77 Trivia Tidbits About Eugene Levy on His 77th Birthday

Happy birthday, Eugene Levy
77 Trivia Tidbits About Eugene Levy on His 77th Birthday

He came to prominence performing in the mockumentary comedies of Christopher Guest. He’s one half of Canada’s most enduring on-screen comedy duos. He’s known for a very specific facial feature, and he knows more than most about the inner workings and mad politics of dog shows. It’s Eugene Levy’s birthday, and here are 77 facts about the now 77-year-old comedy legend…

On Those Fabulous Eyebrows


Best in Show, Warner Bros. Pictures

While Levy’s lush eyebrows clearly hold the secrets to the universe, he doesn’t think his bushy brow had anything to do with his rise to fame. “I try to keep them as trim as I can,” he told The Guardian when asked what part those trademark face trails played in his career. “They didn’t hinder or help my career, I don’t think. Nobody has ever asked me to hire a landscaper and take them down for any job.” .

He Was a Founding Member of ‘Second City Television’


Levy was another Canadian who got his start in improv at Second City, and he would become a founding member of SCTV alongside Rick Moranis, Catherine O’Hara and John Candy.

The ‘Best in Show’ Teeth Were His Idea


“I’d had this obsession about teeth,” he told The Ringer. “I wanted my teeth to be a bit larger, to create a character that you go, ‘Oh that poor guy.’”

Must Be a Prank


Levy has done a string of Christopher Guest films and also co-wrote some of them. Their very first film outing together was 1996’s Waiting for Guffman, and Levy said that he thought Guest was pranking him when the director first contacted him. “It wasn’t until quite recently that I found out he called me because he liked my work on SCTV,” Levy has said.

Born in Ontario


Levy was born in Hamilton, Ontario, to a Jewish family.

His Parents


His mom, Rebecca Kudlatz, was a homemaker and his father, Joseph Levy, was a foreman at an automobile plant.

A Born Leader


Levy attended Westdale Secondary School where he ended up becoming student council president.

He Was Considered to Play Michael Scott


In some alternate timeline, Dunder Mifflin’s secretary was being perved on by the man with the fluffy eye-fro. 

He’s Learned a Lot About Dog Shows


To develop Best in Show, Guest and Levy attended several regional dog shows to familiarize themselves with the entire pageantry. “It’s a very unusual world,” Levy has said. “I had never been to a dog show before we started doing the research and was surprised at the intensity involved. This is a full-time thing for these people; they live and breathe dog shows, and every weekend they’re out there traveling. They’ve got their dogs in cages and crates or packed in the van, and they drive hundreds of miles and spend several hours sitting with the dog before it goes on for its 60 seconds of fame. What is it that drives people to do this?”

He Can’t Stop Thinking About ‘Schitt’s Creek’


More specifically, he can’t stop thinking about the acclaimed comedy sitcom’s seventh season (it ended after six). Talking to The Radio Times, Levy admitted that he has “never stopped thinking about what might happen down the line.” He also said on The Kelly Clarkson Show that a return to the Rosebud Motel has never been off the table. 

His Mom Was a Polish Scot


Levy’s mother was born in Glasgow, Scotland. Her parents were Polish Ashkenazi Jews, and they eventually moved to Canada.

His Dad Was a Sephardic Jew


Levy’s dad was born in Ontario and was a Sephardic Jew with roots in both Spain and Bulgaria.

He Made His ‘American Pie’ Character Much More Wholesome and Clueless


“The dad had a little bit of an edge,” Levy once said. “A little nudge-nudge, wink-wink with the son. So I said, ‘I don’t want to play the character that way, really. I’ve got a problem with it, so maybe I shouldn’t do the movie.’” Not wanting to lose Levy, the Weitz brothers allowed him all the input in the world and all the improv freedom, too.

On Improvising in ‘American Pie’


“All the scenes in American Pie came out of an improvisation,” Levy continued. “I wanted the character to be a real dad. Like a real, corny dad who cares about their children. I wanted to be the kind of parent that the kids didn’t want to hang with. (The original version) was a little creepy. So I made him more square.”

He Asked O’Hara to Do the Pilot of ‘Schitt’s Creek’ As a Favor


O’Hara reluctantly agreed, and wasn’t planning on joining the show until Levy convinced her. He even changed the shooting schedule so she’d say yes.

He Met Ivan Reitman at University


Levy attended McMaster University where he was vice-president of a student film group. It was there where he first met filmmaker Ivan Reitman, who would offer him his first job.

His First Movie

When Reitman started making movies, he immediately cast Levy as the coffee boy in his first movieFoxy Lady.

The Musical That Launched the Careers of Seemingly a Million Comedians


In 1972, the hit musical Godspell opened in Toronto with a local cast and not, as per usual, a touring troupe. The show launched the careers of Levy, Andrea Martin, Gilda Radner, Paul Shaffer and Martin Short.

He Played Jesus


“I remember when I took over the lead role of Jesus in Godspell in Toronto,” he told Parade. “I think I was the only Jew who was ever hired to play the role of Jesus, who was a Jew. They were all at the time kind of Ronald McDonald-ish in character. But in the first scene Jesus is on stage in a pair of shorts and socks. They asked me when I was hired if I would wax the hair off my body for the part. I said, ‘No, I’m not going to do that, I don’t know why I would do that.’ They said, ‘Yeah, okay, well then would you wear this costume-y tank top?’ and I said, ‘Sure.’ Nobody asked me to take the eyebrows down.”

How He Helped Create ‘Waiting for ‘Guffman’


“I think the outline for Waiting for Guffman was maybe 16 pages,” Levy told The Ringer. “We describe where we are, and what characters are involved, and we lay out what information has to come out. We may indicate ‘this character is talking about this,’ or ‘this character’s talking about that,’ but we don’t give the lines, you know what I mean?”

He’s Nissan’s Official Thrill Driver


That wig just gets better the more you look at it.

He Now Has an Action Figure


Not a Comedian


“One of the biggest misconceptions about me is that I’m a comedian, which I’m not,” he once told Pop Entertainment.com. “A comedian is someone who can stand up in front of an audience and make you laugh. I’ve never done stand up, and I never will! I’m a comic actor. My comedy comes through my characters.”

On the Type of Character He Always Plays


“I think all of my characters aren’t the sharpest tools in the drawer, but you can’t fault their heart and their intent,” Levy continued. “They are all characters that people can feel for and that’s what’s always been important to me.” He also added that “playing dumb is a lot funnier than playing smart.”

That Time Levy and John Candy Played Drag Queens


In the 1986 comedy, Armed and Dangerous, Levy and Candy play a defense attorney and an L.A. cop, respectively, and feature in a scene where they’re both dressed in drag.

Corpsing in ‘Waiting for Guffman’


“There was a group of us in most of the scenes,” Levy once told Kelly Clarkson on her show, “and I would move myself behind the group as the scene was being shot, drop to my hands and knees, and crawl off the set so nobody would notice that I was laughing in the middle of the scene.” He explained that it had to be done since they were improvising and couldn't just recreate what everyone had done. 

The Forgotten Short-Lived Comedy Series


Called the comedic Twilight Zone, the 1985 series George Burns Comedy Week was produced by Steve Martin and starred Levy and O’Hara (among others) in a stand-alone tale each week. The show only lasted a few months.

He’s Not Into Exotic Food


Levy told The Radio Times that, if it weren’t for his traveling show, The Reluctant Traveler, he probably never would’ve gone to countries like Finland — largely because he’s worried about foreign cuisine. “Because that’s always a big thing for me. I don’t have a very exotic palate,” he explained. “I’m kind of a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy basically for good. I like good food. What are we going to be eating there? Well, reindeer I heard was a big part of it. I’m not into gamey kind of meat.”

On the Episode Where He Stuck His Arm Up an Elephant’s Butt


“That was sprung on me,” Levy explained to The Guardian. “First they asked if I’d assist a vet taking blood from an elephant. Then they asked if I’d like to take a stool sample. I said, ‘No thank you. I honestly don’t think I can.’ At which point I hear my co-producer David Brindley shouting from off-camera: ‘Oh, I think you can!’ So I did it for the show. I felt sorry for the animal. It was a horrible feeling.”

The Scene in ‘Schitt’s Creek’ That Made Him Ball Like a Baby


On Working with Tom Hanks in ‘Splash’

“I learned the importance of controlling your eyebrows,” he said at the AFI award ceremony honoring Tom Hanks. “I learned that I probably don’t have the physical attributes to be a Tom Hanks kind of leading man, unless the film industry flourished in Turkey.”

His Own Teen Singing Group


“My older brother had a singing group that performed rock and roll and barbershop,” Levy told Pop Entertainment.com about his teenage years. “I thought his band was so amazing to watch and see, that I thought I should start a group too. I rounded up a few friends and formed a quartet. So my performing really began in a singing capacity.” 

He Studied Sociology


In the same interview Levy said that he didn’t have acting on his mind when he went off to college, where he studied sociology “because it had the lightest workload.” 

A Big College Influence


“Martin Brenzell was a huge influence on me,” Levy continued, saying that he got to know the theater director at McMaster University. “Although he was hired primarily to oversee the extracurricular plays that were put on, he ran workshops that were essentially an acting class. We had these workshops at every rehearsal for every production we did where we received instruction on acting techniques.”

Almost Cast on ‘The West Wing’


Levy was seriously considered for the role of Toby Ziegler (ultimately played by Richard Schiff) on The West Wing.

Becoming the ‘American Pie’ Dad


If Levy was cast in The West Wing, there’s a good chance we’d never have seen him do the awkward sex talk with Jason Biggs in American Pie as he got cast right after losing out on the big TV drama.

He Doesn’t Want to Watch ‘American Pie’ with His Daughter


He Still Hasn’t Hosted ‘SNL’


For shame, Lorne Michaels, for shame.

The Time He Almost Hosted ‘SNL’


To be fair, Levy was slated to host an episode alongside John Candy back in 1985, but then the Writers’ Strike happened and the episode was canceled.

His Cameo on ‘SNL’


In 2021, Levy made a cameo during the opening monologue of the SNL episode hosted by his son.

Concerned About His Son’s Career


Earlier this year, Levy went on the SmartLess podcast and straight-up said that initially, he wasn’t so sure his son, Dan Levy, was going to make it in showbiz. "At one point I had a nightmare, I woke up in a cold sweat thinking, ‘What if he doesn't have it?’” he shared. “I mean, we’re gonna keep working on this idea, and if I know that he doesn't quite have what it takes, how long are we gonna keep working on this as a project?” referring, of course, to the Levy family hit Schitt’s Creek. 

He Wrote ‘God Loves a Terrier’


Bless him.

He’s a Spokesperson for Autism Awareness and Treatment

He’s been an advocate for autism since 2007.

He Briefly Dated Catherine O'Hara

While both were cast members of Second City in Toronto they had a brief fling, but as O’Hara once pointed out, “Everybody at Second City theater tried to date everybody.” Meaning, it was nothing serious, which is why they’ve been able to remain friends all these years.

His Producing Debut for Television


Levy made his TV producing debut as executive producer of the HBO special, The Last Polka.

Raising Their Kids in Toronto


While Levy and his wife, TV producer Deborah Divine, were working hard in Los Angeles and starting a family at the same time, they decided to move to Toronto so their kids could have a “normal childhood.” 

Apologizing for Bobby Bittman


“He’s one of my nauseating characters,” Levy once said about his SCTV character. “I’m sorry for doing that. I’m terribly sorry if I offended anybody.”

He’s a Mayor


In 2021, Levy was named honorary mayor of Pacific Palisades.

On Naming ‘Schitt's Creek’


In his book, Best Wishes, Warmest Regards: The Story of Schitt’s Creek, Levy explains that he’d been attending a dinner party where he and his friends dunked on small-town life where family stores were called things like Schitt Hardware. Afterward, Levy decided to embrace the concept rather than just dunk on it, and even wrote a bit about it into the show.

Breaking Records


“We’re record-breakers — the first ever father and son to win an Emmy in the same year and the first to win for the same show,” he told The Guardian. “I’m glad we didn’t get all those awards in our first or second season. That’s a dangerous way to go. Much more satisfying to do it all in our final year, when people had seen all the seasons and got what we were trying to do.”

He Directed Martin Short’s 1989 HBO Special

I, Martin Short, Goes Hollywood was, in essence, a Second City production.

Not a Spotlight Hogger


“It’s an odd thing in this business,” he told The Radio Times. “I don’t want to be the guy in the front of the room that's entertaining the crowd. I’d rather be in the back of the crowd, watching somebody great entertaining the room. I’ve never really been the type of person in real life who opens up conversations with people I really don’t know, I’m not that kind of chit-chatty guy.”

His Not So Great Movie


The 1983 American-Canadian comedy, Going Berserk, starred Levy alongside fellow SCTV veterans John Candy and Joe Flaherty. It barely had a plot and the trailer drips of desperation.

He Has (Or Had) a Pet Scorpion


In 2016, Levy did a Q&A with US Weekly where he revealed that, at the time, he had a pet Scorpion named Stingy.

He Is Pro Gun Control

The Voice of a Robot

Levy voiced Orrin, the servant robot in Astro Boy.

The Order of Canada


In 2011, Levy became a Member of the Order of Canada “for his contributions as a comic actor and writer, and for his dedication to charitable causes.” He was promoted to Companion in 2022.

Johnny Rose Was Something New for Levy


One of his most famous characters today, Levy told Vanity Fair that Johnny Rose from Schitt’s Creek wasn’t a guy he was used to playing. “Everything had to be relatively straight and not too comical with Johnny,” Levy said, “as the guy who’s trying to hold everything together and give everybody optimism that they’ll make it out of (Schitt’s Creek) one day — to not panic, not get too excitable. That was kind of an exciting thing for me. It’s not something I got to do too much over my career.”

His Cameo in ‘Josie and the Pussycat’

It’s wonderful.

The Best Part of His Traveling Show

“The most memorable aspect of traveling on this show for me has been the people I’ve been meeting,” he has explained. “That is also a good thing for me because I don’t engage readily with people I don’t really know in real life. I was quite proud of myself that I was enjoying it as much as I was.”

His Biggest Inspirations


“I would watch all the comedians back then in the 1950s,” he once told Parade. “Ernie Kovacs, Sid Caesar, Jack Benny and Jackie Gleason. I’ve been told I have a relatively slow delivery, and I can take some pauses. I would attribute that to Jack Benny and how he would surround himself with funny people on his show. He would get his laughs reacting to them. I just thought that was the funniest thing.”

The Thing That Annoys Him Most

“People who don’t use their turn signals when driving,” he said in the same interview. “That instantaneously makes me go mental.”

He’s Won a Grammy


Alongside Guest and Michael McKean, Levy won in the Grammy category for Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media for the title song in The Mighty Wind.

He Thoroughly Impressed Queen Latifah


“I got him saying all these words through this whole film that are so funny,” the actress said about their 2003 movie, Bringing Down the House. “I mean, I’m giving him every slang word in the book to say. And he delivers them perfectly.”

His Idea of a Perfect Vacation


“My idea of a great vacation is where you don’t have to think about anything and you can truly, truly relax,” he told Parade. “Just get me some sun, get me a pool, get me a piña colada, maybe a game of golf and then where can I get a good meal. That’s it. I could do that from one day to the next day to the next day.”

He Defended Martin Short


When Slate ran an op-ed earlier this year titled, “Why We Keep Putting Up With Martin Short,” many comedians and also Mark Hamill came out in defense of the veteran and Only Murders in the Building star, including his longtime friend, Levy.

No More Christopher Guest Collaborations


“No, I don’t think it will happen,” Levy said when asked by The Guardian whether we’d see another Levy/Christopher Guest collab. “Our last one was For Your Consideration back in 2006. Our fake documentaries — Chris always hated the term ‘mockumentary’ because we’re not mocking, it’s more affectionate than that — but they were getting a little cookie-cutter in terms of story. Everything was kind of the same, except we just changed the subject. At a certain point, that becomes predictable. In the interim, so many television shows have picked up that form and just destroyed it.”

His Other Embarrassing Movie


Hey, with such a long career, he was bound to have some stinkers. Such is the case with Cannibal Girls, the 1973 horror comedy directed by Reitman and featuring Levy’s ginormous ‘70s mustache.

On How He Met His Wife


“I met Deb when I was working at The Second City theater in Toronto,” he told Parade. “They had posted a job for hostess in the theater. She came in, and I happened to be in the lobby on a rehearsal break. I was chitchatting with the manager. She came in and said, ‘I’m looking for Mr. Thompson.’ It was the guy in charge of hiring. I said, ‘You’ll find him on the third floor.’ She said, ‘Thank you very much,’ and she goes up the stairs. I turned to the manager, Leonard, and I said, ‘Leonard, hire that girl.’ She was hired. That was the beginning.”

He’s Dory’s Dad


Levy voiced Charlie, Dory’s dad in Finding Dory.

He Misses John Candy


He’s Been Nominated for the Canadian Hall of Fame (Finally)


We’ll say it again: It’s aboot darn time.

The ‘Two Left Feet’ Joke in ‘Best in Show’ Was His Idea


His Actual Feet are Totally Normal


Talking to The Radio Times last year, Levy revealed that people still think about his Best in Show character Gerry Fleck’s feet when they see him: “People still like to say, you know, ‘I see your feet are normal!’ That still goes on 20 years after the fact.”


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