Chris Rock Biography

(Ranked No. 5 on Rolling Stone's List of the 50 Best Stand-Up Comics of All Time)

Birthday: February 7, 1965 (Aquarius)

Born In: Andrews, South Carolina, United States

Chris Rock is an American standup comedian, actor, director, producer, singer, and writer. He started his professional career as a standup comedian at age of nineteen, by performing in numerous small nightclubs in New York City. Chris caught the eye of the legendary American comedian and actor, Eddie Murphy while he was presenting his act at a nightspot. Murphy offered Rock his debut movie role in the movie ‘Beverly Hills Cop II’. However, he received his first major break when he was picked up as a member of the cast for the comedy series, ‘Saturday Night Live’. His career began to mirror versatility as he took to expanding his repertoire by penning the script for the film ‘CB4’ and featuring in his opening HBO series, ‘Big Ass Jokes.’ He received much publicity for his role as a commentator for Comedy Central's talk show ‘Politically Incorrect’ during the 1996 Presidential elections. His popularity and fame as an extraordinary standup performer peaked following appearances in a string of successful HBO comedy specials. Shortly after, his reputation began to fade and in order to revive his flagging career, he went back to delivering acts in small nightclubs covering controversial subjects such as race relations. He came back with a bang by bagging significant roles in TV serials and movies.

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Quick Facts

Also Known As: Christopher Julius Rock

Age: 59 Years, 59 Year Old Males

Family:

Spouse/Ex-: Malaak Compton Rock (m. 1996–2016)

father: Julius Rock

mother: Rosalie Rock

siblings: Andi Rock, Andre Rock, Brian Rock, Charles Rock, Jordan Rock, Kenny Rock, Tony Rock

children: Lola Simone Rock, Zahra Savannah Rock

Born Country: United States

African American Actors Saturday Night Live Cast

Height: 5'10" (178 cm), 5'10" Males

U.S. State: South Carolina, African-American From South Carolina

Ancestry: Cameroonian American

Childhood and Early Life

Chris Rock was born on February 7, 1965, in Andrews Town of South Carolina, His family later relocated to Brooklyn in New York City before shifting to Bedford-Stuyvesant, a working-class locality in Brooklyn, and settled in that neighborhood.

His father, Christopher Julius Rock II, worked as a newspaper deliverer and truck driver while his mother, Rose Rock, was employed as a teacher in a school for the mentally challenged. Chris Rock has 3 brothers, Jordan, Kenny, and Tony, with him being the eldest among the siblings.

All his three brothers followed him to pursue careers in the entertainment industry. His father succumbed to an ulcer in 1988. He also had an older stepbrother, Charles who passed away in 2006, following an extended struggle with dipsomania.

Chris has admitted that Allen Rock, his paternal grandfather, a parson by profession had a great influence on his comedy style. His grandfather moved to New York City from South Carolina in the 40s, working as a preacher and cabbie.

Since Brooklyn’s neighborhoods were dominated by white people who made up the bulk of the populace, Chris Rock had to put up with scathing racial discrimination because of his skin color. He remembers going to James Madison High School in a separate bus that exclusively ferried black students.

He was regularly beaten up and persecuted by white students and the oppression intensified over the years. Eventually, he stopped attending high school for good but nevertheless, he received a GED (general education diploma) certification. His bitter experience with racism and bigotry during his school years had a sweeping influence on his career as a comedian.

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Career as a Standup Comedian

After dropping out of school, Chris Rock did odd jobs at several fast-food joints and cafeterias to make ends meet. He laid the foundations of his career as a standup comedian in 1984, by performing in the nightclubs and comedy clubs of New York City, including at ‘Catch a Rising Star’.

Many celebrated humorists and satirists, including the likes of Eddie Murphy, Adam Sandler, Billy Crystal, and Jerry Seinfeld had honed their skills at ‘Catch a Rising Star’. For a brief period, Chris Rock cleaned tables at the oldest comedy club in NYC, ‘The Comic Strip Live’ in order to get some extra onstage time.

Rock, slowly and gradually inched his way upwards, through the rank and file of New York City’s comedic industry. His initial success and fame helped him to land small parts in movies including ‘Krush Groove’, ‘Comedy’s Dirtiest Dozen’ and ‘I’m Gonna Git You Sucka’ as well as TV shows like ‘Miami Vice’ and ‘Uptown Comedy Express’.

Eddie Murphy, acclaimed comedian, and actor spotted Chris while he was performing at ‘The Comic Strip’. Impressed by his performance, Murphy offered him the part of ‘playboy mansion valet’ in the 1987 film ‘Beverly Hills Cop II’ which was his debut movie role.

In 1990, he was selected to host ‘Saturday Night Live’ (SNL) the hugely popular comedy series that put him on par with other newly recruited cast members like Adam Sandler, David Spade, Rob Schneider, and Chris Farley. In the following year, he came up with his first comedy record titled ‘Born Suspect’.

He hosted a total of 59 episodes of ‘Saturday Night Live’ from 1990-93, and in these three years, he earned nationwide fame and recognition as a comedian. His striking and evocative portrayal of ‘Pookie’ a cocaine addict in the movie, ‘New Jack City’ was also lauded by his fans and film critics.

Chris was quietly planning to quit SNL following the end of the 18th season of the show but he was laid off and dropped unceremoniously much before the season came to an end.

He was featured as a guest actor in a total of 6 episodes in the fifth season of the sketch comedy television series; ‘In Living Color’ but the serial’s broadcasting was discontinued shortly after. In 1993, he wrote and co-produced the comedy film, ‘CB4’ as well as played a double role in the movie.

’CB4,’ which was made on a shoestring budget, performed well at the box office, earning revenues nearly three times its total budget. Chris went on to appear in a string of comedy specials endorsed by HBO from 1994 to 2008, which brought him unprecedented success and made him a household name in the entertainment industry.

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He first appeared in the HBO-sponsored comedy special, ‘Big Ass Jokes’ in 1994, followed by the special ‘Bring the Pain’ in 1996. His poignant performance in ‘Bring the Pain’ merited him two Emmy awards and firmly established him as one of the most accomplished satirists in the US comedic circuit.

His popularity received a massive boost when he was chosen as a commentator for the late-night political talk show, ‘Politically Incorrect’, to review the 1996 Presidential elections. He lent his voice to a puppet named ‘Lil Penny’ that featured in advertisements for Nike shoes from 1994 to 1998.

Chris Rock starred in two of Time Warner’s HBO comedy specials, ‘Bigger & Blacker’ and ‘Never Scared’ in 1994 and 2004, respectively. His presentations in the comic specials were highly eulogized by mainstream American periodicals. He entrenched his credentials as a superlative comedian by hosting 37 episodes of ‘The Chris Rock Show’ from 1997-2000.

Chris had written the script for the episodes of ‘The Chris Rock Show’ as well as created and executive-produced the series. He interviewed eminent personalities in the episodes of the show, including popular statesmen, politicians, and film stars. He picked up a total of 15 nominations and three Emmy Awards for the program.

He released album formats of his acclaimed comedy specials, ‘Bigger & Blacker’, ‘Never Scared’, and ‘Roll with the New,’ and also released a book, ‘Rock This’ detailing his comedic performances. ‘Kill the Messenger’ his fifth and last comedy special for which he again won an Emmy, was broadcast on 27 September 2008.

Career as an Actor

Chris Rock’s stupendous success as a standup comedian towards the end of the 1990s helped him to bag crucial roles in feature films, many of which went on to become blockbusters. Initially, he played supporting parts in movies like ‘Beverly Hills Ninja’ (1997), ‘Lethal Weapon 4 (1998), ‘Nurse Betty’ (2000), Sgt Bilko (1996), and ‘The Immortals’ (1995).

Chris made his mark on the big screen by doing full justice to roles in movies such as ‘The Longest Yard’ (2005), ‘I Think I Love My Wife’ (2007), ‘Death at a Funeral’ (2010), ‘Grown Ups’ (2010), and ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’ (2012).

Chris Rock also went behind the scenes, demonstrating his skills as a scriptwriter, director, and voiceover actor. He has shared screen space with several celebrated Hollywood actors and actresses, including but not limited to Anthony Hopkins, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Renee Zellweger, and Salma Hayek.

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Career as a Stage Actor

Rock made his Broadway debut in 2011, performing standup acts in the play, ‘The Motherfucker with the Hat’ which won him a Drama League Award nomination.

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Career as a Singer

Chris Rock has recorded and released five comedy albums in his career so far including ‘Born Suspect’ (1991), ‘Roll with the New’ (1997), ‘Bigger & Blacker’ (1999), ‘Never Scared’ (2005), and ‘Tamborine’ (2018). He also created music videos for some songs included in the abovementioned albums. Additionally, he appeared as a cameo in music footage of other artists.

Career as a Television Producer

Chris Rock was the chronicler and executive producer of the comedy series, ‘Everybody Hates Chris’ which broadly depicted his harrowing school days. The series broadcasted by UPN Television from 2005 to 2009 received rare reviews and several prestigious nominations including Emmy Awards, People’s Choice Award, and Golden Globe.

Everybody Hates Chris’ was a parodied take of the popular sitcom series, ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’.

Academy Awards Controversy

Rock emceed the 77th and 88th Academy Awards ceremonies in 2005 and 2015, respectively and on both occasions garnered criticism for his controversial comments and diatribes. During the 77th Academy Awards event, he lampooned budding and veteran actors like Jude Law, Tom Cruise, and Denzel Washington.

Rock joked about Will Smith's wife,  Jada Pinkett Smith's balding condition during the 94th Academy Awards in March 2022. This resulted in Smith walking on the stage and slapping Rock. 

Personal Life

Chris Rock married Malaak Compton in 1996 and split up in 2016. In December 2014, he filed for divorce from Malaak Compton-Rock. The divorce was finalized in 2016. The couple has two daughters, Lola and Zahra. 

In 2016, he began dating Megalyn Echikunwoke, but they reportedly split up after four years.

Rock started dating television actress Lake Bell in July 2022.

Chris Rock Movies

1. Chris Rock: Never Scared (2004)

  (Documentary, Comedy)

2. Chris Rock: Bring the Pain (1996)

  (Documentary, Comedy)

3. Chris Rock: Bigger & Blacker (1999)

  (Documentary, Comedy)

4. Chris Rock: Kill the Messenger - London, New York, Johannesburg (2008)

  (Documentary, Comedy)

5. Dolemite Is My Name (2019)

  (Biography, Comedy, Drama)

6. Dogma (1999)

  (Comedy, Adventure, Fantasy, Drama)

7. Artificial Intelligence: AI (2001)

  (Drama, Sci-Fi, Adventure)

8. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001)

  (Comedy)

9. Good Hair (2009)

  (Documentary, Comedy)

10. Krush Groove (1985)

  (Drama, Comedy, Music)

Awards

Primetime Emmy Awards
2009 Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Special Chris Rock: Kill the Messenger - London, New York, Johannesburg (2008)
1999 Outstanding Writing for a Variety or Music Program The Chris Rock Show (1997)
1997 Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Special Chris Rock: Bring the Pain (1996)
1997 Outstanding Writing for a Variety or Music Program Chris Rock: Bring the Pain (1996)
Grammy Awards
2006 Best Comedy Album Winner
2004 Best Comedy Album Winner
2000 Best Spoken Comedy Album Winner
1998 Best Spoken Comedy Album Winner

See the events in life of Chris Rock in Chronological Order

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