This Day in History (July 16)

Jul 16, 1967: Funnyman Will Ferrell born

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History.com

On this day in 1967,the actor and comedian Will Ferrell is born in Irvine, California. After rising to fame on TV’s Saturday Night Live, Ferrell starred in a string of big-screen comedies, including Old School and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.

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Ferrell graduated from the University of Southern California in 1990 and went on to join The Groundlings, an improvisational comedy group whose members have included Phil Hartman, Jon Lovitz and Lisa Kudrow. In 1995, Ferrell became a cast member of Saturday Night Live (SNL). Over the course of his seven seasons with the show, he became known for his impersonations of such celebrities as President George W. Bush, game show host Alex Trebek and Inside the Actors Studio host James Lipton. Ferrell also became known for the fictional characters he created, including cowbell player Gene Frenkle of Blue Oyster Cult, cheerleader Craig Buchanan and dense nightclubber Steve Butabi.

In 1998, Ferrell reprised the Butabi character for the feature-length movie A Night at the Roxbury, which co-starred his SNL castmates Chris Kattan and Molly Shannon. The following year, Ferrell and Shannon appeared together in another SNL sketch movie spin-off, Superstar, about the nerdy Catholic schoolgirl Mary Katherine Gallagher (played by Shannon). During his years at SNL, Ferrell also had supporting roles in movie comedies like Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1995), Zoolander (2001) and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001).

In 2003, Ferrell starred in the box-office hits Elf, about a human raised by Santa’s elves, and Old School, about three men in their 30s who try to relive their college days by starting their own fraternity. Ferrell, along with his Old School co-stars Luke Wilson and Vince Vaughn, came to be known in the media as members of the so-called “Frat Pack,” a group of male Hollywood actors who appeared together in comedies in the late 1990s and 2000s. Jack Black, Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller were also considered members of the group.

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In recent years, Ferrell has starred in several sports-themed comedies, including 2006’s Talladega Nights, about auto racing; 2007’s Blades of Glory, about figure skating; and 2008’s Semi-Pro, about basketball.

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