Born in Stamford, Connecticut, on October 22, 1938, Christopher Lloyd began acting as an apprentice in summer stock at age 14 and appeared in more than 200 stage productions before working in film. Lloyd made his big-screen debut in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), which won five Academy Awards, including for best picture. He also starred in the commercially successful Back to the Future films as the eccentric Dr. Emmett "Doc" Brown. One of Lloyd's more famous television roles was as "Reverend" Jim Ignatowski on the hit series Taxi.
Christopher Allen Lloyd was born in Stamford, Connecticut, on October 22, 1938, the youngest of four girls and three boys. His father, Samuel, was an attorney; his mother, Ruth, was a singer. Lloyd's maternal grandfather, Lewis Lapham, was one of the founders of the Texaco oil company.
Lloyd first pursued his love of acting by working as an apprentice in summer stock at the age of 14. By age 19, he was taking classes at New York City's Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre with renowned acting teacher Sanford Meisner. Taking advantage of the New York theater scene, Lloyd made his stage debut in a production of And They Put Handcuffs on the Flowers by Fernando Arrabal. His Broadway debut came in a production of Red, White and Maddox, which failed to attract a large audience.
Stage, Film and TV Career
Lloyd went on to work steadily in theater, mostly in New York Shakespeare Festivals and off-Broadway shows such as The Seagull, Macbeth, What Every Woman Knows and Kaspar, with the occasional Broadway role. In 1975, while starring as Oberon in a Yale University production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, he worked with a young Meryl Streep, who starred as Helena.
Lloyd worked in more than 200 stage productions before trying his hand at film. His debut screen role was as psychiatric patient Max Taber in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), which starred Jack Nicholson. The film went on to win five Academy Awards, including for best picture.
Following this breakthrough role, Lloyd moved to California to pursue more film work. In 1985, he appeared in the role for which he's know best known: as the eccentric Dr. Emmett "Doc" Brown in the commercially successful Back to the Future science-fiction adventure comedy film series alongside Michael J. Fox, beginning with Back to the Future in 1985. Directed by Robert Zemeckis and co-written by sci-fi screenwriter Bob Gale and Zemeckis, the series' second and third installments, Back to the Future Part II and Back to the Future Part III, were released in 1989 and 1990, respectively.
Other popular big-screen credits for Lloyd include playing a Klingon in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984); Professor Plum in Clue (1985); Judge Doom in Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988); and Uncle Fester, starring opposite Raul Julia and Angelica Houston, in both The Addams Family (1991) and Addams Family Values (1993).
During his career, Lloyd has also worked steadily in television, with roles including Professor B.O. Beanes on the show Amazing Stories, and a 1992 Emmy Award-winning guest appearance as Professor Dimpie on the drama series Road to Avonlea, which marked his first Emmy win (he was honored in the "Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series" category). But Lloyd is probably best known by TV fans for his role as the ex-hippie cab driver, "Reverend" Jim Ignatowski, on the popular American show Taxi. For his performance on the series during its 1982 and 1983 seasons, the actor garnered two additional Emmy Awards, both in the "Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy, Variety or Music Series" category.
Lloyd is a popular character actor, known for his height, thin physicality, raspy voice and animated facial expressions. Though he has become an icon among other character actors, Lloyd is often perceived as a loner who prefers to keep his personal life separate from his acting career, and he rarely does interviews. "I was just very shy," he told the British newspaper The Guardian in 2010. "I was never anxious to do talk shows as I didn't know what to say. And I don't feel I have any inherent interest."
Lloyd has been married and divorced four times: to Catherine Boyd, Kay Tornborg, Carol Vanek and Jane Walker Wood. His nephew is actor Sam Lloyd, who played lawyer Ted Buckland on the American comedy series Scrubs.
Lloyd is an avid cyclist and once toured through Italy on a bicycle. He also enjoys hiking and fly-fishing. After his home in Montecito, California, was destroyed in the Tea Fire—a wildfire that devastated more than 200 homes in the area in the fall of 2008—Lloyd bought a home in Montana.
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