When people think of the best comedic actors of the modern generation, for some reason their minds go straight to Adam Sandler, Jim Carrey or even Jerry Seinfeld, but they certainly shouldn’t discount Kevin James, the rotund actor with the happy face that has certainly been making people laugh for a good number of years now. From his slapstick styling in movies such as ‘Zoo Keeper’ or the more everyday humor that he delivered alongside Jerry Stiller in the hit sitcom ‘King Of Queens’ it is easy to see that Kevin James knows what makes people laugh.
Kevin James’ actual name is Kevin George Knipfing and he was born on the April 26, 1965, in Mineola, N.Y. His father, Joseph Knipfing Jnr., owned an insurance agency and his mother, Janet, worked in a chiropractor’s office.
While attending Ward Melville High School, it wasn’t comedy that kept James busy, instead it was sport. He was on the High School’s football and wrestling teams and, upon graduation in 1983, went to the State University of New York in Cortland where he majored in Sports Management. However, he never completed his studies and instead returned home and on a whim joined a community theater group where he was soon cast in a comedy. Liking the reaction he got from the audience during his ‘funny’ parts, he decided to join his brother’s (better known as comedian Gary Valentine) improvisation group.
This soon resulted in James becoming part of the stand-up comedy circuit and during a extremely hard working eleven year stint, he became friends with another young comic, Ray Ramano. Soon James found himself being noticed with appearances on ‘Star Search’ and ‘The Tonight Show with Jay Leno’ while he was also the talk-of-the-town during the 1996 ‘Just For Laughs’ at the Montreal Comedy Festival.
In 1996, Ray Ramano became the star of this own sitcom, ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’, and had James appear on the show as ‘one of his friends’. He was soon approached about his character, the lowly delivery guy named Doug Heffernan, having his own sitcom and hence the ‘King Of Queens’ was born in 1998. So properly was the character of Doug that he not only appeared in ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ but also in ‘Cosby’ and the Ted Danson led ‘Becker’.
‘King Of Queens’ remained on air from 1998-2007, during which time Kevin James appeared in other television shows including ‘Martial Law’ and ‘Arli$$’ and made his big screen debut with roles in ’50 First Dates’, ‘Hitch’ and ‘Grilled’. He also showed a skill at being a talented voice actor and found himself voicing characters in ‘Pinocchio’, ‘Monster House’ and ‘Barnyard’.
Since ‘King Of Queens’ ended in 2007, James has appeared in a string of comedy blockbuster hits including ‘I Know Pronounce You Chuck & Larry’, ‘You Don’t Mess With The Zohan’, ‘Paul Blart: Mall Cop’, ‘Grown Ups’, ‘The Dilemma’, ‘Zookeeper’ and ‘Here Comes The Boom’. He also kept his voice-acting career alive by voicing the character of Frankenstein in his good friend Adam Sandler’s film ‘Hotel Transylvania’.
Over the years James has been an actor who has managed to keep his private life off the main pages of the tabloid magazines but he is well known as a sports fan who eagerly follows the UFC, the New York Knicks, the New York Jets and the New York Mets. He is a practicing Catholic and on June 19, 2004 married actress Steffiana de la Cruz (who has appeared in ‘King Of Queens’, ‘Paul Blart: Mall Cop’ and ‘Zookeeper’ alongside James) and they have three children together – Sienna-Marie (born in 2005), Shea Joelle (born in 2007 and named after Shea Stadium) and Kannon Valentine (born in 2011).
Fans of Kevin James are blessed every day with re-runs of ‘King Of Queens’ screening daily right around the world and they will soon get to see their comedic hero back on the big screen with Adam Sandler in the eagerly anticipated ‘Grown Ups 2’ and then with Emily Watson in the serious ‘Little Boy’ and the forthcoming ‘Valet Guys’.