Adam Richard Sandler is an American comedian, actor, musician, screenwriter and film producer. After becoming a Saturday Night Live cast member, he went on to star in several Hollywood feature films that grossed over US$100 million at the box office.
Though he is best known for his comedic roles, such as in the films Billy Madison (1995), Happy Gilmore (1996), Big Daddy (1999) and Mr. Deeds (2002), he has also had success in romantic and dramatic roles, such as in the films, The Wedding Singer (1998), Punch-Drunk Love (2002), Spanglish (2004), and Reign Over Me (2007).
Adam Sandler was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Judy, a nursery school teacher, and Stanley Sandler, an electrical engineer. Sandler is Jewish. When he was five, his family moved to Manchester, New Hampshire, where he attended Manchester Central High School. He found he was a natural comic, and nurtured his talent while at New York University by performing regularly in clubs and on campuses. He graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1991.
Later, in his career, he would often draw on his earliest memories for material for his comedy and movies. The song “Lunchlady Land” is dedicated to Emalee, the lunchlady at Hayden Dining Hall at New York University. In the movie Click, Sandler goes to Lake Winnipesaukee, the largest lake in New Hampshire, where he went to summer camp.
In the mid to late 1980s, Sandler played Theo Huxtable’s friend, Smitty, on The Cosby Show (1987–1988). He was a performer for the MTV game show Remote Control, on which he made appearances as the characters “Trivia Delinquent” or “Stud Boy”. Early in his career, Sandler performed in comedy clubs, taking the stage at his brother’s urging when he was only 17. He was discovered by comedian Dennis Miller, who caught Sandler’s act in Los Angeles.
Miller recommended him to Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels. Sandler was hired as a writer for SNL in 1990 and became a featured player the following year, making a name for himself by performing amusing original songs on the show, including “The Chanukah Song”. He left the show in 1995 to focus on his film career.
Sandler’s first starring role was in 1989, in the film Going Overboard. In 1995, he starred in Billy Madison, in which he plays a grown, though uneducated, man repeating grades 1–12 to earn back his father’s respect, along with the right to inherit his father’s multi-million-dollar hotel empire.
He followed this film with other financially successful comedies such as Bulletproof (1996), Happy Gilmore (1996) and The Wedding Singer (1998). He was initially cast in the bachelor-party-themed comedy/thriller Very Bad Things (1998), but had to back out due to his involvement in The Waterboy (1998), one of his first hits.
Although his earlier films did not receive critical praise, his more recent films, beginning with Punch-Drunk Love (2002), have received almost uniformly positive reviews. Some critics concluded that Sandler possessed considerably more acting ability that they believed had been previously wasted on poorly written scripts and characters with no development.
Audiences have remained faithful to Sandler’s slapstick humour to the tune of US$100-million-plus grossing movies. Sandler has moved outside the genre of goofball humour to take on more serious parts such as the aforementioned Punch-Drunk Love (for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe), Spanglish (2004) and Reign Over Me (2007).
He played a loving father figure in Big Daddy (1999). During filming, he met Jacqueline Samantha Titone — his future wife and mother of his daughter — who was cast as the waitress from The Blarney Stone Bar.
At one point, Sandler was considered for the part that went to Jamie Foxx in Collateral (2004). He also was one of the finalists along with Jim Carrey and Johnny Depp for the role of Willy Wonka in Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005). He returned to more dramatic fare with Mike Binder’s Reign Over Me (2007), a drama about a man who loses his entire family in 9/11 and rekindles a friendship with his old college roommate (played by Don Cheadle).
He starred in the film I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry (2007) alongside Kevin James, as a New York City fireman pretending to be gay to keep up an insurance scam so that his best friend’s children can have benefits. Sandler headlined You Don’t Mess with the Zohan (2008), a comedy about a Mossad agent who fakes his own death and moves to the United States to become a hair stylist.
The film was written by Sandler, The 40-Year-Old Virgin writer-director Judd Apatow (who was an old roommate of Sandler’s when both were starting out), and Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog creator Robert Smigel, and was directed by Happy Gilmore director Dennis Dugan.
Sandler starred in Bedtime Stories (2008), a fantasy film directed by Bringing Down the House director Adam Shankman, about a stressed real estate developer whose bedtime stories he reads to his niece and nephew begin to come true. This marked Sandler’s first family film and first film under the Walt Disney banner. Keri Russell and English comedian Russell Brand co-starred.
At one point, Sandler was in talks to star in Quentin Tarantino’s World War II film Inglourious Basterds, which he confirmed, but he said he will not be in it due to a scheduling conflict with Funny People. In June 2007, it was announced that his production company, Happy Madison, had made a preemptive acquisition for Mitch Albom’s screen-writing debut.
On June 22, 2003, Sandler married actress Jacqueline Samantha Titone, and they are the parents of two daughters, Sadie Madison Sandler, born May 6, 2006, at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, and Sunny Madeline Sandler, born November 2, 2008. Sandler lives with his family in Los Angeles, though he also has a home in New York.
In 2007, Sandler made a million-dollar donation to the Boys and Girls Club in his hometown, Manchester, NH. He also donated $2100 to the primary campaign of Rudy Giuliani the same year.