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BILL IRWIN Biography

Bill Irwin was born 11 April 1950, in Santa Monica, California, the oldest of three children born to Horace and Elizabeth Irwin. He was raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Southern California. He spent a year in Belfast, Northern Ireland, as an exchange student. He is a graduate in theatre arts from Oberlin College, OH and a graduate of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey's Clown College, FL. Mr. Irwin met his wife, Martha Roth, actress-turned-nurse midwife, when he went to her for treatment of a stiff neck. Their son, Santos Patrick Morales Irwin, was born in 1991.

Bill was an original member of Kraken, a theatre company directed by Herbert Blau, and was also an original member of the Pickle Family Circus of San Francisco where he worked with Larry Pisoni and Geoff Hoyle. He has appeared as a guest artist with the ODC Dance Company of San Francisco, which first produced his original work. His own pieces, often produced with Doug Skinner and Michael O'Connor, include "Not Quite / New York" , "The Courtroom" and "The Regard of Flight" (PBS, Great Performances). Skinner, Irwin and O'Connor have performed "The Regard of Flight" on and off Broadway, across the U.S. and in Sydney, Australia. "Largely New York", Irwin's original work, was developed at The Seattle Repertory Theater City Center and The Kennedy Center, ran on Broadway, and received five Tony nominations as well as Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, and New York Dance and Performance awards.

Mr. Irwin performed "Fool Moon" with David Shiner and the Red Clay Ramblers on Broadway, in Los Angeles, Seattle, Vienna and Munich.

He appeared at the Public Theater in Beckett's "Texts for Nothing" directed by Joe Chaikin, and as Trinculo in "The Tempest " with Patrick Stewart, directed by George Wolfe (1995), also in "Waiting for Godot" at Lincoln Center with Steve Martin, Robin Williams, and F. Murray Abraham. He adapted, directed, and starred in "Scapin" at The Roundabout Theatre in NYC from Dec 1996 to Mar 1997.

At La Jolla Playhouse, he played Galy Gay in Brecht's "A Man's a Man", Medvedenko in "The Sea Gull", and Arlecchino in "Three Cuckholds". He appeared on Broadway in "Accidental Death of an Anarchist" with Jonathan Pryce; "5-6-7-8- . . . Dance!" with Sandy Duncan; and in Philadelphia in "Strike Up the Band". with Steve Martin, Robin Williams and F. Murray Abraham.

Bill Irwin has starred in many other Broadway, Off-Broadway, and regional productions, including: "The Goat or Who is Sylvia" opposite Sally Field; "Accidental Death of An Anarchist"; "5-6-7-8 Dance!"; "Waiting For Godot"; "Scapin"; "The Tempest"; "Garden of Earthly Delights"; "Texts for Nothing", and many others.

Bill starred on Broadway and London's West End in the revival of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf", for which he won the 2005 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play. The production had a national tour in 2007. His 2007 theater piece "The Happiness Lecture" was commissioned by and staged for the Philadelphia Theater Company.

On TV, he has appeared on "Saturday Night Live," "The Tonight Show," "The Cosby Show," "3rd Rock From the Sun", "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation", "Life on Mars" (US), "Law & Order; SVU", HBO's "Bette Midler, Mondo Beyondo," CBS's "Northern Exposure," PBS's "Great Performances" and, with great pride, on "Sesame Street" in one of his most famous roles, Mr. Noodle. In Britain, he appeared on BBC's "Paul Daniels Magic Show." Irwin has also appeared in many film and television productions, including the PBS Great Performances telecasts "Bill Irwin Clown Prince" and "The Regard of Flight".

In his film work, prior to Rachel Getting Married, Irwin appeared in such films as: Popeye, Eight Men Out, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Igby Goes Down, Lady in the Water, Dark Matter, Raving, Across The Universe and others.

Irwin has won many awards, including a National Endowment for the Arts Choreographer's Fellowship, and Guggenheim, Fulbright and MacArthur Fellowships. He gratefully acknowledges these awards.

(last updated Feb 2009)