Born in 1944 in San Francisco, California, actor Jeffrey Tambor got his start in the industry after taking acting classes as an adolescent. He went on to study acting at Wayne State University, later teaching theater at his alma mater. In 1981, Tambor found recurring work playing different characters on the popular series Three's Company and its spin-off The Ropers. From there, he starred on several television series before landing one of his biggest roles: playing Hank Kingsley on The Larry Sanders Show (1992-98). After the show's six-year run, Tambor returned to the spotlight with a featured part on the popular TV comedy Arrested Development (2003-06, 2013) and the online series Transparent (2014), for which the actor has won a Golden Globe and multiple Emmys.
Background and Education
Actor Jeffrey Michael Tambor was born on July 8, 1944, in San Francisco, California, to Michael Tambor, a flooring contractor, and Eileen Tambor, a homemaker. At the age of 11, Tambor began to gain a serious interest in acting, taking classes and refining his skills. His desire to work in the performing arts persisted for years to come, with Tambor studying acting at San Francisco State University and attaining a master's degree from Wayne State University. Thereafter, he taught theater at his alma mater.
Stage Career and 'Three's Company'
Making good use of his degree, Tambor began what would become a 15-year career as a stage actor. He made his Broadway debut in Sly Fox (1976), co-starring with the iconic George C. Scott, and made his big-screen debut three years later in …And Justice for All (1979). He later picked up his first role as a regular cast member in 1980 on the Three's Company spin-off, The Ropers. Though the series only lasted one season, it gave Tambor some much-needed exposure. Tambor's hot streak continued, as he was given the opportunity to play different characters on Three's Company in 1981 and '82.
Big Break: 'Larry Sanders'
Tambor primarily stayed in the TV industry, making a series of minor appearances on television programs in the 1980s and '90s, including M*A*S*H (1982) and Doogie Howser, M.D. (1989). It wasn't until he appeared on the series The Larry Sanders Show (1992-98) that Tambor made a name for himself. On the series, a spoof of other late-night talk shows, Tambor portrayed Hank Kingsley, the sidekick of talk show host Larry Sanders, played by Garry Shandling. Several celebrity guests, including Bridget Fonda, Jim Carrey and Rob Lowe, appeared on the series throughout its six-season run, during which time Tambor garnered four Emmy nominations.
'Arrested Development' and 'Transparent'
Various successful acting gigs came as a result of Tambor's acclaimed performance on The Larry Sanders Show, but none catapulted the actor further in his career than his portrayal of the Bluth twins—playing both George Sr., a business owner and the patriarch of the dysfunctional Bluth family, and Oscar, George's twin brother—on the TV series Arrested Development. Deemed an instant hit for its unique humor and wit, the show brought Tambor two more Emmy nominations.
Though revered by critics, the series saw poor ratings and was canceled after three seasons on FOX. After its initial run (2003-06), however, the show was renewed—due in no small part to its strong, cult-like following—this time airing exclusively on Netflix. Premiering in 2013, the fourth season of Arrested Development saw the reunion of the entire original cast, including Jason Bateman, Portia de Rossi, Michael Cera and Will Arnett.
In 2014, Tambor starred as lead in the Amazon online series Transparent. Created by Jill Soloway, the show looks at a transgender woman creating a life for herself while dealing with family drama. The groundbreaking venture won a 2015 Golden Globe for best TV series, musical or comedy, with Tambor claiming a Globe for lead actor. That year, as well as in 2016, he won a lead actor Emmy for his work. Tambor garnered yet another Golden Globe nomination for lead actor for the 2017 award show.
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