Best-known for his surreal and digressive stand-up, British comedian and actor Eddie Izzard was born on February 7, 1962, in Aden, Yemen, where his English parents -- Dorothy Ella, a nurse and midwife, and Harold John Izzard, an accountant -- worked for British Petroleum.
Izzard worked as a street performer and in smaller comedy venues throughout the mid-to-late 1980s; his big break came when he appeared in Hysteria III, a 1991 AIDS fundraiser held at the London Palladium, and did his now-famous "Raised by wolves" sketch. After that, he drew bigger and bigger audiences, and in 1993 hired the Ambassadors Theatre in London's West End for the first of many successful one-man shows. With Eddie Izzard: Live at the Ambassadors (1993), he was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award (outstanding achievement) and won his first British Comedy Award for top stand-up comedian. He returned to the West End the next year with his second one-man show, Eddie Izzard: Unrepeatable (1994), and soon thereafter made his West End debut in a drama, as the lead in the world premiere of David Mamet's "The Cryptogram" with Lindsay Duncan; his success led to his second starring role, in "900 Oneonta".
Izzard appeared in 1995 as the title character in Christopher Marlowe's groundbreaking "Edward II". In 1996, he made his big-screen debut alongside Bob Hoskins and Robin Williams in The Secret Agent (1996); he also staged another one-man show, Eddie Izzard: Definite Article (1996), for which he received his second British Comedy Award. He then took "Definite Article" to major cities outside the UK, including New York, and returned to the West End with a new show, Eddie Izzard: Glorious (1997), which included a month in New York City at PS122.
In 1998, Izzard appeared in another film, Velvet Goldmine (1998), with Ewan McGregor, and also staged his breakthrough one-man U.S. show, Eddie Izzard: Dress to Kill (1999) which aired on HBO and earned Izzard two Emmy Awards. Izzard next took on the challenge of appearing as Lenny Bruce in Peter Hall's West End production of "Lenny."
Izzard started 2000 touring the world with Eddie Izzard: Circle (2002) and continued to act in films, among them The Criminal (1999); Shadow of the Vampire (2000) with John Malkovich and Willem Dafoe; and Peter Bogdanovich's The Cat's Meow (2001), in which he played Charles Chaplin. He returned to the stage, in London and later in New York (his Broadway debut), with A Day in the Death of Joe Egg (2002), a version of which was televised.