What's that they say? You can take the boy out of Toronto but you can't take the Toronto winter out of the boy? Comedian, actor and TV host Howie Mandel may live in sunny Los Angeles these days (where he has a Hollywood Walk of Fame star) but his first thought when he heard he was receiving a Canada Walk of Fame star?
"I wondered if I'm personally responsible for shoveling the snow off my star in Canada," he quips. "The best thing about having a star is I think this entitles me to 10% off at the Bay. The worst thing is I am a germaphobe and my highest Canadian honor will be constantly stepped on!" And while he also jokes that, at the beginning of his career, he imagined he'd just be shoveling snow off somebody else's star, he clearly doesn't need to worry about that either. Thirty years and counting, Mandel's career spans all facets of the entertainment spectrum.
Mandel says the secret to his success was: "I showed up and I got really lucky." It's not entirely untrue! While Mandel had been doing some stand-up in Toronto, he jumpstarted his career on a dare during a trip to Los Angeles, in 1979. He was at the legendary Comedy Store on amateur night and was coaxed by his friends to get up and try his luck. As fate would have it, there was a producer in the crowd who immediately hired him to appear on the comedy game show Make Me Laugh. This one gig then led to talk show appearances, and stints as an opening act for Diana Ross.
As a stand-up comedian, one of Mandel's signature stunts was stretching a latex glove over his head and inflating it with his nostrils, filling it until it suddenly propelled itself off his head. This trick also lent itself to the title and cover photo of his comedy album, Fits Like a Glove.
In 1980, he won the lead role in the Canadian movie Gas, co-starring Susan Anspach and Donald Sutherland. He was one of the first veejays to appear on Nickelodeon's music video series, Pop Clips, a show that would go on to provide the genesis of MTV. By 1982, Mandel had moved to the cast of the award-winning NBC series St. Elsewhere, where he spent six seasons as Dr. Wayne Fiscus.
Mandel also did a bit of voice-over work! He played the adorable mogwai Gizmo in the 1984 hit Gremlins and its 1990 sequel Gremlins 2: The New Batch. He was aslo the voice of Bunsen Honeydew, Animal and Skeeter for the first two seasons of Muppet Babies. But his most popular role would undoubtedly be Bobby from the Emmy-nominated animated series Bobby's World, which Mandel created and executive produced.
Fastforward to 2008, and Howie finds himself at the helm of NBC's phenomenon Deal or No Deal (he also hosted the nationally-syndicated version of the show in Canada). He also hosted his own hidden camera show, Howie Do It, based on his signature bits from The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. He also joined the panel of judges for NBC's America's Got Talent, replacing David Hasselhoff, in the fifth season of the reality talent contest.
He met his wife Terry in high school, and they've been together since 1980. They have three children: daughters Jackie (b. 1984) and Riley (b. 1992), and son Alex (b. 1989).
Mandel suffers from mysophobia (an irrational fear of germs) to the point that he does not shake hands with anyone, including contestants on Deal or No Deal, unless he is wearing latex gloves; to that end, he prefers to bump fists instead.