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A former United States Marine reservist, he adopted his hair style during his time in the service. He currently hosts the Travel Channel show Drew Carey's Sporting Adventures.
Carey was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, mainly in the suburbs of Parma. After playing the cornet and trumpet in the marching band of Rhodes High School, he continued on to college at Kent State University. He joined the Delta Tau Delta fraternity and later was expelled twice.
After dropping out of the university, Carey joined the United States Marine Corps in 1980. He served there for several years, and in 1985, he began his comedy career by following up on a suggestion by a friend to check out books on how to write jokes from the library. In 1986, after winning an open-mic contest, he became emcee at the Cleveland Comedy Club. For the next few years, he performed at multiple comedy clubs in Cleveland and Los Angeles.
Carey was working as a stand-up comedian in 1991 when he appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. His performance that night was considered a success and impressed Johnny Carson personally. Carey claims he reached the limit on his credit card the next day returning calls from interested casting directors, and he credited Carson with making his career. He subsequently appeared in a number of supporting roles on television shows, some of them alongside Kathy Kinney, in which he developed the character of a hapless middle-class bachelor.
In 1997, Carey published his autobiography, Dirty Jokes and Beer: Stories of the Unrefined. In it, he shared memories of his early childhood and of his father's death when he was eight, and revealed that he was once molested, had suffered bouts of depression, and had made attempts at suicide. He also wrote of his college fraternity years while attending Kent State University, and of his professional career up to that time. The book was featured on the New York Times bestseller list for three months.
In 1993, Drew Carey had a small role in the movie Coneheads as a taxi passenger.
In 1994, Carey co-starred in The Good Life, a short-lived sitcom that aired on NBC.
In 1995 ABC began showing The Drew Carey Show, a sitcom that featured Carey and Kathy Kinney in their previous characters. Carey played the assistant director of personnel at a department store in Cleveland, Ohio. Carey also hosted the United States version of the improvisational comedy show, Whose Line Is It Anyway?.
In 2000, Carey starred in the TV film, Geppetto for an ABC presentation of the Wonderful World of Disney.
Philanthrophically, Carey is known for his support of libraries, crediting them for beginning his successful comedy career. On May 2, 2000, in a celebrity edition of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, he selected the Ohio Library Foundation to receive his $500,000 winnings.
For The WB's 2004 - 2005 prime time schedule, Carey co-produced and starred in Drew Carey's Green Screen Show, a spin-off of Whose Line Is It Anyway. It was cancelled by the WB, but picked up shortly afterward by Comedy Central. He also guest starred in 2000 on The Geena Davis Show
Carey also has played on the World Poker Tour in the Hollywood Home games for The Cleveland Public Library charity.
In 2005, Drew Carey provided a voice-over for the character Crank in the animated film Robots
On June 8, 2006, Drew Carey's Sporting Adventures debuted on the Travel Channel. Carey travels throughout Europe to photograph multiple soccer games while he immerses himself in the culture of each country he visits.
* Carey received an honorary Ph.D. degree from Cleveland State University in 2000.
* In both 2000 and 2001, Drew won the People's Choice Award for Favorite Male Television Performer for his work in The Drew Carey Show.
* On February 21, 2003, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
* In 2004, Comedy Central ranked him #84 on its list of the 100 greatest standups of all time.
Carey is also known for his Republican leanings and has expressed support for the Libertarian Party. The Drew Carey Show often backed a libertarian critique of political correctness, government regulations, racism, sexism, and homophobia, with storylines involving Carey's cross-dressing brother dating a bisexual woman (played by Illeana Douglas) for two episodes, ongoing criticism of the Boy Scouts of America's exclusionary policy against gay men, and support for same-sex marriage.
Since the show was cancelled, however, Carey has clarified that he is more of a conservative with libertarian leanings, and that he said he was libertarian to avoid a Hollywood bias against conservatives.
Carey is known for being a devoted Cleveland Browns, Indians and US Soccer fan. When he promoted The Drew Carey Show in 1995, at the same time the Indians were making a miraculous run at the World Series, he poked fun at the rest of baseball by saying, "Finally, it's your team that sucks!"
He is also a season ticket holder with the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Carey was the first TV star (as opposed to wrestler or athlete) to ever enter the World Wrestling Federation's 30-man "Royal Rumble" battle royal match in 2001; he was promoting an improv comedy pay per view at the time. He appeared in a few backstage segments before his brief participation in the match; he eliminated himself by offering a bribe to Kane and then fleeing the ring.
Drew Carey can sometimes be seen on the sidelines of US National Team soccer games as a press photographer (see). His images are sold via wire services under a pseudonym. He will be at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in the summer of 2006, for his new show Drew Carey's Sporting Adventures.