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Damon Wayans Sr.
Damon Wayans.JPG
Wayans in 2008
Birth name Damon Kyle Wayans
Born (1960-09-04) September 4, 1960 (age 63)
New York City, U.S.
Medium
  • Film
  • stand-up
  • television
Years active 1982–present
Genres
Subject(s)
  • Family
  • marriage
  • American politics
  • everyday life
Spouse
Lisa Thorner
(m. 1984; div. 2000)
Children 4, including Damon Wayans Jr.
Relative(s) See Wayans family

Damon Kyle Wayans Sr. ( born September 4, 1960) is an American stand-up comedian, actor, producer, and writer. Wayans performed as a comedian and actor throughout the 1980s, including a year-long stint on the NBC sketch comedy series Saturday Night Live.

Wayans' true breakthrough, however, came as writer and performer on Fox's sketch comedy show In Living Color (1990-1992), on his animated series Waynehead (1996-1997) and on his TV series Damon (1998). Since then, he has starred in a number of films and television shows, some of which he has co-produced or co-written, including Beverly Hills Cop, Mo Money, The Last Boy Scout, and Major Payne and the sitcom My Wife and Kids. From 2016 to 2019, he starred as Roger Murtaugh in the Fox television series Lethal Weapon. He is a member of the Wayans family of entertainers.

Early life

Wayans was born in Harlem in New York City, the son of Elvira Alethia (Green), a homemaker, singer and social worker, and Howell Stouten Wayans, a supermarket manager. He has five sisters—Elvira, Vonnie, Nadia, Kim and Diedra—and four brothers—Keenen, Marlon, Shawn and Dwayne. He was club footed as a child.

This attribute would also be given to his character in My Wife and Kids, and his character on the short lived cartoon series Waynehead. Wayans attended Murry Bergtraum High School.

Career

Damon started doing stand-up comedy in 1982. His earliest film appearance was a brief cameo as an effeminate hotel employee in the Eddie Murphy film of 1984, Beverly Hills Cop. From 1985 to 1986, he appeared on Saturday Night Live as a featured performer, before getting fired after just eleven episodes for improvising during a live sketch, playing his character as a flamboyant gay cop instead of a straight cop. (Damon continued this sketch character in his family created show In Living Color on Fox Television, in 1990, as the flamboyant gay character, Blaine Edwards, an obvious hat tip to Blake Edwards of films starring The Pink Panther.) Wayans later claimed that he wanted to be fired due to lack of creative freedom and screen time. Wayans further explained that Lorne Michaels did not want Wayans to do too much too soon and begin drawing comparisons to Eddie Murphy who had just left the show. He also appeared in the syndicated television series Solid Gold during the 1980s as a comedian.

With his brother Keenen, Wayans created the Fox sketch comedy series In Living Color, which had a mostly African-American cast. The show went on the air in April 1990. It continued running until May 1994, although Wayans left the show in 1992 to pursue a film career.

After In Living Color, he starred in films such as Mo' Money, The Last Boy Scout, Major Payne, Celtic Pride, Bulletproof, and The Great White Hype, and wrote and starred in the film Blankman. He also appeared in Janet Jackson's video "The Best Things in Life Are Free" and was considered for the role of The Riddler in Batman Forever (the role went to Jim Carrey, his co star from In Living Color and Earth Girls Are Easy).

In October 1996, he produced Waynehead, a short lived cartoon for The WB, loosely based on his own childhood growing up in a large family, starring a poor boy with a club foot. The show only lasted a season due to poor ratings. From 1997 to 1998, he was the executive producer of 413 Hope St., a short lived drama on the FOX network starring Richard Roundtree and Jesse L. Martin.

In March 1998, he starred in the short lived comedy television series Damon, in which he played a detective from Chicago. It aired on Fox. In 1999, his The New York Times bestselling book Bootleg, with co author David Asbery was published; it is a humorous compilation of his observations about family.

In October 2000, he was the lead in Spike Lee's Bamboozled. Wayans starred in the ABC comedy series My Wife and Kids from March 2001 to May 2005. In the end of 2006, he produced and starred in the Showtime sketch comedy series The Underground, which also featured his son, Damon Jr. He also hosted the June 2006 BET Awards.

2007 Damon Wayans crop 01
Wayans performing in 2007

As of 2014, Wayans continues to perform stand-up comedy and has developed apps with his company of freelancers "MIMS" (Money in My Sleep). The company created applications such as Flick Dat, Diddeo and VHedz.

On November 12, 2015, at the Irvine Improv, Damon Wayans announced his retirement from stand up commencing December 2015. In September 2016, he was cast as Roger Murtaugh in the television version of Lethal Weapon, a role originated by Danny Glover in the film series. On October 3, 2018, it was reported that Wayans would leave Lethal Weapon after filming of the first thirteen episodes of Season 3 wrapped. Lethal Weapon officially ended in February 2019, after three seasons.

Damon Wayans is returning with a new project at ABC and is reteaming with My Wife and Kids co-creator Don Reo on the new family comedy, Let's Stay Together (working title). The project, now in development, will be produced by ABC Studios, a division of Disney TV Studios.

Awards and honors

Wayans received four Emmy awards nominations for his acting and writing in In Living Color.

For his role in My Wife and Kids, he won the 2002 People's Choice Awards for Favorite Male Performer in a New TV Series, and received four International Press Academy "Golden Satellite Award" nominations.

Personal life

Wayans was married to Lisa Thorner; they divorced in 2000. He has four children with Thorner: sons Damon Wayans Jr. and Michael Wayans and daughters Cara Mia Wayans and Kyla Wayans. He is also a grandfather. He is the uncle of Damien Dante Wayans, Chaunté Wayans and Craig Wayans.

Wayans is a close personal friend of both NBA legend Michael Jordan and fellow In Living Color star Jim Carrey.

Wayans was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in January 2013.

In Living Color

Characters

  • Whiz (Homeboy Shopping Network)
  • Homey D. Clown
  • Blaine Edwards (Men on...)
  • Handi-Man
  • Reverend Ed Cash
  • Anton Jackson
  • Head Detective
  • Tom Brothers (w/Keenen Ivory Wayans)
  • Oswald Bates

Impressions

Filmography

Film

Year Title Role Notes
1984 Beverly Hills Cop Banana Man
1986 Triplecross Ornery Character No. 1 Television film
1987 Hollywood Shuffle Body Guard No. 2 / Willie
Roxanne Jerry
1988 Colors T-Bone
Earth Girls Are Easy Zeebo
Punchline Percy
I'm Gonna Git You Sucka Leonard
1990 Look Who's Talking Too Eddie Voice
1991 The Last Boy Scout Jimmy Alexander Dix
1992 Mo' Money Johnny Stewart
1993 Last Action Hero Himself
1994 Blankman Darryl Walker / Blankman
1995 Major Payne Major Benson Winefred Payne
1996 Celtic Pride Lewis Scott
The Great White Hype James 'The Grim Reaper' Roper
Bulletproof Detective Jack Carter / Rock Keats
1999 Harlem Aria Wes
Goosed Dr. Steven Hemel
2000 Bamboozled Pierre Delacroix
2003 Marci X Dr. S.
2004 Behind the Smile Charlie Richman
2006 Farce of the Penguins Hey, That's My ... Penguin Voice
Legends Bells Himself Television film
2008 Never Better Keith Television film
2011 Herd Mentality Jimmy Crowder Short
2023 Cinnamon Wally

Television

Year Title Role Notes
1985–86 Saturday Night Live Himself/Various Characters Main cast: Season 11
1987 Sweet Surrender Ray Episode: "The Holdens Go to Dinner"
A Different World Marvin Haven Episode: "War of the Words"
1989 One Night Stand Himself Episode: "Damon Wayans"
1990–93 In Living Color Himself/Various Characters Main cast (seasons 1–3); recurring guest star (season 4)
1998 Damon Damon Thomas Main cast
2001–05 My Wife and Kids Michael Kyle Main cast
2006 The Underground Himself/Various Characters Main cast
2011 Happy Endings Francis Williams Episode: "Like Father, Like Gun"
2016–19 Lethal Weapon Roger Murtaugh Main cast
2018 Happy Together Mike Davis Episode: "Like Father, Like Son"
2021 Live in Front of a Studio Audience Willis Drummond Episode: "Diff'rent Strokes and The Facts of Life"
2023 Poppa's House Upcoming Series; Lead Role

Documentary

Year Title
2009 Why We Laugh: Black Comedians on Black Comedy

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Damon Wayans para niños

Black History Month on Kiddle
Famous African-American Inventors:
George Robert Carruthers
Patricia Bath
Jan Ernst Matzeliger
Alexander Miles
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