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Michael Richards: The Wildly Entertaining Cosmo Kramer

Before diving into the whirlwind career of Michael Richards, here‘s a quick look at the man in numbers:

Michael Richards Profile

Full Name: Michael Anthony Richards
Birthday: July 24, 1949 (age 73)
Born: Culver City, California, United States
Height: 6‘ 3" (1.91 m)
Relationship Status: Married (Beth Skipp)
Net Worth: $45 million
Social Media: Twitter, Instagram

Michael Richards burst onto the entertainment scene as the lovably zany Cosmo Kramer on Seinfeld. But before he became a household name, Richards paid his dues on the standup circuit and in bit TV parts.

Born in California in 1949, he grew up with a passion for performing. After college, Richards dove right into comedy – taking improv classes at The Groundlings theater and trying his hand at standup in LA clubs. Though he struggled at first, his persistence paid off when he landed a career-changing role on Seinfeld.

The Making of a Comedy Icon

Long before his Kramer days, Richards worked to hone his talents as a physical comedian. At The Groundlings, he learned how to own the stage through fearless improvisation and exaggerated expressions. As a standup in the 70s and 80s, he refined his act at places like The Improv and Comedy Store.

Though he scored some small TV and film roles early on, Richards struggled to translate his brand of comedy to the screen. His dynamism was best experienced up close and personal. But his big break was just around the corner…

The Role He Was Born to Play

In 1989, Richards joined the cast of a new sitcom called The Seinfeld Chronicles. As the eccentric next door neighbor Cosmo Kramer, he was an instant scene-stealer. His command of physical comedy was perfectly suited to the fumbling, bursting-through-doors character.

Kramer‘s energy balanced out the others‘ low-key New York neuroses. With his trademark "woo!" and bursts through Jerry‘s apartment door, Kramer electrified every scene. Richards ultimately won three Emmys for his riotous performance.

For many fans, Richards and Kramer are one and the same. But he has proven to have some dramatic chops as well with emotional roles in shows like Freaks and Geeks. Still, it‘s the pure comedic mastery of Kramer that he‘ll always be remembered for.

Weathering Controversy with Humility

Richards‘ public image took a hit in 2006 when a provocative heckler led him to unleash a racist tirade during a standup set. The videos went viral and Richards faced major backlash.

He quickly issued an apology on Letterman, acknowledging his words were purely reactionary and deplorable. Rather than blame the incident on anger issues, Richards chose to listen, learn, and reflect during this period.

His graceful handling of the matter showed maturity and humility. And over time, fans seemed to forgive this one blemish on an otherwise sterling reputation.

The Magic Behind the Mania

So how did Richards bring such a larger-than-life character like Cosmo Kramer to life? Here are a few fun facts that reveal his process:

  • Richards has said he was inspired by his own eccentric, energetic relatives to create Kramer‘s distinct persona.
  • He perfected Kramer‘s pratfalls by studying footage of physical comedians like Harpo Marx and Lou Costello.
  • Kramer‘s signature "woo!" was improvised by Richards during an early episode. The directors loved it so much they kept it as his official entrance line.
  • Jerry Seinfeld claims Richards was the most "method" of the cast – immersing himself fully in character during rehearsals and tapings.

Lasting Legacy of Laughter

Few sitcom characters have made as much of a cultural impact as Cosmo Kramer. With his eccentricities, relentless energy, and slapstick hijinks, Kramer became the unpredictable spice that flavored Seinfeld‘s unique comedy stew.

And for his creation of this iconic role, Michael Richards has cemented his place in TV history. His enduring legacy is a testament to the power of commitment, creativity, and comedic craft. Thanks to reruns, the magic of Richards‘ Cosmo Kramer continues to entertain new generations of fans. That‘s an impact few performers ever achieve.