animated film Brother Bear.
As of 2004, Moranis was on the Advisory Committee for the comedy program at Humber College.
In 2005, Moranis released an album titled The Agoraphobic Cowboy, featuring country songs with lyrics which Moranis says follow in the comic tradition of songwriters/singers such as Roger Miller, Kinky Friedman, and Jim Stafford. The album was produced by Tony Scherr, and is distributed through ArtistShare, as well as Moranis's official web site. Commenting on the origins of the songs, he said that in 2003, "Out of the blue, I just wrote a bunch of songs. For lack of a better explanation, they're more country than anything. And I actually demoed four or five of them, and I'm not sure at this point what I'm going to do with them--whether I'm going to fold them into a full-length video or a movie. But, boy, I had a good time doing that."
On December 8, 2005, The Agoraphobic Cowboy was announced as a nominee for the 2006 Grammy for Best Comedy Album. On February 3, 2006, Moranis performed "Press Pound" on Late Night with Conan O'Brien and discussed the development of his music career.
In 2006, Moranis reprised his role in the animated film Brother Bear 2.
In November 2007, Moranis reunited with Dave Thomas for a 24th anniversary special of Bob and Doug McKenzie, titled Bob and Doug McKenzie's 2-4 Anniversary. The duo shot new footage for this special. Thomas subsequently created a new animated Bob and Doug McKenzie series, Bob & Doug, for his company Animax Entertainment. Moranis declined to voice the role of Bob, which was taken over by Dave Coulier, but remained involved in the series as an executive producer.
In May 2013, Moranis announced that he would release a brand new comedy album titled My Mother's Brisket & Other Love Songs, his first album in eight years. The album was released on June 18, 2013. Moranis said of the release "When I first began writing jokes and sketches with various Jewish partners one of us would inevitably stop at some point and announce, "Too Jewish!" Too Jewish for the star, the show, the network, or the audience. The songs on this album are all in that category. I grew up hearing the Allan Sherman and the You Don't Have To Be Jewish albums in the 60s. Now I am in my 60s."
In June 2013, Moranis gave a rare interview where he talked about reprising his role as Louis Tully in a third Ghostbusters film and his disappointment with the sequel. Moranis said "I haven't talked to Dan Aykroyd about it. Somebody he's associated with called me and I said, 'I wouldn't not do it, but it's got to be good.' You know, I'm not interested in doing anything I've already done, and I thought the second one was a disappointment. But I guess I'm interested in where that guy is now. I sort of see him as being Bernie Madoff's cellmate in jail. Both of them being so orderly that they race to get up and make their beds."
Writer and director
Wild Life, TheThe Wild Life
Streets of Fire
Little Shop of Horrors
Lord Dark Helmet
American Comedy Award for Funniest Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids
My Blue Heaven
Honey, I Blew Up the Kid
Flintstones, TheThe Flintstones
Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys
The Toy Taker,
Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Kids
Brother Bear 2
Second City TV
Writer, Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program,
Nominated - Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program (3)
SCTV Network 90
Saturday Night Live
Season 8, Episode 10
Saturday Night Live
Season 8, Episode 11
Rocket Boy, TheThe Rocket Boy
Automatic Safety System
Saturday Night Live
Season 15, Episode 2
The Earth Day Special
Honey, I Shrunk the Audience!
Former Disney Parks in 3-D
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license