Adam Richard Sandler (born September 9, 1966) is an American actor, comedian, singer, screenwriter, and film producer. He was a cast member on Saturday Night Live from 1990 to 1995, before going on to star in many Hollywood films, which have combined to earn more than $2 billion at the box office. Sandler had an estimated net worth of $420 million in 2020, and signed a further four-movie deal with Netflix worth over $250 million.
Sandler’s comedic roles include Billy Madison (1995), Happy Gilmore (1996), The Waterboy (1998), The Wedding Singer (1998), Big Daddy (1999), Mr. Deeds (2002), 50 First Dates (2004), The Longest Yard (2005), Click (2006), Grown Ups (2010), Just Go with It (2011), Grown Ups 2 (2013), Blended (2014), Murder Mystery (2019) and Hubie Halloween (2020). He also voices Dracula in the Hotel Transylvania franchise (2012–18).
Some of his films, mainly comedy films such as Jack and Jill (2011), have been widely panned, and Sandler is the holder of nine Golden Raspberry Awards and 37 Raspberry Award nominations, more than any other actor but Sylvester Stallone. Conversely, he has earned praise for his dramatic performances in the dramedy films Spanglish (2004), Reign Over Me (2007), Funny People (2009), and the auteur driven films such as Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch-Drunk Love (2002), Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories (2017), and the Safdie brothers’ Uncut Gems (2019).
Sandler was born in Brooklyn, New York, on September 9, 1966, to Judith “Judy” (née Levine), a nursery school teacher, and Stanley Sandler, an electrical engineer. His family is Jewish and descends from Russian-Jewish immigrants on both sides. Sandler grew up in Manchester, New Hampshire, after moving there at the age of six. He attended Manchester Central High School. As a teen, Sandler was in BBYO, a Jewish youth group. Sandler graduated from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in 1988.
Early in his career, in 1987, Sandler played Theo Huxtable’s friend, Smitty, in The Cosby Show and the Stud Boy or Trivia Delinquent in the MTV game show Remote Control. After his film debut Going Overboard in 1989, Sandler performed in comedy clubs, having first taken the stage at his brother’s urging when he was 17. He was discovered by comedian Dennis Miller, who caught Sandler’s act in Los Angeles and recommended him to Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels. Sandler was hired as a writer for SNL in 1990 and became a featured player the following year, making a name for himself by performing amusing original songs on the show, including “The Thanksgiving Song” and “The Chanukah Song”. Sandler told Conan O’Brien on The Tonight Show that NBC fired him and Chris Farley from the show in 1995, and played this up in his return to the show as a host in 2019.
In 1993, Adam Sandler appeared in the film Coneheads with Chris Farley, David Spade, Dan Aykroyd, Phil Hartman, and Jane Curtin. In 1994, he co-starred in Airheads with Brendan Fraser and Steve Buscemi.
Sandler starred in Billy Madison (1995) playing a grown man repeating grades 1–12 to earn back his father’s respect and the right to inherit his father’s multimillion-dollar hotel empire. The film was successful at the box office despite negative reviews. He followed this film with Bulletproof (1996), and the financially successful comedies Happy Gilmore (1996) and The Wedding Singer (1998). He was initially cast in the bachelor–party–themed comedy/thriller Very Bad Things (1998) but had to back out due to his involvement in The Waterboy (1998), one of his first hits.
Sandler formed his film production company, Happy Madison Productions, in 1999, first producing fellow SNL alumnus Rob Schneider’s film Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo. The company has produced most of Sandler’s subsequent films to date, and is located on the Sony/Columbia Pictures lot in Culver City, California. The majority of the company’s films have received negative reviews from critics, with three considered to be among the worst ever made yet most have performed well at the box office. Others who frequently appear in Sandler films include David Spade, Kevin James, Steve Buscemi, Chris Rock, John Turturro, Peter Dante, Allen Covert, Jonathan Loughran, and Jon Lovitz.
Although his earliest films did not receive favorable critical attention, he started to receive more positive reviews, beginning with Punch-Drunk Love in 2002. Roger Ebert’s review of Punch-Drunk Love concluded that Sandler had been wasted in earlier films with poorly written scripts and characters with no development. Sandler has moved outside the genre of slapstick comedy to take on more serious roles, such as the aforementioned Punch-Drunk Love, for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe, and Mike Binder’s Reign Over Me (2007), a drama about a man who loses his entire family during the September 11 attacks, and then struggles to rekindle a friendship with his old college roommate (Don Cheadle).
Sandler starred alongside friend Kevin James in the film I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry (2007), and headlined You Don’t Mess with the Zohan (2008). The latter film was written by Sandler, Judd Apatow, and Robert Smigel, and directed by Dennis Dugan. That same year, Sandler starred along with Keri Russell and English comedian Russell Brand in Adam Shankman’s children’s fantasy film Bedtime Stories (2008), as a stressed hotel maintenance worker whose bedtime stories he reads to his niece and nephew begin to come true. It marked as Sandler’s first family film and first film under the Disney banner.
In 2009, Sandler starred in Judd Apatow’s third directorial feature Funny People, a comedy-drama about a famous comedian (Sandler) with a terminal illness. The film was released on July 31, 2009. Following the release of Funny People, it, along with Punch-Drunk Love were cited in the June 2010 announcement that Sandler was one of 135 people (including 20 actors) invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Sandler appeared in Grown Ups, alongside Kevin James, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider, and David Spade. Sandler and Dickie Roberts scribe Fred Wolf wrote the script and Dennis Dugan directed the film. Sandler’s recent comedy films, including Grown Ups and Grown Ups 2, have received strongly negative reviews. In reviewing the latter, critic Mark Olsen of the Los Angeles Times remarked that Sandler had become the antithesis of Judd Apatow; he was instead “the white Tyler Perry: smart enough to know better, savvy enough to do it anyway, lazy enough not to care.” The following year, Sandler starred with Jennifer Aniston in the 2011 romantic comedy film Just Go with It. Sandler also voiced a capuchin monkey in Kevin James’s Zookeeper, released on July 8, 2011. In 2012, he starred in That’s My Boy, as a man who fathered a son (Andy Samberg) with his teacher portrayed by Eva Amurri, in high school. In 2013, he guest starred in the Disney Channel Original Series Jessie as himself in the episode entitled “Punched Dumped Love”. Sandler’s later film Hubie Halloween was dedicated to Boyce’s memory. He and Cameron Boyce previously worked together in Grown Ups and Grown Ups 2. Sandler next reunited with Drew Barrymore in the Warner Bros. romantic comedy Blended, which was filmed in South Africa, and was released on May 23, 2014.
In October 2014, Netflix announced a four-movie deal with Adam Sandler and Happy Madison Productions. Sandler co-starred in the drama film Men, Women & Children (2014), directed by Jason Reitman. He was considered for the voice of Rocket Raccoon in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy but Bradley Cooper was cast instead.
In 2015, Sandler released his last theatrical film Pixels, based on French director Patrick Jean’s 2010 short film of the same name, before transitioning into a distribution deal with Netflix. His first original film for Netflix was the Western comedy film The Ridiculous 6. Despite being universally panned by critics, on January 6, 2016, it was announced by Netflix that the film had been viewed more times in 30 days than any other movie in Netflix history. He released three additional films on Netflix between 2016 and 2018: The Do-Over (2016), Sandy Wexler (2017), The Week Of (2018) and Murder Mystery (2019).
He returned to dramatic territory in 2017 with Noah Baumbach’s family drama The Meyerowitz Stories. In the film Sandler plays Danny Meyerowitz, who is unemployed and separated from his wife. His experiencing dysfunctional relationships with his brother play by Ben Stiller, his sister (Elizabeth Marvel), and his father portrayed by Dustin Hoffman. The film premiered in competition for the Palme d’Or at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival where his performance received favorable notices from critics. Peter Debruge, film critic for Variety wrote of his performance that, “With no shtick to fall back on, Sandler is forced to act, and it’s a glorious thing to watch”.
On May 4, 2019, Sandler made his first appearance as host of Saturday Night Live, ending the episode with a tribute to his friend and fellow former cast member Chris Farley. Sandler received a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series nomination for his hosting stint.
In December 2019, Sandler starred in the crime thriller drama Uncut Gems, directed by the Safdie brothers. The movie and Sandler’s acting received critical acclaim and many end of year awards from critics, who noted this role as a career best for Sandler.
In January 2020, Netflix announced a new four-movie deal with Happy Madison Productions worth up to $275 million.
Sandler has been referenced multiple times in various media, including in the TV shows The Simpsons in the episode “Monty Can’t Buy Me Love”, in Family Guy in the episode “Stew-Roids”, and in South Park in the episode “You’re Getting Old”. He was also referenced in the video game Half-Life: Opposing Force. The HBO series Animals episode “The Trial” features a mock court case to decide whether Sandler or Jim Carrey is a better comedian.
Sandler has been married to Jacqueline “Jackie” Sandler (née Titone) since June 2003. She had converted to Sandler’s religion, Judaism. The couple have two daughters, Sadie (born May 2006) and Sunny (born November 2008). Sandler’s wife and children often appear in his films.
In 2007, Sandler made a $1 million donation to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America in his hometown, Manchester, New Hampshire.
This is a partial list of Sandler’s film and television work. For the complete list, see Adam Sandler filmography.
- Going Overboard (1989)
- Saturday Night Live (1990–1995)
- Coneheads (1993)
- Airheads (1994)
- Billy Madison (1995)
- Happy Gilmore (1996)
- The Wedding Singer (1998)
- The Waterboy (1998)
- Big Daddy (1999)
- Little Nicky (2000)
- Punch-Drunk Love (2002)
- Mr. Deeds (2002)
- Anger Management (2003)
- 50 First Dates (2004)
- The Longest Yard (2005)
- Click (2006)
- Reign Over Me (2007)
- I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry (2007)
- You Don’t Mess with the Zohan (2008)
- Bedtime Stories (2008)
- Funny People (2009)
- Grown Ups (2010)
- Just Go with It (2011)
- Jack and Jill (2011)
- Hotel Transylvania (2012)
- Grown Ups 2 (2013)
- Blended (2014)
- Pixels (2015)
- Hotel Transylvania 2 (2015)
- The Ridiculous 6 (2015)
- The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)(2017)
|1993||They’re All Gonna Laugh at You!||2× Platinum|
|1996||What the Hell Happened to Me?||2× Platinum|
|1997||What’s Your Name?||Gold|
|1999||Stan and Judy’s Kid||Gold|
“The Peeper” was made into a flash cartoon, launched over the 1999 Labor Day weekend as a promotion for Stan and Judy’s Kid and was watched by over 1 million users during that period, one of the most-watched video clips on the internet at the time.
In 2009 Sandler contributed the Neil Young cover “Like a Hurricane” to Covered, A Revolution in Sound as part of Warner Brothers 50th Anniversary celebrations; the song was performed on the David Letterman Show with a band that included, among others, Waddy Wachtel, who has appeared with Sandler on a number of occasions.
Peak chart positions
|Title||Year||Hot100||Adult Pop||Mod. Rock||Certifications|
|“The Chanukah Song”||1996||80||28||25||RIAA: Gold|
|“The Thanksgiving Song”||1997||—||40||29|
Awards and nominations
Main article: List of awards and nominations received by Adam Sandler