Larry grew up in a Jewish Housing section in Sheepshead Bay. He went to Elementary school at PS 194 Raoul Wallenberg and Shell Bank Middle School.
Larry would eventually become one of the most successful comedians in the world, but while an adolescent he was
considered "obnoxious" to his older brother Ken's friends who were annoyed by his grating personality and behavior.
He was not a class clown, but did like doing impressions at home for his family, even if they were a tough crowd.
Larry's house was a hub of family activity with his siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents always around. He recalls it was always "raucous. Ruckus and raucous. My aunt lived next door, and we were very friendly with the other neighbors across the hall, so there were three apartments in arm's length of each other, and people constantly coming in, in and out, fighting, screaming. I had an uncle and my grandmother upstairs, and another cousin upstairs and two more cousins and my aunt and uncle next door, and I just remember it as being very busy, and a lot of yelling. My parents fighting, my father fighting with my brother, my mother fighting with my brother, I'm fighting with my mother, my mother's fighting with our sister, I'm fighting with my cousin, there's all kinds of fights going on, and yelling, and also, everybody knew your business."
The lack of privacy irked him, "you would do something during the day, and then all of a sudden, during dinner, my aunt would come in and say, 'so, Larry, I hear you have a date.' 'How would you know something like that?' 'Larry, I heard you talking to Stella's daughter." Everybody knew everything. It was very smothering."
Larry loved baseball and was one of the biggest Yankees fans in the world. He collected baseball cards and was constantly memorizing the statistics on the back of the cards and in the newspapers so he could banter about who were the best players with his friends.
Unfortunately, Larry's love of baseball did not carry over to actual athletic talent. Larry, however, disputes this claim, saying he was good at basketball. In reality, he was as uncoordinated and awkward as a foal with three legs; he never played sports in middle or high school. This physical dyslexia, however, would serve him well as a comedian.
Larry had an early stint with performing comedy in the eighth grade. He played a woman and was quite a hit, however, he quit for ten years after an incident in summer camp. "Once I auditioned for something and a kid called me a faggot, and that kind of registered with me: 'Oh, is that what I'm going to have to put up with if I do this? Because I'm not going to be able to handle that.' One 'faggot,' and I was done! Profiles in courage."
Larry was never particularly skilled with girls either. His unrefined comedy didn't win them over, which may have led to a lot of lonely nights spent with adult magazines.
One would think Larry was addicted to self-pleasure during his teenage years given the recurrence of this theme throughout his career. His first long monologue in his early 20s was actually about the dynamics of it.
It's logical to think that at this time it wasn't a very funny topic for Larry's mother.
Of course, years later his obsession would facilitate his greatest writing achievement: "The Master of My Domain" Seinfeld episode which earned him an Emmy Award for writing, and ironically turned his greatest shame into his crowning achievement.
What were the odds that Larry would turn a fascination with a sexual dysfunction into comedy gold?
Summer Camp, Larry Meets Richard Lewis: 1960
Young Larry David met young Richard Lewis at summer camp circa 1960 when they were both about 13 years old. They despised each other at first, despite sharing working class Jewish parents, Brooklyn roots, and the same birth year. It would take years for them to become friends on the stand-up comedy circuit.
High School and College: 1962-1970, A Funny Jew from Brooklyn
Larry went to Sheepshead Bay High School and graduated in 1966. He attended college at the University of Maryland from 1966 to 1970, where he studied History and Business earning B.A.s in both.
It was in college where he claims the stand-up comedian seed was first planted. He tended to go on horror dates and loved to make his buddies laugh when he got back to the dorms.
It was these interactions, the camaraderie and laughs that he was trying to recreate when he later performed stand-up comedy.
In fact, Larry did not consider himself to be a funny person while he was a child. It took him going away to college and making new friends for him to think and feel he was funny.
Once in a new environment, he was able to see himself from an outside and unique perspective - instead of just being another funny Jew from the neighborhood he was now the only funny Jew from Brooklyn.
He would use self deprecating humor to great effect. Whether true or not, he was able to expertly turn himself into a clownish character for his friends' amusement.
He claims he was an unbelievable loser, especially with women. But being rather bright he was able to laugh about it and share that laughter with friends.
Larry loved the comedy acts of Bob and Ray, Mel Brooks, Abbott and Costello, Phil Silvers, and Woody Allen among others, but he never tried to be anyone but himself comically.
As far as fitting in with the times, Larry says, "I was not going to wear bell-bottoms, I knew that. And my Jewfro could only go to a certain length, and after that, it was a problem. And I couldn't do hippie talk, I couldn't adapt to the lingo, I had very difficult time with the lingo. 'Man...' It just wouldn't come out of my mouth, I couldn't bring myself to use those words. I was too uptight to say 'uptight.' "
He did experiment with marijuana, but never got really into it.
Larry lost his virginity when he was 20 years old and while in college. Although he doesn't recount the exact experience, it's impossible to picture it going well. Larry most likely had to be drunk to mitigate his inhibitions, wear three condoms to overcome his germophobia, and share familial and DNA history to make sure his partner and he shared long term compatibility just in case there was a malfunction.
Larry graduated from college in 1970 while the Vietnam War was still being waged. Not wanting to get drafted or enlist as an officer, Larry signed up for the National Guard.
The National Guard: Early 1970s, A True Patriot
Larry jokes about his time in the Guard:
I couldn't be happier that President Bush has stood up for having served in the National Guard because I can finally put an end to all those who questioned my motives for enlisting in the Army Reserve at the height of the Vietnam War.
I can't tell you how many people thought I had signed up just to avoid going to Vietnam. Nothing could be further from the truth. If anything, I was itching to go over there. I was just out of college and, let's face it, you can't buy that kind of adventure.
More important, I wanted to do my part in saving that tiny country from the scourge of Communism. We had to draw the line somewhere, and if not me, then who? But I also knew that our country was being torn asunder by opposition to the war.
Who would be here to defend the homeland against civil unrest? Or what if some national emergency should arise? We needed well-trained men on the ready to deal with any situation. It began to dawn on me that perhaps my country needed me more at home than overseas.
Sure, being a reservist wasn't as glamorous, but I was the one who had to look at myself in the mirror.
Even though the National Guard and Army Reserve see combat today, it rankles me that people assume it was some kind of waltz in the park back then. If only.
Once a month, for an entire weekend--I'm talking eight hours Saturday and Sunday --we would meet in a dank, cold airplane hangar.
The temperature in that hangar would sometimes get down to 40 degrees, and very often I had to put on long underwear, which was so restrictive I suffered from an acute vascular disorder for days afterward.
Our captain was a strict disciplinarian who wouldn't think twice about not letting us wear sneakers or breaking up a poker game if he was in ill humor.
Once, they took us into the woods and dropped us off with nothing but compasses and our wits. One wrong move and I could've wound up on Queens Boulevard.
Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to find my way out of there and back to the hangar. Some of my buddies did not fare as well and had to call their parents to come and get them. Then in the summer we would go away to camp for two weeks.
It felt more like three. I wondered if I'd ever see my parakeet again. We slept on cots and ate in the International House of Pancakes.
I learned the first night that IHOP's not the place to order fish. When the two weeks were up, I came
home a changed man.
I would often burst into tears for no apparent reason and suffered recurring nightmares about drowning in blueberry syrup.
If I hadn't been so strapped for cash, I would've sought the aid of a psychiatrist.
In those days, reserve duty lasted for six years, which, I might add, was three times as long as service in the regular army, although to be perfectly honest, I was unable to fulfill my entire obligation because I was taking acting classes and they said I could skip my last year.
I'll always be eternally grateful to the Pentagon for allowing me to pursue my dreams. Still, after all this time, whenever I've mentioned my service in the Reserve during Vietnam, it's been met with sneers and derision.
But now, thanks to President Bush, I can stand-up proudly alongside him and all the other guys who guarded the home front. Finally, we no longer have to be embarrassed about our contribution during those very trying years.
During the early 1970s and while serving weekend duty for the Guard,
Larry worked at various jobs to get by: private chauffer, taxi driver, bra salesman, and paralegal, among others.
Struggling: Early 1970s and Homeless Anxiety
During a stint in 1972, Larry was going through a particularly rough time. He was unemployed, living with his parents, girlfriend-less and broke.
It was at this time he wandered around the streets of New York looking for a place to live if he became homeless.
During this difficult time, his mother would ask him how he was doing. He felt he couldn't be honest about his depression because it would stress her out. So he came up with one of his key catchphrases, "pretty, pretty, pretty good."
It was in some ways for Larry David the making of Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm: a key ingredient at turning a situation inside out and then laughing at it.
He was taking the acting class at night while he was working at his various jobs and trying to find himself. One night, he had to perform as himself and while doing so he got everybody to laugh.
That was when he first decided to try stand-up comedy. He quit acting class and asked a buddy from college who was already performing for advice.
Larry was afraid he might chicken out, so he told everyone he knew he was going into stand-up as extra motivation.
Larry's first night of performing stand-up at Folk City in Greenwich Village came in 1974. It was an open mic night, a hoot 'nanny.
Despite not doing well, he felt like he was on the right track so continued on the path.
The second time he performed was at a bowling alley in Brooklyn, and third time was at the famous comedy club To Catch A Rising Star, where he felt like he fit in and eventually became a regular.
Stand up Comedian: 1974, "Catch"
To Catch A Rising Star was home to many comedians that would later go on to legendary status such as Richard Pryor, David Letterman, Bob Saget, Robert Wuhl, George Carlin, Billy Crystal, Robin Williams, Jon Stewart, Bill Maher, Jerry Seinfeld, Rosie O'Donnell, Ellen DeGeneres, Robert Klein, Gabe Kaplan, Freddie Prinze, Shelley Ackerman, David Brenner, Andy Kaufman, Chris Rush, Ray Romano, Richard Belzer, Jim Carrey, John Kerwin, Steven Wright, Elayne Boosler, Eddie Murphy, Rodney Dangerfield, Dave Chappelle,
Jo Koy, Richard Lewis, Kevin James, Chris Rock, Garry Shandling, Kathy Griffin, Denis Leary, Tim Allen, Whoopi Goldberg, Colin Quinn, and Dennis Miller among others.
Despite Larry feeling comfort at To Catch A Rising Star, he still had anxiety about performing in general and especially for live audiences.
He has said:
I had this dream once where I was in a big house… I heard a lot of shooting and gunfire downstairs. So I get up in my underwear and go downstairs where there's a war going on. I duck behind a couch and ask a uniformed soldier 'what the hell's going on here?' Then all of the sudden another soldier comes up to me and shoves a gun to my head. He says 'get up and do a set.'
There was a little stage area off to the side with a microphone. I go 'what are you crazy? There's a war going on here! I can't get up there!' He shoves the gun against my head again, 'get up and do a set!'
Larry's act at the time was eclectic, and he liked to begin with by saying, "I'll tell you something about good looking people. We're not well liked!"
If the audience didn't laugh, he knew it was going to be a rough night.
In his stand-up routine, he joked about his personal life, especially women, as well as made silly jokes, social observations, and topical humor.
Hell's Kitchen: Mid 1970s
During the mid-1970s as Larry performed stand-up comedy and worked odd jobs, he moved into a federally subsidized housing project called Manhattan Plaza.
Only performing artists were allowed to live in the building. They paid $72 a month while the government picked up the rest of the tab.
Without such a housing program, the world might never have known the show Seinfeld and its crazy characters because perfecting a comedic perspective takes valuable time that a full time job would likely prohibit.
It was in Manhattan Plaza that Larry met and was next door neighbors with Kenny "Cosmo" Kramer.
Kramer was a community organizer in the building and was putting together a show and mixer for the residents one night. He heard from several people that Larry was very funny, even if a little different.
So Kramer recruited him for the show and it was a success. Larry and Kramer went to lunch the next day, were fast friends, and have been buddies ever since.
In 1976 Larry met Jerry Seinfeld at Catch And the two hit it off instantly.
It's hard to picture such a magical moment without thinking of clouds parting, rainbows blossoming, and pegasi gliding.
It would be over ten years later when the two collaborated to create Seinfeld, but if destiny does exist it was in full force
on that fateful evening.
Among other things, the two shared Brooklyn roots, Jewish heritage, and a
love for joking about the tiny details, irritations, and riddles of life.
In 1979, Larry became impotent for two months, so seriously thought about killing himself.
Luckily, he didn't because he was about to get his first big break.
Fridays: 1979-1982, A Lucky Break
Larry had become tight with fellow stand-up Richard Lewis through the circuit in New York.
Among the few New York comedy clubs, To Catch A Rising Star was a more popular one and a launching pad to TV and film for comedians. Larry eventually got noticed for his offbeat, intelligent style and was pegged for a new show on ABC called Fridays.
Not aiming for any subtlety, the show was a direct knock off of Saturday Night Live, only it aired on Friday.
Larry moved to Los Angeles where the show was taped and was finally making good money for performing comedy.
The show wasn't very critically acclaimed, but it was on a major network and earned the actors lots of notoriety.
Larry tells a story in which he first moved to L.A. and decided to treat himself with a new convertible.
Fresh off the lot, he's driving down the street and feeling like hot stuff when a sexy girl notices him and his bald head and Krusty the clown hair billowing in the wind.
Didn't think that one all the way through, he jokes.
Larry met Michael Richards on Fridays and the two were able to form some comedic chemistry which would later serve them well.
Fridays was only on the air for two years, and ended rather abruptly after Andy Kaufman incited an on air, live stir by pretending to break character in the middle of a skit and cause a giant fight.
Saturday Night Live: 1984-1985
After Fridays ended, Larry moved back to New York and back into his old apartment across the hall from Kenny Kramer.
He kept performing stand-up comedy at To Catch A Rising Star, but now because of his resume was able to get small jobs writing and performing comedy.
He had small parts in two independent films in 1983 called Second Thoughts and Can She Bake a Cherry Pie?
Then in 1984 Larry got a job at Saturday Night Live as a writer and extra performer. Unfortunately, the producer who hired Larry was fired just before he started working on the show.
And the new executive producer, Dick Ebersol, thought Larry's act was tacky and humorless.
So as the weeks went by and all of Larry's ideas were summarily rejected, Larry's frustration grew.
Eventually, it exploded into the now infamous incident in which
Larry goes ape sh*! just before a show is about to go live in 1985. He calls Ebersol a no good f#&@, tells him to go screw himself, and screams I quit before storming out.
Larry ended up visiting Kramer to cool down. After realizing he just threw away a good salary, he started to freak out and asked Kramer for advice.
Of course, Kramer casually suggested Larry simply show up on Monday like nothing happened and resume work.
Larry did and the rest is history. History... and a Seinfeld episode called The Revenge in which George does the exact same thing.
Art imitating life at its best, which in some ways is the most fitting description of Larry's career.
After the season wrapped, Larry moved on from SNL.
Two Steps Forward, One Step Back: Mid 1980s
After leaving SNL, Larry went back to stand-up comedy to keep his wit and writing sharp, and look for his next gig.
It would take years for him to get even close to center court again, and in the meantime he did small jobs to get by.
He got small roles in two Woody Allen films, Radio Days (1987) and New York Stories (1989).
He wrote a little known TV movie called
Norman's Corner in 1987 and is credited with writing for one episode of The Gary Shandling Show in 1987 as well.
To supplement his income he continued to drive a Taxi at night.
Stand Up, The Seinfeld Chronicles, and Seinfeld: 1989-1996
The story goes that one night while at performing and hanging at Catch, Jerry asked Larry if he wanted to help him write a pilot for a show NBC had commissioned.
They walked into Lee's Korean store across the street and joked about the peculiar items as was their custom. Larry suggested this should be the show: nothing.
Jerry wondered if he picked the right writer to help him out.
Initially, Larry and Jerry wrote a pilot called Stand up which was going to be about the two of them and how they got material for their acts. Then it would show Jerry performing their new material and the audience would get to see how they reached the performance destination.
In a sense, it's what Seinfeld truly was: two stand-up comedians writing their observational comedy and personal humor into situations and storylines. Because they were both from New York, single, Jewish, and silly, they spoke the same language and were able to spin their musings into fine comedy-silk.
Seinfeld eventually became one of the most iconic and successful TV shows in history. It appears it will stand the test of time like classics such as The Three Stooges, I Love Lucy, and Cheers.
Larry claims to have worked on 134 episodes, although IMDB gives him credit for 174.
Seinfeld's 9.4 rating on IMDB dwarfs that of 1990s sitcom competitors Friends, 9.0, and Everybody Loves Raymond, 7.3.
It was truly the number one sitcom, and a key cultural mirror, disseminator, and aggregator during its run from 1989 to 1998.
two Emmy awards in 1993 for Seinfeld, as well as a Golden Globe in 1994. He also married Laurie Lennard in 1993; they went on to have two daughters together, Cazzie and Romy, born in 1994 and 1996 respectively. Larry left Seinfeld in 1996 due to a combination of burning out creatively, wanting to explore other creative avenues, and to spend time with his baby daughters and wife.
Larry, Richard, Sobriety and Controversy: 1993
In 1993 Larry was asked by Richard Lewis for a million dollars. Richard was trying to escape his circumstances and felt if he had enough money he could move, start over, get his comedy together and eventually pay Larry back.
Larry was probably torn because he didn't know if Richard would use and drink without the money or if he would use and drink because of the money. For the friend of an addict, alcoholic the fine line between support and enabler is a nearly impossible one.
Larry's team didn't think it was a good idea, so Larry told Richard no.
These days, the tiff is behind them. They nevertheless continue to debate and joke about whether Richard actually verbalized the promise to pay Larry back. Richard says he did. Larry says he didn't. But doesn't every friendship need two sides?
Sour Moves and Sour Grapes: 1996-1998
Although Larry will never admit it, he partially left Seinfeld to take on the challenge of conquering the movie business.
He conceived of a movie called Sour Grapes: Richie Maxwell is down to his last quarter at a slot in Atlantic City, so he asks his cousin Evan for two more coins to take one more spin. The spin wins $400,000, and before long the two cousins are fighting over the money.
Larry not only wrote Sour Grapes, he directed and produced it.
When it became a horrible flop, he really had no one to blame but himself.
In the end, the film was simply ill conceived and poorly executed.
Larry's brief soiree
into the film industry ended as quickly as it started and he was left scratching his head for what to do next.
Jeff Garlin and the Making of Curb Your Enthusiasm: 1999-Present
Larry kept an office at Castle Rock Entertainment even though he wasn't sure what he wanted to do next. It may have been because his mother always told him that you need somewhere to go every day or you're basically a waste.
One day, fellow comedian Jeff Garlin came into Larry's office to chat him up. Jeff was working in a neighboring office.
Jeff asked Larry what he was going to do next and Larry told him he was thinking about doing some stand-up again since it had been nine years.
Jeff suggested Larry film it. That idea evolved into filming what happened between when Larry was performing
Larry had a few funny storyline ideas, but they didn't want to script them because it wouldn't seem real. Since they were going for a documentary style, they needed everything to appear spontaneous; they improvised it.
After filming a few times they realized they might have something. HBO was willing to let Larry try whatever he wanted because of his prior success in TV, so they ran with it.
It took a while for people to realize what the show was. It was a fictional show about a real person and starring that real person.
Without meaning to, they recreated a quasi-Seinfeld. Only Curb was single camera, shot on location, unscripted, and documentary style with no laugh tracks.
Viewers had never really seen anything quite like it. But after a few years the show really caught on. The concepts, storylines, and improv all improved as well.
Eventually, the show was recognized by the awards circuit and nominated for both Emmys and Golden Globes.
An Inconvenient Truth: 2006
Larry's wife, Laurie, produced An Inconvenient Truth in 2006 with a group of Hollywood environmentalists and Al Gore.
Larry depicts her environmentalist side in numerous Curb Your Enthusiasm episodes.
"Whatever Works" Mostly Works: 2007-2009
Woody Allen wrote the dark comedy Whatever Works in the early 1970s with Zero Mostel intended as the lead character. When Mostel passed away in 1977 the script was buried.
Around 2007, Allen decided to resurrect the script and pitched the idea to Larry David.
Given Larry's admiration for Allen, he decided to take on the role despite his lack of success in the film industry. Perhaps things would be different now that Larry was a well-known entertainer from Curb.
Larry was worried about memorizing tons of dialogue because all of his recent work was improvised, and added he's too lazy to memorize
Despite his apprehension, Whatever Works was a success, earning about $9,000,000 in theatres and double that overall.
Critics gave the film mostly positive reviews, and Larry earned kudos for his acting. It would be the first time Larry ever commercially succeeded performing someone else's writing.
For a somewhat tightly wound quasi-control freak, this was a major accomplishment.
Hopefully it will not be the last time Larry has an open mind when it comes to other people's writing. After all, he's not the only smart, funny person on the planet.
Whatever Works successfully repudiates the horror that Sour Grapes was for Larry, and recasts his filmography in a much more favorable light.
Of course, the Wheel of Fortune nary produces sustained happiness for long periods of time. Just when Larry righted his filmography his wife filed for divorce.
Speculation was rampant that she was leaving him for Al Gore, but the gossip was never substantiated.
Publically, Larry has iterated and reiterated that losing half his fortune to his ex-wife was extremely painful. He has expressed no regret whatsoever over the loss of the relationship.
He would have surely kept Laurie around even if they weren't getting along just to save the money, not to mention the tax benefits.
Moreover, Larry has joked, "the first thing I did when the divorce was finalized was turn all the lights on in the house."
These days, Larry actively dates and particularly enjoys the benefits that come with his Curb celebrity.
Hopefully, he's making up for lost time and money by scoring lots of hot, young babes.
Summer of 2009: Larry Picks Up a Hitchhiker
One summer day in 2009 whilst Larry was driving around the island of Martha's Vineyard he picked up a happy-go-lucky hitchhiker named Paul Samuel Dolman.
Most people wouldn't pick up a hitchhiker, and the probability that irritable Larry would
is next to zero.
But fate intervened to bring Larry and Paul together. Part of their conversation follows here:
Larry (leaning back as Paul gets in the car): You're not a serial killer or something are you?
Paul: Well, even if I was it's the Vineyard, and I'm on vacation. I'm not working.
Larry laughs, they shake hands, and drive off.
Larry: You know, I never pick up hitchhikers.
Paul: Not a bad commandment to live by.... Why me?
Larry: I have no idea. I just felt like I was supposed to.
They go on to talk about the meaning of life, the value of money, and belief in a higher power while trading comedic barbs.
Just how long Larry will keep the hilarious, irreverent, and ground breaking comedy going is anyone's guess.
What's Next? 2012 and Beyond
If Curb doesn't return for a ninth season, Larry's future seems unclear. Richard Lewis claims he is planning a return to stand-up, and Larry himself has said he's been working on new material for a return to the stage. As Larry's biographer, Jason Allen doubts Larry will actually return to stand-up comedy.
Larry hasn't done stand-up in front of paying audiences for 30 years. He has done routines for charities, politicians, and friends, but to actually hit the circuit again seems unlikely. Why would a guy who hated being judged by audiences subject himself to it again when he could try a spinoff or keep building his film career?
Plus, Larry's material is not really suited for stand-up. If he did give it another shot, it's more logical that it would be billed as a one man show in which Larry could exploit his expertise for storytelling and narration. The best stand-ups wind their material into pithy, well timed punch lines. Larry could probably achieve this, but it would be quite an adjustment from what he's done recently.
Larry appeared in the Farrelly Brothers' The Three Stooges movie with co-stars Sean Hayes, Will Sasso, Jane Lynch, Sophia Vergara, Jennifer Hudson, and Chris Diamantopoulos.
Currently, Larry is finishing the film Clear History which he stars in and co-wrote with Alec Berg, David Mandel, and Jeff Schaffer.
*This biography and timeline has been constructed using interviews with Larry's childhood classmates, numerous articles and media appearances, Kenny Kramer's personal accounts, deconstruction of numerous Seinfeld and Curb episodes, and other various sources. Although Larry has chosen not to participate, the veracity within cannot be questioned.
To date, this site is the most thorough and complete Larry David biography on the Internet.