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Christopher Julius Rock III (born February 7, 1965, source Internet Movie Database) is an American comedian, actor, screenwriter, television producer, film producer and director. He was described by Comedy Central as the fifth greatest stand-up comedian of all time.
Rock was born in Andrews, South Carolina. Shortly after his birth, his parents moved to Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York. A few years later, they moved to the working-class area of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn where they settled. His mother, Rosalie Tingman, was a teacher and social worker with the mentally handicapped, and his father, Julius Rock, was a former truck driver and newspaper deliveryman. Julius died in 1989 after ulcer surgery. Rock has five younger siblings, Andre, Tony, Brian (a minister), Kenny, Andi, and a half-sibling, Jordan.
Rock began doing stand-up comedy in 1985 in New York City's Catch a Rising Star. Rock slowly rose up the ranks of the comedy circuit in addition to earning bit roles in the film I'm Gonna Git You Sucka and the TV series Miami Vice. Upon seeing his act at a nightclub, Eddie Murphy befriended and mentored the aspiring comic. Murphy gave Rock his first film role in Beverly Hills Cop II. Rock also auditioned to be on MTV as a VJ.
Early to mid-1990s
Rock became a cast member of the popular sketch comedy series Saturday Night Live in 1990. He and other new cast members Chris Farley, Adam Sandler and David Spade became known as the Bad Boys of SNL. In 1991, he released his first comedy album Born Suspect and won acclaim for his dramatic role as a crack addict in the film New Jack City. His tenure on SNL gave Rock national exposure, but he was rarely used on the show, save for his recurring Nat X character. A frustrated Rock left the show in 1993 and joined the predominately African-American sketch show In Living Color. But the show was no longer popular and was cancelled months later. Rock then decided to concentrate on a film career. He wrote and starred in the mockumentary CB4 but the film was not a success. Acting jobs became scarce, and Rock abandoned Hollywood to concentrate on stand-up comedy.
He starred in his first HBO comedy special in 1994 titled Big Ass Jokes. But it was his second stand-up special, 1996's Bring the Pain, that reinvented Rock as one of the best comedians in the industry. His routine, which featured commentaries on race in America, stirred up a great deal of controversy. Rock won two Emmy Awards for that special. Adding to his popularity was his much-publicized role as a commentator for Comedy Central's Politically Incorrect during the 1996 Presidential elections. Rock also was the voice for the "Lil Penny" puppet who was the alter ego to basketball star Penny Hardaway in a series of Nike shoe commercials from 1994-1998.
Rock later had two more HBO comedy specials: Bigger & Blacker in 1999, and Never Scared in 2004. Articles relating to both specials called Rock "the funniest man in America" in Time and Entertainment Weekly, respectively. HBO also aired his talk show, The Chris Rock Show, which gained critical acclaim for Rock's interviews with celebrities and politicians. The show won an Emmy for writing. His television work has won him a total of three Emmy Awards and 15 nominations. By the end of the decade, Rock was established as one of the preeminent stand-up comedians and comic minds of his generation.
During this time, Rock also translated his comedy into print form in the book Rock This! and released the Grammy Award-winning comedy albums, Roll with the New, Bigger & Blacker and Never Scared.
In 2004, Rock was ranked 5th on the 100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time list by Comedy Central.
He is currently working on his fifth HBO special program.
While Rock has acted in movies since 1987 (beginning with a small role in Beverly Hills Cop II), it was not until the success of his stand-up act in the late 1990s that Rock began receiving major parts in films. These include roles in Dogma, Beverly Hills Ninja, Lethal Weapon 4 and Nurse Betty and a starring role in Down to Earth. Rock has also increasingly worked behind the camera, both as a writer and director of Head of State and I Think I Love My Wife. In the fall of 2005, the UPN television network premiered a comedy series called Everybody Hates Chris, based on Rock's school days, of which he is the executive producer and narrator. The show has garnered both critical and commercial success, and Rock describes it as "honest" and "very working-class, so people can relate."
His comedy typically involves race relations in the United States, politics, music, romance, and class relationships. Though not directly based on it, many of his comedic views are rooted in his teen years; his very strict parents, concerned about the neighborhood schools, had him bused to an almost all-white high school in Bensonhurst (an Italian-ethnic neighborhood of Brooklyn that was known at the time for poor race relations). Rock claims to have been arrested four times: once for vehicular assault on a youth who had robbed him, and three times for traffic violations, including driving without a license and "driving too slow."
Rock is uncomfortable with the idea of being seen as a larger than life figure in standup comedy as opposed to some of his heroes like Bill Cosby, Eddie Murphy or Richard Pryor; when pressed for a statement during an interview with Playboy, he hesitated and finally responded: "I talked about race differently. I'll go that far".
In the promotion's early days Chris Rock made an appearance for TNA wrestling in which he was introduced by B. G. James and was hit with a chair and beaten up by wrestlers including Jeff Jarrett. This event was covered in TNA's "50 greatest moments".
Academy Awards host
In early 2005, Rock hosted the 77th Academy Awards ceremony. The decision to have Rock host the awards was seen by some as a chance to bring an "edge" to the ceremony and to make it more relevant or appealing to younger audiences. During one segment Rock asked "Who is this guy?" in reference to actor Jude Law seemingly appearing in every movie Rock had seen that year and implied Law was a low-rent Tom Cruise. Nearly two hours later, a defensive Sean Penn took the stage to present and said, "In answer to our host's question, Jude Law is one of our finest young actors." (At the time, Penn and Law were shooting All the King's Men.)
Rock's first music video was for his song "Your Mother's Got a Big Head" from his album Born Suspect. Rock also made videos for his songs "Champagne" from Roll With the New and "No Sex (In the Champagne Room)" from Bigger & Blacker. Chris Rock also directed and appeared in the music video for the Red Hot Chili Peppers song "Hump de Bump".
Rock appeared in the Big Daddy Kane music video "Smooth Operator" as a guy getting his hair cut.
He also appeared in Johnny Cash's "God's Gonna Cut You Down", one of the many celebrities seen lip-synching the song.
He directed Red Hot Chili Peppers video for their hit single "Hump De Bump" having been close friends with the Chili Peppers for some time.
Chris made his first appearance on stage in the UK at the Live Earth event 07/07/2007 which was broadcast live on the BBC. Before introducing the Red Hot Chili Peppers Chris called the crowd "motherfuckers". Due to the broadcast being at 5.45pm Chris was immediately cut off and the BBC made several apologies for his use of the word "motherfucker". He also went on in a later interview with Jonathan Ross to use the word "niggers" but was unrepentant in later NME interviews.
Madonna later repeated the "come on motherfuckers" comment during her Live Earth appearance after the watershed.
Rock has been married to Malaak Compton since November 23, 1996. She is the founder and executive director of StyleWorks, a non-profit, full-service salon that provides free services for women leaving welfare and entering the workforce. The couple have two daughters together, Lola Simone (born June 28, 2002) and Zahra Savannah (born May 22, 2004).
In November 2006, the entertainment news website TMZ.com reported that Rock was filing for divorce after nearly ten years of marriage to Malaak. Two weeks later, however, TMZ reported that Rock had not filed divorce papers, and that it appeared that the couple was able to work out their differences and stay together. In response to the reports, Rock released a statement to the press denouncing the reports as "untrue rumors and lies".
Tabloids, of course, are familiar territory for Rock and in regards to paparazzi and the other negative aspects of fame, he accepts the bad with the good. "You can't be happy that fire cooks your food and be mad it burns your fingertips."
Most recently, freelance journalist Kali Bowyer has filed a paternity suit against Chris Rock, claiming he is the father of her son in need of hospitalization. However, it was later revealed via paternity test, that Rock was not the father of Bowyer's son, Jordan.
Rock's brother, Tony Rock, is an actor and comedian. Rock currently resides in Alpine, New Jersey.