Edward Harry “Eddie” Deezen is an American comedian, actor, and voice actor best known for his bit parts as nerd characters in 1970s and 1980s films such as Grease, Grease 2, Midnight Madness, 1941 and WarGames, as well as for larger and starring roles in a number of independent cult films, including Surf II: The End of the Trilogy, Mob Boss, I Wanna Hold Your Hand, Beverly Hills Vamp and Teenage Exorcist.
As a voice actor, he is easily recognizable for his distinctively high-pitched and nasal voice, most notably used for the characters of Mandark in the Cartoon Network series Dexter’s Laboratory, Snipes the Magpie in Rock-A-Doodle, Ned in Kim Possible and the Know-It-All in The Polar Express.
Born in Cumberland, Maryland the son of Irma and Robert Deezen, Deezen started out with aspirations of becoming a stand-up comedian, moving out to Hollywood within days of graduating high school in order to pursue a career. As a comedian, he performed at least three times at The Comedy Store, though eventually decided to abandon stand-up and focus on acting after bombing his last act and having difficulty memorizing his routine. Deezen attempted stand-up one last time, however, when he appeared on an episode of The Gong Show in the mid-1970s, only to be gonged by singer-songwriter Paul Williams.
Deezen landed his first and perhaps best known role in the film Grease, playing nerdy student Eugene Felsnic, a part he won through a standard audition process. During Grease’s post-production period, Deezen won another small role playing a bully in the low-budget independent science fiction movie Laserblast. Despite being his second film, Laserblast marked Deezen’s screen debut when it was released in March 1978, three months before the theatrical release of Grease.
Following the massive success of Grease, Deezen found himself being cast in a string of high-profile comedy films playing similarly nerdy characters, including Robert Zemeckis’ directorial debut I Wanna Hold Your Hand and Steven Spielberg’s 1979 epic comedy 1941. Deezen was in such demand by 1979 that he was constantly having to turn down roles, including the characters of Eaglebauer in Rock ‘n’ Roll High School, and Spaz in Meatballs, both of which Deezen turned down in order to film 1941.
Throughout the early 1980s, Deezen perpetuated his trademark nerd persona in several major films, including WarGames, Zapped! and Disney’s Midnight Madness, as well as returning to the role of Eugene Felsnic in Grease 2, one of only seven actors from the original Grease to return for the sequel. In 1984, Deezen was cast in a recurring role on television, playing a goofy superintendent on the first season of Punky Brewster. After filming only eight episodes, however, Deezen voluntarily left the series due to his reluctance to perform before a live audience and a continuing difficulty in remembering his lines.
1983’s WarGames marked the final mainstream film of Deezen’s live-action acting career as he began working exclusively in independent film for the remainder of the 1980s, starting with his first starring role in the 1984 cult comedy Surf II: The End of the Trilogy, where he played the movie’s antagonist, mad scientist Menlo Schwartzer.
Deezen worked steadily throughout the remainder of the 1980s and early 1990s, continuing to play nerds in both bit parts and major roles, including the ensemble comedy Million Dollar Mystery, Critters 2: The Main Course, The Whoopee Boys and The Silence of the Hams. He worked several times alongside comedian Tim Conway, most notably appearing in two of his Dorf videos, and struck up a partnership with prolific low-budget filmmaker and producer Fred Olen Ray, who gave Deezen leading roles with the films Beverly Hills Vamp, Mob Boss and Teenage Exorcist.
Following his cameo appearance as a security guard in the 1996 Leslie Nielsen spoof Spy Hard, Deezen wouldn’t appear in a live-action film for another 17 years. In 2012, Deezen starred in a live-action comedic short film entitled I Love You, Eddie Deezen. The plot revolves around a nerdy woman’s cross-country journey to find the man of her dreams: Eddie Deezen. The following year, Deezen returned to live-action movies in Fred Olen Ray’s television film All I Want for Christmas, making a cameo as a supposed A-list action movie star being interviewed on a daytime talk show.
In the mid-1980s, Deezen transitioned into voice acting, a change of pace he favored due to better pay and not needing to memorize dialogue. He started out lending his voice to animated feature films, including the voice of Donnie Dodo in Sesame Street Presents Follow That Bird and Snipes the Magpie in Don Bluth’s 1991 film Rock-A-Doodle. According to a 2011 interview, Deezen unsuccessfully auditioned for the role of the title character in Robert Zemeckis’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, losing out to comedian Charles Fleischer.
Deezen eventually found full-time voice work on television in the mid-1990s, playing recurring characters on the animated series Grimmy, Duckman, Kim Possible and What’s New, Scooby-Doo?, as well as guest spots on many others, including Johnny Bravo, Recess and Darkwing Duck. His best-known voice-over character, however, is that of Mandark, the nemesis of the eponymous Dexter on Cartoon Network’s Dexter’s Laboratory, a role he played for the series’ entire run from 1996–2003. Deezen also voiced the character on the TV special Dexter’s Laboratory: Ego Trip and the video games Cartoon Network Racing and FusionFall.
In 2004, Deezen returned to the big screen once again under the direction of Robert Zemeckis to supply voice and motion capture performance for the blockbuster holiday filmThe Polar Express, playing the role of the nerdy “Know-It-All”. He reprised this role for the subsequent video game.
Deezen is a huge fan of The Beatles, proclaiming himself to be their “biggest fan.” Deezen is also a pop culture trivia buff, and since 2011 has been a contributing writer to several trivia websites including mental floss, TodayIFoundOut.com and Neatorama.com. While most of Deezen’s articles pertain to The Beatles and their members, he also regularly writes about such subjects as baseball, American history and classic comedy acts like The Three Stooges, the Marx Brothers and Martin and Lewis.
Today, Eddie resides in Maryland.