The Howard Stern Show, Late Show With David Letterman, MadTV, Comedy Central, Conan O'Brien
Artie Lange was born Arthur Steven Lange, Jr. on October 11th, 1967. Today Lange is best known as an American actor, stand-up comedian, author and radio personality, most notable for replacing Jackie Martling on The Howard Stern Show. Lange was also part of the original cast member of the Fox sketch series MADtv. Lange has frequently joked about his bad luck with movies, naming Mystery Men as his worst film of all time. In fact, Lange claims that his mother and sister called him from the movie theater to ask if he had any other scenes because they wanted if it was okay to leave yet. His politically incorrect material often consists largely of observational bits and storytelling. Lange is often compared to one of his idols, John Belushi, likely because both struggled with weight as well as drug and alcohol addiction.
Lange was born at St. Barnabas to Judy, a homemaker and Arthur Sr., a general contractor. He was raised in Union Township. Two weeks after he was born, his father went on trial for counterfeiting. Arthur Sr. was spared jail time only by the mercy of the court. While in high school, Lange excelled in baseball becoming an All County third baseman. After he finished high school, Lange's father fell from a roof. He broke his back and became quadriplegic.
Early in his life, Lange was arrested for attempted bank robbery. At the time, Lange was only trying to flirt with the teller by passing her a fake holdup note demanding $50,000. That teller quickly rang a silent alarm. When Lange learned that the police were searching for him, he turned himself in. He was charged with disorderly conduct and sentenced to 25 hours of community service. As a part of his probation, Lange attended the Connecticut School of Broadcasting. Based on his work at the school, Lange was offered a radio job in Wyoming. However, rather than taking the job, Lange stayed in New Jersey. Lange also changed his college plans to be near his family, taking up odd jobs as a clerk, laborer and cab driver. There he began working longshoreman to help support his family. After his fathers' death, Lange quit his longshoreman's' job. He gave up that job to play his first gig at New York's Improv in Hell's Kitchen. Gaining steadying success Artie pursued sketch comedy, helping to create the popular New York improvisation group, Live On Tape.
In 1995, Lange landed a role as an original cast members of FOX's sketch comedy show MADtv. He attributed his hiring to the fact that he fit the John Belushi mold. Lange's most popular recurring character on the show was called That's My White Mama, an overweight, overbearing mother who is all white but acts ghetto-black. It was considered one of the most popular and the most offensive sketches to air on MadTV. His impersonations on the show included Ed Harris, Ed McMahon, F. Lee Bailey, Joe Pesci, Roseanne Barr and Rosie O'Donnell. He is also known for his impersonations of Notorious B. I. G., Anne Murray, Brian Johnson, the Iron Sheik, Henry Hill, Larry Flint and Yassir Arafat. The following year Lange made his film acting debut in the sports-comedy Jerry Maguire starring Tom Cruise and Cuba Gooding Junior. Lange played a sports radio host in a deleted scene.
While still on MADtv, Lange began using cocaine. Lange actually used the substance while filming. It happened during a shooting of the sketch Babewatch, a parody of the popular Dave Hasselhoff series Baywatch. Lange snorted cocaine in his car in full pig make-up during a break in the shooting. Upon returning from the shoot, Lange passed out in his hotel room, awakening to find he had defecated in his bed. During the second season of MADtv, Lange's time on MadTV came to a dramatic end. After a cocaine binge, cast and crew members attempted an intervention. Instead, Lange fled the studio running through streets with his MadTV co-workers chasing after him. Before Lange was arrested, he attempted to punch one of the arresting police officers. He was sentenced to time served and probation. While Lange began psychiatric counseling and inpatient drug rehabilitation, the producers of MadTV decided not to renew his contract for season three.
After Lange served a short jail term, SNL alumnus Norm Macdonald offered Lange a part in the 1998 movie Dirty Work. The film was directed by fellow comedian and former AFV host Bob Saget. In the film, long-time friends Mitch, played by MacDonald, and Sam, played by Lange, start a successful revenge-for-hire business. After the film, Lange joined the cast of Macdonald's sitcom The Norm Show during its second season, staying until its cancellation the following year. Lange has since described this period as a personal high point, but a creative low point. While he enjoyed being paid $35,000 an episode and working amongst the cast, he wasn't all that impressed with what he deemed the show's lame jokes. Lange soon would find himself compared to the now-late Chris Farley when he appeared opposite David Spade in the 1999 comedy Lost and Found. Lost and Found could, in the end, was not able to use Lange to recreate the Spade/ Farley magic of earlier films. It would only earn $6 million in theatres against a $30 million budget. That same year, Lange has also popped up in Mystery Men, The Bachelor and the 4th Floor.
Lange appeared as a guest on The Howard Stern Show three times from 1998 to 1999, always with MacDonald promoting MacDonald's ill-fated sitcom. Following the departure of Stern's head writer of 15 years Jackie Martling, Stern announced a Win Jackie's Money contest. That contest allowed various comedians to audition for Martling's vacant seat. The initial contestants included Craig Gass, Doug Stanhope, Jim Florentine, Ron Zimmerman and the late Richard Jeni. After the cancellation of The Norm Show, Lange sat in for a number of shows and became a full-time cast member on October 26th, 2001. Since Lange joined the show, Stern has often teased him for his eating habits, gambling, drinking, drug use and sleeping at work. Lange has a theory on why the Howard Stern show has become so popular. "The Howard Stern Show is a big hit because it entertains dumb and smart people at the same time for different reasons," says Lange. "There's a couple of shows like that, The Simpsons is another one, smart people and stupid people love The Simpsons for totally different reasons; that's why it's a big hit, everybody's either smart or stupid so a lot of people watch it."
In 2003, Lange played Gimbel's Santa in the Will Ferrell comedy Elf. That same year Lange would have smaller roles in the films, God has a Rap Sheet, Mail Order Bride and another Will Ferrell blockbuster film, Old School. In 2004, Lange released his first stand-up DVD, It's the Whiskey Talkin'. Then, in May 2004, a Las Vegas radio station KLAS-TV reported that Lange was dead. The story turned out to be a prank started by a Stern Show regular caller named Captain Janks. But Lange's problems were about to begin for real.
In June 2005, Lange missed four days on the Howard Stern show. This led to speculation of possible relapse and more substance abuse. The situation climaxed on July 27th when Lange infamously sneered at Stern and the staff on the air and declared, "Artie's gotta do what Artie's gotta do!" He then missed the next two days, writing his absence as stress from doing the radio show and filming his comedy film Artie Lange's Beer League, a remake of Gameday. On September 21st, 2006, Lange acknowledged that he had regularly snorted heroin. Lange stated he began using when he started doing comedy continuing all the way up until he began shooting Beer League. On the set of the film the abuse got so bad that Lange was threatened with legal action by producers of Beer League if he failed to show up for the first day of shooting.
Meanwhile, on November 11th, 2008, Lange's first book, Too Fat To Fish, was released. The book was a collection of stories from Lange's childhood to his recent USO trip to Afghanistan. The book, with a forward by Howard Stern, debuted at number one on the New York Times bestseller list. A paperback edition was released in June of 2009.
On April 10th, 2008, Lange walked off the Howard Stern Show after an on-air argument with his personal assistant, Teddy. Later in the broadcast, Lange returned to apologize and tender his resignation, which Stern accepted. However, on April 21st, 2008, Lange returned to the Howard Stern Show, following a one-week hiatus. Lange apologized for his behavior. Though Sirius allowed Lange to return to the show, another infraction would end his employment. On December 9th, 2009, Lange left the show for an indefinite period of time without announcing his withdrawal. At the time, Stern commented on the situation, "I can't reveal anything about Artie's not being here and until later, Artie won't be coming back to the show."
On November 17th, 2009, Artie will release his second CD/ DVD combo, titled Jack and Coke which was recorded live in New York City. On January 2nd, 2010 TMZ.com reported that Lange was rushed to a local hospital in New Jersey for undisclosed reasons. A representative for Lange told TMZ: "I can confirm that Artie is in the hospital. Artie has chosen to keep all information on this matter between him and his doctor. There will be no further comment."
Lange frequently discussed his on-again/off-again relationship with longtime girlfriend Dana Sironi of New Jersey, after they began dating in early spring 2002. Their relationship has been on and off ever since. Lange remains close to his family. Politically, Lange doesn't consider himself liberal though he has called President George W. Bush a dolt. He also voted for John Kerry in 2004 and for Barack Obama in 2008. Lange considers comedian George Carlin to be the all-time greatest. He has been critical of the positive press given to comedians like Jon Stewart and Ricky Gervais, stating that their acclaim approaches hyperbole. Lange is also rumored to have a role in the upcoming 2010 Christopher Lloyd comedy, Serial Budies.