9/9/1966 (54 years old) Brooklyn, New York, United States
Sometimes megastars come in surprising packages. Such is the case with Sandler, a stand-up comedian who quickly earned fame playing a host of silly characters on Saturday Night Live. After landing a few acting roles, including stints on The Cosby Show and the MTV game show Remote Control, he began writing for SNL in 1990 and soon became a popular on-screen player, known for his crude humor and underdog appeal. He parlayed his small-screen success into a number of supporting film roles before graduating to leading man in 1995's Billy Madison, which he cowrote with college buddy and frequent collaborator Tim Herlihy. Despite being critically lambasted, this lowbrow flick about a twentysomething slacker who returns to school was a big hit and paved the way for a slew of other vehicles (Happy Gilmore, The Waterboy, The Wedding Singer) that helped make Sandler a member of the $20-million-per-picture club, even when his flicks flopped (Little Nicky). Inevitably, the funnyman yearned to tackle more serious fare and did so with more nuanced roles in Punch-Drunk Love and Spanglish, which were basically serious variants of his well-established persona. Sandler never lost sight of what his fans wanted and always reverted to his coarse but lovable ways. Even his critics admit that for a major Hollywood star, he has remained an affable, down-to-earth guy, who is happy to help out his less fortunate SNL cronies (David Spade, Rob Schneider) by producing their movies and frequently hires his old school chums for supporting roles in his films.