Edward Harry Deezen (born March 6, 1957) is an American actor and comedian. He played bit parts as nerd characters in 1970s and 1980s films such as Grease, Grease 2, Midnight Madness, I Wanna Hold Your Hand, 1941, and WarGames. He starred in Surf II: The End of the Trilogy, Mob Boss, Beverly Hills Vamp, and Teenage Exorcist.
In animation, he is recognized for his distinctively high-pitched and nasal voice, which has been used for Mandark in the Cartoon Network series Dexter’s Laboratory, Snipes the Magpie in Rock-a-Doodle, Ned in Kim Possible, and the Know-It-All Kid in The Polar Express.
Edward Harry Deezen was born in Cumberland, Maryland, on March 6, 1957, the son of Irma and Robert Deezen. He was raised Jewish. A class clown in his youth, Deezen started out with aspirations of becoming a stand-up comedian, moving out to Hollywood within days of graduating high school in order to pursue a career.
As a stand-up comedian, he performed at least three times at The Comedy Store, though eventually decided to abandon stand-up and focus on acting after bombing his last act and having difficulty memorizing his routine. Deezen attempted stand-up one last time, however, when he appeared on an episode of The Gong Show in the mid-1970s, only to be gonged by singer-songwriter Paul Williams.
Deezen landed his first and perhaps best-known role in the film Grease, playing nerdy student Eugene Felsnic, a part he won through a standard audition process. During Grease’s post-production period, Deezen won another small role-playing a bully in the low-budget independent science fiction movie Laserblast. Despite being his second film, Laserblast marked Deezen’s screen debut when it was released in March 1978, three months before the theatrical release of Grease.
Following the massive success of Grease, Deezen found himself being cast in a string of high-profile comedy films playing similarly nerdy characters, including Robert Zemeckis’ directorial debut I Wanna Hold Your Hand (1978) and Steven Spielberg’s 1979 epic comedy 1941. Deezen was in such demand by 1979 that he was constantly having to turn down roles. Two such notable instances were the characters of Eaglebauer in Rock ‘n’ Roll High School and Spaz in Meatballs, both of which Deezen turned down in order to film 1941.
Throughout the early 1980s, Deezen perpetuated his trademark nerd persona in several major films, including Disney’s Midnight Madness (1980), Zapped! (1982), WarGames (1983), and returning for the role of Eugene Felsnic in Grease 2 (1982), one of only seven actors from the original Grease to return for the sequel. In 1984, Deezen was cast in a recurring role on television, playing a goofy superintendent on the first season of Punky Brewster. After filming only eight episodes, however, Deezen voluntarily left the series due to his reluctance to perform before a live audience and a continuing difficulty in remembering his lines.
WarGames marked the final mainstream film of Deezen’s live-action acting career as he began working exclusively in independent film for the remainder of the 1980s, starting with his first starring role in the 1984 cult comedy Surf II: The End of the Trilogy, where he played the movie’s antagonist, mad scientist Menlo Schwartzer.
That year saw the release of Revenge of the Nerds, the film that is generally credited with making the stock character of the stereotypical “nerd” a mainstay of teen films. Despite having arguably created the nerd archetype in such movies before, Deezen was not cast in the film. He remarked in an interview that he later asked the producers of Revenge of the Nerds why he hadn’t been offered a role and was given the response that he was deemed “too geeky”, whereas casting was instead just looking to dress “normal people” up as nerds. Despite this, Deezen says he is frequently “recognized” by strangers for being in the film.
Deezen worked steadily throughout the remainder of the 1980s and early 1990s, continuing to play nerds in both bit parts and major roles, including The Whoopee Boys (1986), the ensemble comedy Million Dollar Mystery (1987), Critters 2: The Main Course (1988), and The Silence of the Hams (1994). He worked several times alongside comedian Tim Conway, most notably appearing in two of his Dorf videos, and struck up a partnership with prolific low-budget filmmaker and producer Fred Olen Ray, who gave Deezen leading roles with the films Beverly Hills Vamp (1988), Mob Boss (1990), and Teenage Exorcist (1991).
Following his cameo appearance as a security guard in the 1996 Leslie Nielsen spoof Spy Hard, Deezen wouldn’t appear in a live-action film for another 17 years. In a July 2009 interview, Deezen talked about his struggle maintaining an acting career, saying “The truth is, it is extremely tough to sustain a career in Hollywood. It is tough enough ever getting work, just the sheer odds. I loved John [Badham] and Matthew [Broderick] and it would definitely be my pleasure to work with them again. Believe me, if the right role was there and available, I’d be there in a second”.
In 2012, Deezen starred in a live-action comedic short film entitled I Love You, Eddie Deezen. The plot revolves around a nerdy woman’s cross-country journey to find the man of her dreams: Eddie Deezen. The short was released on November 19, 2012. The following year, Deezen returned to live-action movies in Fred Olen Ray’s television film All I Want for Christmas, making a cameo as a supposed A-list action movie star being interviewed on a daytime talk show. In early 2015, Deezen did a cameo in a live-action comedy short film Flight Fright, playing a nervous airline passenger. In late 2016, he starred with Larry (The Soup Nazi) Thomas and Caryn Richman in the short comedy The Love Suckers, which screened at the 2017 New York City International Film Festival.
In the mid-1980s, Deezen transitioned into voice acting, a change of pace he favored due to better pay and not needing to memorize dialogue. His early voice roles included the voice of Donnie Dodo in Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird (1985), and Snipes the Magpie in Don Bluth’s 1991 film Rock-a-Doodle. According to a 2011 interview, Deezen unsuccessfully auditioned for the role of the title character in Robert Zemeckis’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit, losing out to comedian Charles Fleischer. He was also considered for the role of Judge Doom in the film along with several other actors that were considered but lost the role to Christopher Lloyd.
Deezen eventually found full-time voice work on television in the mid-1990s, playing recurring characters on the animated series Grimmy, Duckman, Kim Possible and What’s New, Scooby-Doo?, as well as guest spots on many others, including Johnny Bravo, Recess, and Darkwing Duck. His best-known voice-over character, however, is that of Mandark, the nemesis of the eponymous Dexter on Cartoon Network’s Dexter’s Laboratory, a role he played for the series’ entire run from 1996–2003. Deezen also voiced the character on the TV special Dexter’s Laboratory: Ego Trip and the video games Cartoon Network Racing and FusionFall.
In 2004, Deezen returned to the big screen once again under the direction of Robert Zemeckis to supply voice and motion capture performance for the blockbuster holiday film The Polar Express, playing the role of the nerdy “Know-It-All”. He reprised this role for the subsequent video game.
Deezen regularly lends his voice to radio and television commercials. In the late 1990s, he provided the voice of Pop (of Snap, Crackle and Pop) in commercials for Rice Krispies cereal, and Nacho, the mascot for Taco Bell’s kid’s meals commercials, alongside Rob Paulsen as Dog. In 2011, Deezen was under consideration for succeeding Gilbert Gottfried as the voice of the Aflac Duck but did not win the role.
Deezen still lives in Hollywood, where, according to him, “Along with my unemployment checks and residual checks, I will continue living the ‘great American dream’ – getting paid while doing absolutely nothing”.
Deezen is a huge fan of The Beatles, proclaiming himself to be their “biggest fan”. He was interviewed as himself for the unreleased 2005 film Me and Graham: The Soundtrack of Our Lives, a documentary following two filmmakers searching the US and UK for the ultimate Beatles fan. For over a year his official website featured a difficult Beatles trivia quiz – devised by Deezen himself – with a $100 prize for anyone who could answer all the questions correctly. Deezen revealed in a later interview that nobody had ever claimed the prize.
Deezen is also a pop culture trivia buff, and since 2011 has been a contributing writer to several trivia websites including mental_floss, TodayIFoundOut.com and Neatorama.com. While most of Deezen’s articles pertain to The Beatles and their members, he also regularly writes about such subjects as baseball, American history and classic comedy acts like The Three Stooges, the Marx Brothers and Martin and Lewis.
|I Wanna Hold Your Hand||Richard “Ringo” Klaus|
|1981||Steigler and Steigler||Red|
|1982||Grease 2||Eugene Felsnic|
|1984||Surf II: The End of the Trilogy||Menlo Schwartzer|
|The Rosebud Beach Hotel||Sydney|
|1985||A Polish Vampire in Burbank||Sphincter|
|Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird||Donnie Dodo (voice)|
|1986||The Longshot||Parking Attendant||Cameo|
|The Whoopee Boys||Eddie Lipschitz|
|Million Dollar Mystery||Rollie|
|1988||Critters 2: The Main Course||Hungry Heifer Manager|
|Assault of the Killer Bimbos||Dopey Deputy|
|Dorf’s Golf Bible||Waldo|
|Beverly Hills Vamp||Kyle Carpenter|
|1989||Hollywood Boulevard II||Walter|
|1990||Wedding Band||Slappy the Clown||Cameo|
|Dorf Goes Auto Racing||Dipstick|
|The Raven Red Kiss-Off||Himalayan Operator||Cameo|
|Mob Boss||Tony Anthony|
|1994||The Silence of the Hams||Video Cameraman||Cameo|
|1995||Mr. Payback: An Interactive Movie||Phil the Guard|
|1996||Spy Hard||Rancor Guard Who Gets Spit On||Cameo|
|1997||The Brave Little Toaster to the Rescue||Charlie (voice)|
|2002||Snow Dogs||Diesel||Voice role|
|2004||The Polar Express||Know-It-All (voice)||Also motion-capture|
|2012||I Love You, Eddie Deezen||Himself||Short film|
|2013||All I Want for Christmas||Larry Eastwood||Cameo
|2015||Flight Fright||Nervous Airline Passenger||Short film|
|The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water||Seagull (voice)|
|2016||The Love Suckers||Sammy Schwartz||Short film|
|1979||Champions: A Love Story||Eric Philpot||Television film|
|1982||The Facts of Life||Grusky||Episode: “The Big Fight”|
|1983||Magnum, P.I.||Mickey Dalrumple||Episode: “Squeeze Play”|
|1984||Punky Brewster||Eddie Malvin||12 episodes|
|1986||The Fall Guy||Merle Monroe||Episode: “Lady in Green”|
|1989||Monsters||Demon #2||Episode: “The Demons”|
|1991||Darkwing Duck||Mouth (voice)||Episode: “Darkly Dawns the Duck”|
|1992||Mother Goose and Grimm||Ham (voice)||2 episodes|
|Goof Troop||Road Hogs Biker (voice)||Episode: “Queasy Rider”|
|Eek! The Cat||Ringo (voice)||Episode: “Bearz ‘N the Hood”|
|1994||Scooby-Doo! in Arabian Nights||Caliph (voice)||Television special|
|Aaahh!!! Real Monsters||Bulletin Board Monster (voice)||Episode: “Cold Hard Toenails/Attack of the Blobs”|
|1994–1996||Duckman||Iggy Catalpa (voice)||3 episodes|
|1995||The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes||Agent Tucker||Television film|
|Dexter’s Laboratory||Mandark (voice)||20 episodes|
|1996–1997||Life with Louie||Melvin (voice)||4 episodes|
|1996||Mighty Ducks: The Animated Series||Alvin Yasbek (voice)||Episode: “Mondo-Man”|
|Timon & Pumbaa||Bahuka (voice)||Episode: “Alcatraz Mataz/Oahu Wahoo”|
|1997||The Weird Al Show||The Guy Boarded Up in the Wall||4 episodes|
|1998||Cow and Chicken||Glasses Boy (voice)||Episode: “Can Cow Come Out and Play/Horn Envy”|
|The Lionhearts||Tex Hardbottom (voice)||Episode: “Brown Dog Day”|
|The Secret Files of the Spy Dogs||D’Cell (voice)||Episode: “D’Cell/Halfday”|
|1999||Dexter’s Laboratory: Ego Trip||Mandark (voice)||Television special|
|Johnny Bravo||Oswald (voice)||Episode: “A League of His Own/Johnny Goes to Camp/Buffoon Lagoon”|
|1999–2000||Disney’s Recess||Frank ‘Tiny’ Sedgwick (voice)||3 episodes|
|2001–2004||Lloyd in Space||Larry (voice)||5 episodes|
|2001–2003||Oswald||Andy Pumpkin (voice)||7 episodes|
|2002–2007||Kim Possible||Ned (voice)||4 episodes|
|2003–2005||What’s New, Scooby-Doo?||Gibby Norton (voice)||3 episodes|
|2005||Coconut Fred’s Fruit Salad Island||Slurpy the Bat (voice)||Episode: “A Cold Day on Fruit Salad Island/Five Nuts and a Baby”|
|Kim Possible Movie: So the Drama||Ned (voice)||Television special|
|2009||Chowder||Todd (voice)||Episode: “Sheboodles”|
|SpongeBob SquarePants||Himself||Episode: “SpongeBob’s Truth or Square”|
|2010||Pound Puppies||Carlton J. Stankmeyer (voice)||Episode: “The Yipper Caper”|
|2011||A Fairly Odd Movie: Grow Up, Timmy Turner!||Elmer||Television film|
|2012||Handy Manny||Zip (voice)||2 episodes|
|2015||Star vs. the Forces of Evil||Additional Voices||Episode: “Star Comes to Earth/Party With a Pony”|
|Transformers: Robots in Disguise||Ped (voice)||Episode: “Can You Dig It?”|
|2016||Wander Over Yonder||Cartoon Peepers (voice)||Episode: “The Cartoon”|
|1995||Mr. Payback: An Interactive Movie||Phil the Guard|
|2004||The Polar Express||Know-It-All|
|2006||Cartoon Network Racing||Mandark|