Charles Grodin (born April 21, 1935) is an American actor, comedian, author and former cable talk show host. Grodin was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Orthodox Jewish parents Lena, who worked as an assistant in the family`s store and was a volunteer for disabled veterans, and Theodore Grodin, who sold wholesale supplies. His maternal grandfather was a Russian Jewish immigrant who came from a long line of Rabbis and moved to Pittsburgh at the turn of the 20th century. Grodin has an older brother, Jack. Grodin attended the University of Miami, but did not graduate. His first acting role was in a 1962 Broadway production of Tchin-Tchin. He made his film debut in an uncredited role for Disney`s 1954 film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. In 1965, he began working as an assistant to director Gene Saks.
After having a supporting role in 1970`s comedy, Catch-22, Grodin was cast in the lead role of the film The Heartbreak Kid, which was released in 1972 and gained Grodin recognition as a comedy actor. He subsequently appeared in several notable 1970s films, including 11 Harrowhouse (1974), and the 1976 version of King Kong and the hit 1978 comedy, Heaven Can Wait. During this period, he frequently appeared on Broadway, and was also involved in producing several plays, including Thieves, which he also directed. In 1977, Grodin hosted an episode of the NBC sketch show, Saturday Night Live. He and the writers decided beforehand to play the show as if he had missed dress rehearsals and was clumsily ad-libbing his way through his sketches. Much like Andy Kaufman`s appearance on Fridays four years later, his comic scenario was taken a bit too literally by the audience, and he was never asked to host again. In 1981, he landed in a role in The Great Muppet Caper playing Nicky Holiday, a jewel thief who comically falls in love with Miss Piggy. His 1980s roles included Neil Simon`s Seems Like Old Times, opposite Chevy Chase and Goldie Hawn, and 1988`s well-reviewed comedy, Midnight Run, a buddy movie co-starring Robert De Niro. Grodin also appeared in the 1986 CBS mini-series sendup Fresno, playing the evil son of a raisin matriarch, played by Carol Burnett.
Grodin has a daughter, Marion, from his first marriage, to Julie Ferguson. They later divorced. He married Elissa Durwood in 1985 and has a son from the marriage, Nicky (born 1988). He is the son-in-law of the late Stanley Durwood, founder and former chairman of AMC Theatres. Charles is now working with an autistic boy named Alex Fischetti to whom he has been a mentor and is helping him write a book. Grodin usually adopts a faux antagonistic attitude during his semi-regular appearances on the Late Show with David Letterman. Seemingly miffed or angry, his act is strictly tongue-in-cheek as he lobs verbal attacks at the host. In 2006, Grodin received the William Kunstler Award for Racial Justice. Grodin currently lives in Wilton, Connecticut.