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Albert Brooks

Albert Brooks (born July 22, 1947) is an actor, comedian, and director described by some as "wickedly funny and observant".

He was born Albert Einstein in Los Angeles, California.

His father, Harry Einstein, was known as Parkyarkarkus, a Greek dialect comedian who performed on Eddie Cantor's radio program. Albert grew up among showbiz royalty in southern California, attending high school with Carl Reiner's son Rob and Joey Bishop's son Larry. To break into acting Albert attended Carnegie Tech in Pittsburgh, then changed his surname and began a standup career which quickly made him a staple on variety and talk shows during the late '60s/early '70s. Brooks's onstage persona of an egotistical, nervous comic influenced such other comedians as Steve Martin, Martin Mull, and Andy Kaufman. After two successful comedy albums, Brooks left the standup circuit. He directed six short films for the first season of NBC's Saturday Night Live in 1975 and appeared in his first film, opposite Cybill Shepherd in Scorsese's landmark Taxi Driver (Albert was allowed to improvise much of his dialogue).

He directed his first feature, Real Life, in 1979, a witty sendup of PBS's American Family documentary, in which Brooks obnoxiously films a typical suburban family to win not just an Oscar, but a Nobel Prize. Following a brief cameo in Goldie Hawn's Private Benjamin (1980), he filmed Modern Romance, in which he starred as a film editor desperate to win back his ex-girlfriend. His masterpiece film, Lost in America, was released in 1985. In it, Brooks and Julie Hagerty ditch their yuppie lifestyle to live in a motor home, only to find the disadvantages of poverty. The movie has several bravura scenes, including Brooks with Vegas casino owner Garry Marshall as well as his "nest egg" monologue.

Defending Your Life (1991) placed Brooks's lead character in the afterlife, put on trial to justify his human failings and to determine his cosmic fate. Brooks delivered upon an offbeat premise and drew out a terrific comedic performance from Meryl Streep as his post-death love interest. Mother (1997) starred Brooks as a middle-aged writer moving back home to resolve his tensions with Mom, played brilliantly by Debbie Reynolds. The Muse (1999) presented Brooks as a down-and-out Hollywood screenwriter using the services of an authentic Greek muse (Sharon Stone) for inspiration.

Brooks continued acting in other people's films during the 1980s and 1990s. In James Brooks's Broadcast News (1987), Albert won an Oscar nomination as an insecure, supremely ethical network TV reporter. He also won accolades in Out of Sight (1999) and My First Mister (2001) and has appeared as a guest voice on The Simpsons four times during its run. He countinued his voice over work in Disney and Pixars Finding Nemo as the voice of Marlin the clown fish.

A longtime bachelor (Brooks was romantically linked to such celebrities as Linda Ronstadt and Kathryn Harrold), Brooks married in his late 40s and became a father in his 50s.